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Can corporations be held morally responsible?

Can corporations be held morally responsible?

Can corporations be held morally responsible?

“This book collects new contributions by leading business scholars in business ethics, philosophy, and related disciplines to extend our understanding of the “moral responsibility of firms.”

Eric W. Orts, Guardsmark Professor; Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics and Management; Director, Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania,N. Craig Smith, Chaired Professor of Ethics and Social Responsibility, INSEAD

‘People are responsible for their individual actions. But what about the company as an entity?’

  • VW episode, BP oil spill, Wells Fargo, or financial crisis — behind every such instance there would have been specific individuals, leaders who would have taken the call to compromise, with disastrous impact
  • If the action ends with the corporations paying fine, is that enough? Are they not disproportionate to the impact of the disasters?
  • ‘Corporations don’t have guilt’
  • Thankfully everyone unanimously agrees, ‘ethics matter’! How do we operationalize it? Get corporations & individuals in them to maintain highest ethical standards?
  • Not just bad corporations but also good corporate actions, positive duties & responsibilities need to be acknowledged too.
  • The Open Letter to legislators is a great idea. Political leadership got to be sensitized about this. This is in spite of what GBShaw (‘last resort’) to Brene Brown (‘leaders we tolerate’) got to say about political leadership
  • Right now the buck stops at the corporate entity. Their legal experts, supported by our legal system, help them to get away with a fine.

Aren’t other stakeholders of the corporation equally responsible?

Be it the leaders/employees, Government agencies, regulators, shareholders — directly or indirectly?

In the final analysis, it is all about leadership, value-system and purpose of life. Maximising shareholder value, in the short term, at any cost, is dangerous. From that perspective, every one of us are party to the problem, are key stakeholders.

A shift in leadership may be the proverbial panacea.

PS: Can we escape the karmic impact? Master says,

‘Money comes & goes. Morality comes & grows’

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