This is not just a fad. It has to be the presenting question for all employees and all organisations. What role do organisations play in changing the world for the better?
We all know the terrible scandals that have plagued large organisations over just the last two decades. Fraud scandals, customers harmed, crimes facilitated, environment severely damaged, consumers lied to etc. And we should not dismiss these because chances are the next wave of scandals are waiting to be discovered.
But I have become more interested in what role organisations could and should play in making the world a better, safer, more sustainable place.
There are many examples we could choose where organisations have the opportunity to influence and create change for the better but for this article, I have simply chosen the issue of how various countries treat same-sex couples/marriage. And only limited research serves to be a stark reminder for many of us of how “less evolved” some human rights practices remain.
The Telegraph reported on Thursday 28 March 2019 – “Adultery and gay sex will be punishable by stoning to death and the limbs of convicted thieves will be amputated under a new law set to come into effect from next week in the tiny southeast Asian kingdom of Brunei. “
Google helps us understand the problem in more detail, here are those countries that punish homosexuality with the death penalty - Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen - as well as in parts of Nigeria and Somalia.
I am not talking about everyday prejudice and negative mindsets. I am talking about countries who establish laws to formalise the discrimination of certain people.
The BBC published this useful map
Red = Death Penalty
Orange = Imprisonment
On the one hand, it shows progress ( grey) but on the other how many parts of the world criminalise the right to choose ones sexual identity/preference.
These facts are a stark reminder of how many countries are struggling to evolve and improve their human rights status, but the question which for me is what role should the organisations play that do business in these countries, and repatriate income/wealth from these countries.
If like me you truly believe; “The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing.”As Burke (1919 October) said, ‘When bad men combine, good men must organize.’ , then we face an interesting debate?
So many Global/International organisations do business in countries where human rights records, environment records etc are shall we just say, atrocious. They take money/profit out of these countries for their and shareholder benefit. CEO’s and executives are awarded significant bonuses, in part, from their dealings in these geographies. But is this right?
Many organisations hide behind the excuse of a policy which says “ we remain politically neutral” allowing them to turn a blind eye to much of what happens in the countries they do business. Even often ignoring the suffering these practices may cause for their own employees and their families in these same countries
In my previous writings, I have confirmed that at heart I am a capitalist and believe in the free market, but I think the time is long overdue for capitalism to be held accountable for having a conscience.
“We believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity. Free enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more.” ~ From the Conscious Capitalist Credo
And we should not allow organisations to hide behind the work they do under the “philanthropic” Corporate Social Investments not because they do not “do good work” but because they do not really tackle the real issues.
Let us not stand by and do nothing, let us organise to educate create awareness and demand change.
This article is exclusive to The Business Transformation Network.
Andrew Fox is MD of Rhino Consulting and is an HR Professional, commercially focused and results driven with an excellent track record in leading brands in Financial Services and Professional Services, globally (previously Group Head of Learning & Talent Development at HSBC). Andrew is accomplished at influencing at Board level, providing an unrivalled focus on delivery and execution combined with an ability to create and frame the strategic agenda.