I met two global thought leaders in the recent weeks. The first was Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick, the KPMG Global Head of Corporate Citizenship. He was the speaker at the CPA Australia CEO luncheon and he spoke about whether corporate philanthropic is a reflection of good corporate behaviour.
According to Lord Hastings, what is more important is the overall behaviour of a corporation in ensuring its conducts are in line with social expectations and do not compromise our environment. Hence, doing one or two corporate social responsibility activities is not a substitute for good corporate citizenship.
We sort of agreed that in ensuring good corporate behaviour, the people within the organisation matters and we should leverage on their beliefs to encourage them to do the right thing. This is somewhat neglected in Europe and America as religion is purposely ignored, especially in the corporate world.
I also had the opportunity to meet Michael Izza, the CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Michael was in town recently to launch the ICAEW Regional Centre of Accountancy Training Excellence.
In sharing the development of the capital market and where accountants can play their roles, Michael spoke about the important of ethics. When I asked about the role of values in instilling integrity, Michael responded that organisations such as ICAEW are becoming more concerned in sending messages that what is legally right is not necessarily acceptable. He cited the example of global companies which are paying very minimum taxes based on business structures which are perfectly legal.
I suppose moving forward, the issue of values and good citizenship would be more debated and considered based on our present understanding of how greed and selfishness drove the recent global financial crisis.
Given the importance of ensuring persons to be given responsibilities should be selected based on their merits, values and ethical conducts, we should not be blinded just because of impressive historical financial performance or promise offered. The crisis had certainly educated us that anything that is not built on a solid foundation will eventually crumble. The question is who is going to pick up the pieces and pay the bill. You and me or our children and their children?