“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”
UN, Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948. The entire text of the UDHR was composed in less than two years under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, at a time when the world was divided into Eastern and Western blocks. By its resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948, the General Assembly, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with eight nations abstaining from the vote but none dissenting.
The UDHR has during more than 6 decades been the foundation for numerous laws and has inspired more than 80 international human rights treaties and declarations.
Isn’t it remarkable that an universal agreement with overall support to such extent is being neglected…
…and I am not only talking about wartime situations, extremists, evil regimes or dictators – I am talking about the Corporate world.
Somehow the Corporate world has, especially during the last 30 years or so, developed an approach that companies are not involved in, neither affected by the responsibilities that all the world’s countries have jointly agreed should be the base for all people on this planet, for our civilization.
It’s almost as if the humans “behind” the companies believe that they, under the protection of a corporate facade has “carte blanche” and the freedom to behave in any way they please – because even in the most complex business structures, decisions are made by humans…
And today when this flawed corporate approach is being more and more questioned, some corporations “rush” to commit to the UN Global Compact (which is largely founded on the principles of the UDHR) But although 65% (?) of the companies are committing to sustainability at the CEO level, only 35% are training managers to integrate sustainability into strategy and operations and while 83% of companies consider adherence to the Global Compact principles by suppliers, only 18% assist them and just 9% take steps to verify remediation… (Read more…)
For decades we have instead been continuously “pumped full” with expressions from Business life – expressions somehow abbreviating the way business is or should be conducted.
To some extent these various “business-format” or “abbreviations” serve a purpose outlining the relationship of a business transaction. They also point out the legal framework associated, but what about responsibility… or Sustainability?
B2C – Business to Consumer
In a number of previous articles; Reality Check – are you “in Touch”…?, A free market – Free at “ANY” price…? and We are not ”Human resources” – We are Human beings…, I have tried to bring attention to the way business schools, for decades, have been using “flawed theories” to educate students the way corporations can and should act – claiming Theses such as;
Only “people” have responsibilities…“Business” as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities, even in this vague sense’…
In reality this means that in a B2C relation an “entity” with no (or little) responsibility is doing business with an entity that possesses the ability to be responsible.
This could be a “guarantee”, that if one involved is responsible, the business as a whole could be conducted in a “responsible way” – That is, if the relation was “Balanced” and included equal opportunities for both parties.
This is however never the case. Consumers have very small means and capacity to “level off” the often overwhelming capacity and powers held by corporations – both directly and indirectly.
And although law-makers are struggling to keep pace in order to protect consumers, there are so many ways, other than legal, available for corporations to exploit – and the customer always “get the short straw”.
Anyone who is very strong must also be very kind.Astrid Lindgren
This quote by the well renowned Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, says it all – but sadly reality show a very different picture. The inequality and imbalance between corporations and customers is growing at a very high pace. Globalization, large-scale trade-agreements and other multi-lateral agreements all favors increasing influence of corporations.
The corporate-financed lobby organizations are largely outnumbering customer-organisations and NGO’s, and are promoting corporate interest to even overrule democratic processes.
And when it comes to Sustainability it’s even worse – Cheating and Greenwash is still the prevailing “modus-operandi” for a majority of corporations – read more in previous articles; A Sustainability Cheat-Sheet and Don’t tell me about Sustainability – Show me!
A bad example
Statements similar to the above quote by Astrid Lingren, such as “Don’t be evil” by corporate giant Google doesn’t refrain them from performing large-scale tax-evasion schemes or their chairman Eric Schmidt to publicly announce that “I’m very proud of our tax avoidance scheme…” (Link to article)
A statement so totally incompatible with Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility and even Google’s own corporate motto that it is an insult to their customers.
And yet another example of hypocrisy;
I just recently finished reading Naomi Kleins excellent book “This changes everything”. In a section of the book, based on more than five years of research, she describes how another corporate giant and media “favourite”, Sir Richard Branson, in 2006 pledged to invest $3 billion in renewable energy and other sustainable ventures over a ten year period, but ten years later have perhaps invested around $ 300 million, blaming the shortfall on everything from high oil prices to the global financial crisis – while simultaneously growing his global airline ‘Virgin’ at an unprescedented rate, causing enormous increases in GHG-emissions.
A “media-scam” and a huge fraud to humanity – but still Mr Branson is travelling the world giving speeches to high-paying audiences on “entrepreneurship”… and is also spending immense amounts of money on the pursuit for the very rich to make space-flights (!)
“Business to Consumer”, B2C, is very much a one-way-street strategy, pushing the well-funded and aggressive corporate agenda of extreme consumerism way beyond the sustainable limits of our planet – the connection between “strength” and “kindness” is nowhere to be seen…
B2B – Business to Business
If you think B2C is “bad” – Business to Business pretty much operates by the motto “No Limits” or “the Law of the Jungle” or “Greed is Good” or…
In correlation with the previous, this means that in a B2B relation an “entity” with no (or little) responsibility is doing business with another entity with no (or little) responsibility – other then economic profit to their shareholders…
Isn’t it quite amazing that when searching for illustrations to depict “Business-to Business” many of the illustrations show “Handshakes” between humans… (hypocrisy?)
…and at the same time it is amazing when you hear business executives refer to the Real People you actually work with as ‘intangible’ and pretend that the arbitrary estimations of book value in the accounts are ‘tangible’… Read more about The Corporate “Discharge” from Society HERE!
When two entities without responsibility do business together everything else becomes more or less “obsolete”. It’s as if everything can be valued in the only language applicable – Money.
What is totally incomprehensible is that all corporations are governed by Humans, yet when these Humans put on their “business-suits” all responsibility to Humanity seems to evaporate totally, like in a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde movie.
A Business to Business relationship can of course include “responsibility” also for Sustainability if the “specifics” are included in contracts etc – but only after the “first responsibility”, to safeguard the shareholders money and profits is fulfilled.
“Business to Business”, B2B, is very much a Profit-only strategy, where everything that is not directly regulated by law is allowed – a strategy where ethics, moral and rules are invented along the road and equally easy are changed should opportunities for greater economic profits arise.
H2H – Human to Human
What if we instead take on a Human-to-Human approach… two “entities” possessing the ability to be responsible – surely this is a far better base for an overall responsible relation.
…and it’s not about some Human-to-Human marketing scheme, covering up for underlying flawed corporate B2C or B2B routines – it has to be For Real!
Take a close look at your own line of business – what if you think a little “deeper” about all humans involved, in different positions all along the supply chain – what if they where all your best friends?
Would you like your best friend to work in a run-down, un-secure building, with poor working conditions, earning a very meager pay-check while beeing treated badly by their employer…?
Would you like your son or daughter to work without proper protection-gear while spraying vegetables with perhaps carcinogenic chemicals…?
Do you think it is fair to your friends that the corporation they work for runs large-scale tax-evasion schemes to avoid paying taxes, thereby depriving your friends community the much needed funding, necessary to evolve the way our communities have…
What if you had to look all your friends in their eyes while telling them that they don’t deserve equal opportunities… Would you do that to a friend?
It’s about time we start honouring what we decided already in 1948 – that All human beings are born free and equal …
…instead of creating all kinds of avoidance-schemes and evasive maneuvers, pushing the capitalistic systems to even more extreme inequality or introducing trade-agreements that lead to even further extraction of peoples right and depletion of planetary resources, while generating even more unsustainable consumption patterns and lock-in effects… the Buck stops here and Now!
We agreed on this back in 1948, and I am pretty sure we can agree once more…
The way forward is to always acknowledge the Human aspect in everything we do, to put ourselves in the situations of all other people involved, in whatever venture we embark, and to diligently ask;
Is it OK to enslave other Humans… is it OK to endanger other Humans health or life… is it OK to deprive other Humans of their rights… is it OK to endanger all Humanity for our individualistic desires…
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is pretty clear that the Corporate world and our government systems to large extent is corrupted by the flawed economic theories and values that has become the norm, in a kind of “Perpetuum Mobile” – read more in a previous article; Is it still the right way? – Our Social “Perpetuum mobile”
We need to leave “Extractivism” and “Free-market extremism” and start thinking about Humanity – the “Market” is not going to solve this, neither are the “Fossilized Democracies” – its up to Humans, like You and Me, to question and change…
… and it is happening – There are an increasing amount of peoples movements such as the 350.org’s “Divestment-movement”, the Fossil-free movement and numerous other Environmental- , Climate- and Social movements beeing mustered around the world – there is probably also one where you live, Join in!
…and remember what Winston Churchill once said;
“Never, never, never give up.”