Business Ethics - Luxury or Necessity?
Thursday, 22nd July 2004 at 1:07 pm
Failing to address ethical and governance issues will lead to long term contraction of business opportunities and growth according to Christine Charles, corporate executive from Newmont Australia.
Charles was speaking at a forum in Melbourne where corporate and union executives and business academics and politicians came together as part of Oxfam Community Aid Abroad’s second Business Ethics Forum.
Entitled Business Ethics –Luxury or Necessity, Christine Charles told the forum that from the board room down the challenge is to ensure corporate behaviour, systems and monitoring make sure that corporate responsibility is not optional – it is a business necessity.
HIH Royal Commission Inquirer, Justice Neville Owen told the forum that corporate governance is about decision making and the decision–maker must go beyond the economic consequences of the problem to examine the essential morality of any proposal.
Justice Owner said that what matters is how a corporation actually operates rather than the way it says it operates.
ACTU President, Sharan Burrow says high standards of Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility are of vital concern for unions.
Burrows told the forum that sustainable enterprises equal secure jobs and stable economies. Hence there is growing union support for global initiatives which establish principles of ethical behaviour and reporting frameworks for both financial and social outcomes.
She said productive relationships with business are critical where they are based on shared values and respect for both people and their communities.
She added that for those with little respect for human rights, core labour standards and environmental responsibility, the challenge is to convince them to shift their approach or if that fails, to oppose their practices in specific and targeted global campaigns.
She concluded that unfair competition against ethical business based on exploitation of people cannot be tolerated.
The Business Ethics Forum was hosted by broadcaster and columnist Jill Singer and is part of a series by Oxfam.
Andrew Hewett, the Executive Director of Oxfam Community Aid Abroad.
Says productive private sector investment is an important driver of economic growth and poverty reduction.
He says the choice facing the business sector is how to use their power to further sustainable human development by building practical frameworks that reflect broader social responsibilities.
For more information on Business Ethics Forums go to www.oxfam.org.au.