Humanizing Corporations: Does CSR Involve Admitting Failure?
By Per Grankvist for CSRwire
Recently many readers of Børsen, the largest business daily in Denmark, were surprised to find that the chairman of Lokale Pengeinstituer, an alliance of 75 independent banks, had assumed full responsibility for the financial crisis.
In a candid interview, Claus Petersen said that in his opinion financial institutions as a sector have the main responsibility for things going wrong in the world economy.
“Even if politicians too can be blamed, we have the biggest responsibility because we’ve been far to optimistic.”
Admitting Failure: Part of a Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility?
Hearing the CEO of a bank, or any large corporation for that matter, apologize for any wrongdoings, big or small, is rare these days, despite heightened media attention and the Occupy Wall Street protestors. We’ve grown used to hearing companies tell us that something unexpected happened, an incident outside their control, an unpredictable event.
As a consequence they assure us they will take adequate measures, routines will be changed, new policies put in place as soon as possible, someone down the long convoluted hierarchy of decision makers will be blamed, but that essentially the companies themselves are blemish-free, incapable of any wrongdoing.
Since it is our combined faults, inadequacies and limitations that make us human, I’m always surprised at times when “the human factor” is attributed to be the root of the problem. These simplistic conclusions reveal an impersonal view of companies, as if they were perfectly rational profit factories that if operated independently of employees or the world around them, would work flawlessly.
When No One is to Blame…
Of course, by blaming “a human factor” rather then “a human we employ,” we are also successfully distancing ourselves from the problem.
Yet, there isn’t one single financial institution that can be blamed for having any part in the financial crises of recent years. Only their employees.
Stock exchanges don’t create new financial instruments by themselves, their managers do. Investment banks don’t act on insider information, their analysts do. Banks never repackage bad mortgages as good ones in order to sell them, their sales people do.
…Who Do You Trust?
So is it wrong to expect these financial institutions to acknowledge their role in getting us into this mess before we can learn to trust them again? Continue reading on CSRwire Talkback.
Published: August 30, 2012 By: