Should companies have any role in protecting people and the planet? High profile cases of corporate misconduct mask the less sexy, but no less important, cases of companies choosing to do the right things right.
Many people think that the question is null and void, since capitalism as an economic system cannot be judged morally at all. But if we ask the question a bit differently, it seems to me that some answers can be teased out.
I believe there are analogies and lessons to be drawn from the responsible citizenship on display by demonstrators across the world, and the responsible ownership practiced by active shareholders in corporations.
The ongoing financial saga is morphing into a financial thriller. Makes one wonder. Maybe the "silver lining" in this financial crisis is that the "dirty laundry is coming out in the wash" -- worldwide.
We've had financial bubbles before. This one's got a twist though. It's fraught with complexity, scope, depth, widespread fraud and bad underwriting practices making coming out of it, all the more difficult.
If financial warfare is here to stay, doesn't it behoove those who run banks and nations to manage well as any one is vulnerable? And now that we've created this global financial hydra, and global world at large, how's it being managed and is it even possible?
A distinct charter for the companies who think systematically about the social and environmental impacts of their decisions sends the wrong message. We need all businesses to operate that way. Nothing less will do.
How was basic credit analysis so overlooked by sovereign governments, banks, institutions, individuals? Is it a Shakespearean-like pursuit of returns, wants, profit and power? Can we assume that economies could grow to keep up with debt?
We are in the grip of bad ideas, false assumptions, and wrong values. Our 20th century habits of thought and behavior are getting in the way of responding to the new realities that require attention in the 21st century.