Tag Archive for ‘GE’
China’s extensive state censorship is just one example of the challenges that companies frequently confront when doing business globally. In an excerpt from his new book, former GE legal counsel Ben W. Heineman, Jr. examines the “recurrent dilemma” confronting businesses when a corporation’s global ethical standards collide with national law.
In July 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council endorsed a set of principles designed to address human rights abuses by business. In an interview, the man who led development of those principles – Harvard professor John Ruggie – discusses their implications and explains why he thinks the newly-coined term “human rights due diligence” has already become a permanent entry in the lexicon of international business.
Columnist Gael O’Brien discusses an innovative corporate responsibility initiative launched by Panera Bread, the national cafe-bakery company. “Panera Cares” has opened community cafes in three cities – Clayton, Missouri; Dearborn, Michigan and Portland, Oregon – based on a pay-what-you-can model where those who can pay more do in order to cover the cost of others.
The UN’s endorsement of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights marks not just a successful end to the mandate of UN Special Representative John Ruggie. It also signals a new beginning for business and human rights as companies around the world begin to implement the principles to ensure respect for human rights in all their operations.
A KPMG International study of executives released April 18 said that, “nearly 55 per cent of US executives say their organization has a formal sustainability strategy in place… Another 12 per cent say they are working on a strategy and an additional 19 percent expect to eventually develop a formal plan… Asked to identify the top three benefits from their sustainability program, the respondents most often chose: better or more efficient business processes and practices; increased profitability or shareholder value; and the ability to attract or retain new or existing customers… ”
Pulitzer Prize winner Jesse Eisinger says HBO’s “Too Big To Fail” The Movie is the story of how three leading financial figures in U.S. government “didn’t see the financial crisis coming; hadn’t prepared for it; made mistake after mistake as it was cresting; and then, in their moment of triumph, made their most colossal blunder of all.”
Keld Jensen argues that yesterday’s moral compass no longer points in the direction of today’s business ethics solutions – and that relativity may apply as much to business ethics as to physics. “Times have changed,” he writes. “As businesses operate in an increasingly globalized world, ethical conduct is no longer an absolute standard.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged that from 2000 to 2003 two GE subsidiaries — along with two other subsidiaries of public companies that have since been acquired by GE — participated in a $3.6 million kickback scheme with Iraqi government agencies to win contracts to supply medical equipment and water purification equipment.
GE’s 2009 corporate citizenship report – “Renewing Responsibilities” – sets forth a vision of addressing global concerns with confidence, integrating sustainability into the company’s core business strategy. “Our goals,” GE says, “are to make money, make it ethically and make a difference.”
In the current state of emergency and disaster following Haiti’s earthquake, donations of cash and vital resources are imperative for humanitarian relief. The bigger question, says writer Bill Baue, is whether this effort will leave room for self-empowered Haitians to identify and redress systemic, symptomatic problems.