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BW Businessworld

Corporate Conscience

The new consumer-brand dynamics necessitates an introspection from business owners across the world. Companies will have no option but to build a strong internal ethical code.

Photo Credit : Reuters


Since time immemorial Transparency & Honesty has been espoused as few of the critical pillars of human character.

It would be interesting to push this analogy to the world of business and brands. Should they stand for the highly cherished values of transparency and honesty? Well, as we wade deeper and deeper into the hyper-social world of intense consumer scrutiny, the default answer to this hypothetical question would be a resounding YES. Companies need to build a human dimension. A Conscience.

The new consumer-brand dynamics necessitates an introspection from business owners across the world. Companies will have no option but to build a strong internal ethical code. Only then can the journey start towards building a Conscious Principle- A conscience. And to provide a framework for all that the company does, it must evolve an enduring Brand Purpose. A Lighthouse that lights all decisions of a company. 

P&G’s purpose is about Touching & Improving lives, for more than 180 years. With every product it designs, every marketing communication, the same questions are asked. If it is in line with its Purpose. 

But the reality is that many organizations have not been able to build a cohesive Purpose simply since it has not been able to find the right leaders with the right value systems. Character traits of Empathy, Compassion & unflinching honesty. 

Swami Vivekananda speaking on the desired traits of a leader, says, Can a leader be made, my brother? A leader is born. Do you understand? And it is a very difficult task to take on the role of a leader. — One must be able to accommodate a thousand minds. There must not be a shade of jealousy or selfishness, then you are a leader. First, by birth, and secondly, unselfish — that’s a leader.

When we find leaders and founders who have these developed value systems, only then, can we expect a human culture to flourish.

This idealistic picture is well in line to become an imperative soon. Brands are being watched. Specially in times of Crisis. Brands with developed ethical codes naturally respond to situations.

Let’s look how some Corporations have gone beyond their conventional areas of businesses, during the COVID 19 Crisis.

Ford Motor Company shifted gears to lend manufacturing and engineering expertise to help build respirators and ventilators.

During the early days of the Covid 19 Crisis Dyson (Best known for Vacuum Cleaners) partnered with The Technology Partnership to produce a ventilator called CoVent, a bedmounted, portable ventilator that can run from battery power.

Some of the leading global Corporations have well established cultures for working for the community. At Microsoft, employees themselves are cohesively contributing financially and with their time to various community development initiatives, as part of the EMPLOYEE GIVING PROGRAMME. Employee donations have raised US $ 181 million. 825 000 employees have volunteered hours for community service, 23500 non-profit organisations and schools have been supported.

When customers, stakeholders and employees see their brand committing to initiatives, with such whole-heartedness it provides them tremendous reassurance, enhances their feeling of belonging. Which comes back to the company in terms of their customers loyalty and support. Automatically adding to the Top-line and bottom line. Nothing less than Organizational Karma. What it gives, it gets back in large measure. Just like in the Human world. At the same time, it starts building the conscious and ethical principle in young leaders. For them to grow into responsible leaders with similar ethos

At Microsoft, the impetus for such a culture of Philanthropy comes from its leader Bill Gates. When a person of stature like Bill gates, decides to commit his time to help the underprivileged, he sets a benchmark for other organizations and future leaders.

While there are so many examples of Conscious charitable work done by brands in the global arena, this phenomenon has not taken root in India in a measure that it should have. The Land of Spirituality. Where the spirit of Service and Renunciation is at its core.

Let’s take the COVID 19 situation. Many Corporations have contributed but their participation could have been more proactive. And this is so because most Companies don’t have an established culture code. A very strong Purpose.

Brands like Mahindra, Aditya Birla Group, Reliance, are consciously making an effort. Wipro also has a fairly strong charter towards CSR. With time, one is hopeful that the focus on development work for the community & society will only intensify. And Off-course the TATA Group, that has Philanthropy & Community Service embedded in its DNA.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Corporate Conscience corporate

Arijit Ray

The author is a Thought Leader, Coach, Writer, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Marketing & Branding Professional, Co-Founder & Managing Partner – Paperboat Brandworks. Former CEO at Dentsu India

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