Demonstrating Corporate Responsibility During a Pandemic

Crises reveal what organizations value. Whether a business demonstrates corporate responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, or fails to do so, can determine if the company and its leaders emerge from this crisis with the trust and confidence of their stakeholders intact.

Source: google.com/covid19/

Definitions of corporate responsibility have evolved from an exclusive focus on shareholder returns, to the acknowledgment by businesses of a much broader group of corporate stakeholders and range of responsibilities. Acting responsibly today means more than legal compliance and goes beyond corporate philanthropy.

At its core, corporate responsibility means meeting stakeholder expectations for responsible conduct. Meeting both the financial and non-financial expectations of its investors, customers, employees, business partners, suppliers, regulators, and the communities where it operates, helps a company to manage risk, protect its reputation, attract and retain employees, grow its markets, and sustain its financial performance.

Demonstrating corporate responsibility is a key challenge for business leaders in the best of times. As my colleague Helio Fred Garcia observes, the COVID-19 crisis comprises simultaneous crises (public health, business, economic, information, governance, social, mental health) of unprecedented scope that require a multi-dimensional leadership response. [1]

Unprecedented in its scope, the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for companies and their leaders to live their values by acting responsibly.

When navigating next steps during the pandemic, business leaders should keep in mind key principles for demonstrating corporate responsibility.

 

Understand the potential impacts of your crisis response.

Responsible organizations understand the potential impacts of their actions and take steps to “do no harm.” Business leaders determining how to respond to the pandemic need to assess the potential impacts on all company stakeholders.

Well-managed organizations plan for foreseeable crises. Companies that engage in meaningful crisis planning likely had a standby pandemic crisis plan they could draw upon as they began to address COVID-19. Effective crisis management plans identify potentially affected stakeholders and catalogue relevant corporate policies for high priority scenarios. A global manufacturer’s pandemic planning, for example, would have considered the business impact of supply chain interruptions, triggers to suspend executive travel, and criteria for allowing employees to work remotely.

When evaluating next steps, companies should seek to “do no harm” by preventing or mitigating harmful impacts.

Companies without a pandemic crisis plan in place can still identify potential impacts to guide their response. Enterprise-wide impact mapping and assessment can help an organization prioritize next steps. By applying a human rights impact lens to its operations and stakeholders, [2] a hospital system, for example, might prioritize securing adequate personal protective equipment to ensure the health and safety of its healthcare workers; expanding diagnostic testing among vulnerable communities to ensure nondiscrimination in patient access to healthcare, and communicating information about the virus and medical capacity to ensure public access to reliable and timely information.

When evaluating next steps, companies should seek to “do no harm” by preventing or mitigating harmful impacts. Apparel companies that have cancelled supplier contracts for goods during the pandemic face criticism for triggering layoffs of the factory workers worldwide that make their products, often among the groups most vulnerable to COVID-19. A quick stakeholder impact assessment would have flagged the risk of harming supply chain workers. Responsible international brands have sought to protect workers by honoring their supplier contracts during the pandemic.

Similarly, companies that provide paid sick leave are protecting the health of employees, customers and the general public alike. When the California-based retailer Patagonia voluntarily closed its stores nationwide while continuing to pay its employees, its CEO and President, Rose Marcario stated, “It’s everyone’s responsibility to help stop the spread of this virus.”

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to help stop the spread of this virus.” 

− Rose Marcario, CEO and President, Patagonia Inc.

 

Anticipate changing stakeholder expectations.

Meeting stakeholder expectations demonstrates corporate responsibility and earns the trust of those who matter most to your business. All stakeholders expect a responsible organization to care about the multiple dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis and to take appropriate action.

What stakeholders expect a responsible company to do will change. The current pandemic is a dynamic situation that calls for decision-makers to adapt policies to new information. Responsible companies meet stakeholders where they are and adjust accordingly.

Customers, for example, expect essential businesses that remain open (or that reopen) to follow public health guidelines, to protect their employees, and to protect vulnerable community members. Obeying the law is the just the starting point.

On my first trip to the grocery store after a statewide “stay-at-home” order had been issued, the store had placed limits on the number of scarce items that customers could buy, like cleaning products and milk. Employees were working hard to keep shelves stocked. Two weeks later, consistent with evolving public health guidance, the store was limiting the number of customers allowed inside at once, plexiglass shields had been placed between checkout workers and customer payment stations, and all store employees wore gloves and masks. The grocery chain had also adopted an industry-wide practice reserving its opening hour for elderly customers. On my most recent shopping trip, the store had instituted “one-way” aisles to ensure physical distancing and all customers were required to wear face coverings.

Some of these measures were mandated; some were voluntary. All track what the store’s customers, employees, and community would expect a responsible grocery store to do under the circumstances based on available information.

Conversely, companies that act contrary to stakeholder expectations for responsible conduct, even if the actions are legal and contribute to the bottom line, risk losing the trust of customers, investors, and regulators. Large public corporations that secured millions of dollars of loans under the Paycheck Protection Program intended for small businesses, for example, have endured substantial public criticism prompting some companies to return the funds. The angry reaction should not have been a surprise for corporate leaders paying attention to stakeholder expectations. 

 

Philanthropy is not a substitute for responsibility.

Stakeholders expect responsible companies with the resources to do so, to give money and to tap their expertise during a crisis. Many businesses, large and small, have responded to the pandemic by providing financial or in-kind support to healthcare workers, to small businesses, and to international and community organizations addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations.

Source: covid19responsefund.org/

Google has pledged more than $800 million to support small businesses, health organizations and governments, and health workers on the frontline of the global pandemic. The company’s contribution includes $250 million in advertising credits to help the World Health Organization and more than 100 government agencies disseminate information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Citigroup is donating a total of $15 million to the United Nations Foundation and World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, to No Kid Hungry to support emergency food-distribution programs in the United States, and to international efforts in countries that are severely affected by the pandemic. The British and Dutch consumer goods multinational Unilever is contributing €100 million through donations of soap, sanitizer, bleach and food, including adapting its manufacturing lines to produce sanitizer for use in hospitals.

All of these efforts are welcome.

Philanthropy, however, does not excuse a company from acting responsibly elsewhere in its operations.

Source: www.ethicalconsumer.org

Amazon faces intense criticism for failing to adequately protect its employees from the outset of the pandemic; resisting paid sick time, hazard pay, and health benefits for part-time employees; and retaliating against a warehouse worker who protested working conditions. Since then, Amazon has enhanced its health and safety practices, hired 175,000 additional employees, and donated thousands of laptops to Seattle public school students, among other efforts. CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos announced a $100 million gift to Feeding America. The company’s philanthropic responses alone, however, are proving insufficient to meet stakeholder expectations for responsible conduct. Employees continue to protest Amazon’s working conditions and policies, and regulators have launched investigations into the company’s labor practices.

McDonald’s Corporation has donated over $3 million in food to support local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic; yet, more than half a million McDonald’s workers without access to paid sick leave are serving food nationwide.

Leading companies act and give responsibly.

 

Business leaders are called to act when government fails to do so.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a crisis of government capacity and leadership. Corporate responsibility today means filling these governance gaps.

Business leaders should be prepared to address the governmental pandemic response by speaking out against harmful policies and advocating for responsible solutions.

Source: coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html, visited 5/8/2020

Responsible companies in the United States are meeting public needs that the federal government has failed to address. Companies in many different sectors are stepping in to manufacture, purchase, and distribute personal protective equipment; to accelerate production of diagnostic tests and medical equipment like ventilators; and to disseminate accurate data on the virus and its spread. Microsoft voluntarily told its employees to work from home in support of local health authorities’ efforts to communicate the urgency of the looming pandemic in Seattle. Apple and Google are partnering to develop contact tracing technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus.

Stakeholders increasingly expect corporate leaders to speak out on public policy issues, [3] such as gun violence and immigration policy, [4] when government fails to act or causes harm. COVID-19 is accelerating this trend. In his annual letter to CEOs, Larry Fink, the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, noted last year that “stakeholders are pushing companies to wade into sensitive social and political issues — especially as they see governments failing to do so effectively.” Fink called on CEOs to demonstrate leadership and corporate commitment to “to the countries, regions, and communities where they operate, particularly on issues central to the world’s future prosperity.” No issue meets these criteria right now more than the multi-dimensional COVID-19 crisis.

CEOs that understand and anticipate the potential impacts on of all of their company’s stakeholders are not rushing to reopen.

Business leaders should be prepared to address the governmental pandemic response by speaking out against harmful policies and advocating for responsible solutions. Consumer product brands have had to correct inaccurate information about disinfectants. Many businesses in the United States must now decide whether to reopen against data-driven public health guidance. CEOs that understand and anticipate the potential impacts on of all of their company’s stakeholders are not rushing to reopen.

Unprecedented in its scope, the COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique opportunity for companies and their leaders to live their values by acting responsibly.

 

Logos Senior Advisor Anthony Ewing counsels executives on corporate responsibility and works with clients to establish and strengthen crisis management programs. He teaches a graduate seminar on corporate responsibility at Columbia Law School.

 

Notes

[1] Helio Fred Garcia, “Leadership, Communication, and COVID-19,” (Mar. 25, 2020) https://logosconsulting.net/leadership-communication-and-covid-19/.

[2] Anthony Ewing, “Integrating Human Rights into Crisis Planning,” A Good Practice Note endorsed by the United Nations Global Compact Human Rights and Labour Working Group (6 October 2015), https://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/issues_doc/human_rights/Human_Rights_Working_Group/crisis-planning-GPN.pdf.

[3] Aaron K. Chatterji and Michael W. Toffel, “The New CEO Activists,” Harvard Business Review (January–February 2018), https://hbr.org/2018/01/the-new-ceo-activists.

[4] Anthony Ewing, “Business and Human Rights: Lessons for Managing the Trump Presidency,” blog post, February 13, 2017, https://logosconsulting.net/business-and-human-rights-lessons-for-managing-the-trump-presidency/.

Anthony Ewing Leads Teaching Workshop in the UK

Logos Senior Fellow Anthony Ewing convened the eighth Teaching Business and Human Rights Workshop earlier this month at the University of Essex in Colchester, England. The seventy Workshop participants included individuals teaching “business and human rights” at universities in Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the USA. The Workshop was co-hosted by the Global Business and Human Rights Scholars Association.

In 2011, Ewing co-founded the Teaching Business and Human Rights Forum, a unique platform for collaboration among individuals teaching business and human rights worldwide. The Forum has grown to include more than 300 members teaching business and human rights at some 150 institutions in 40 countries.

The Forum’s in-person Teaching Workshops provide an opportunity for teachers to learn from one another and share their experiences in the classroom. This year’s Workshop featured thematic sessions on “Teaching BHR and Environmental Rights,” “Emerging BHR Topics,” and “Current Developments in Tools for Accountability,” and discussions on “Launching a BHR Curriculum” and “Classroom Strategies for Teaching BHR.”

Ewing has taught the course Transnational Business and Human Rights at Columbia University since 2001. In 2019, he launched an advanced seminar – Managing Human Rights –  at Columbia Law School. In the Classroom Strategies session, led by Ewing, he noted that

“We are at the point in the evolution of the discipline in which a comprehensive BHR curriculum would include an introductory course covering core topics, more advanced electives on specific topics, as well as clinical offerings that emphasize experiential learning.”

The Teaching Forum has proven to be a valuable resource promoting BHR education worldwide. More than 140 universities have added BHR courses or content to their curricula in the past decade. The multi-disciplinary subject is now being taught at schools of business, law and policy worldwide. Teaching Forum resources have been especially helpful for professors trying to make the case to their universities for creating new BHR courses, as well as for individuals already teaching the subject seeking to add new topics or teaching materials to their courses.

Ewing also edits the Teaching BHR Handbook (BHRHandbook.org), an online resource for teachers. For more information about the Teaching BHR Forum, visit TeachBHR.org.

Humility: A Competitive Advantage for Leaders

How humility helped win trust in the case of Bobby Kennedy

America lost one of its greatest leaders on June 5, 1968. Fifty years later, when the current administration is treating politics as a zero-sum game that turns people against each other, this leader and the humility he embodied is missed more than ever – a leader who made joint success possible by bringing out harmony and faith among all and whose humble leadership style is the antidote to today’s toxic political atmosphere.

I studied charisma and humility in my master’s thesis, which looked at how the two factors of the presidential candidates influence the election results. This blog post is the second in a series of blog posts where I analyze how humility functions as a valuable asset for some of the world’s greatest leaders. The first post was on Alibaba’s founder and former CEO Jack Ma. This one is on Bobby Kennedy.

Bobby played a pivotal role in the New Frontier of America, in fighting for civil rights and social justice during a moment of national crisis (the racial violence and the assassinations of his brother JFK, Martin Luther King Jr., and later his own in the 60s). Despite possible presumptions or colorful images people might have upon hearing his last name, Robert F. Kennedy, for many people even to this day, was remembered as a humble and moral leader who has come to embody “the Democratic Party’s lost dream.”

(Robert F. Kennedy campaigns in Detroit, May 1968.  Andrew Sacks—Getty Images)

 

Trust and Leadership

 

As of September 11, 2018, president Trump’s average approval rating was 38 percent, according to eight polling entities, down from his previous average approval rating of 41 percent. For comparison’s purpose, the then-president Bill Clinton’s approval ratings in September of 1994 hovered between 39 and 51.

Aside from the dwindling approval polling, the Trump administration has set the record in American modern history for administration turnover, according to NBC news. The result of a New York Times analysis of 21 top White House and cabinet positions back to President Bill Clinton shows how unusual the rampant turnover is through the first 14 months of a presidency.

A more direct demonstration of the deterioration of public trust in the current government is data collected by Pew Research Center since 1958, which shows the public trust plumped from 77 percent in 1964 to 18 percent at the end of 2017, and from 19 percent in October 2015 (the last data collected before Trump took office) to 18 percent at the end of 2017.

 

Trust is one of the most important measurement tools of leadership effectiveness. A leader without trust is like a ship captain without a helm, unequipped to lead or steer.

The fatal consequences of losing trust can be seen in both business and the political arena. On October 16, 2018, the court approved a settlement between Tesla CEO and chairman Elon Musk and Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). Charges of fraud were brought against Musk by the SEC over his “false and misleading tweet” in August, claiming that he had secured the funding of taking Tesla private at $420 per share – a substantial premium to its then trading price. On October 8, following the fraud charges on September 29, Tesla stock closed at the lowest low since March 2017, dropping 66 points since in just a week. Musk will step down as chairman of Tesla within 45 days and pay $20 million in fines from his personal funds.

Aside from hurting a company’s ability to raise capital, loss of trust in leadership can also harm a company’s strategic focus, employee morale and productivity, and demand for the company’s goods or services.

What Elon Musk and President Trump have in common is a lack is of humility, an underrated but transforming quality that helped Bobby Kennedy win the hearts and minds of people with diverse backgrounds. Trust in the Trump administration and for Tesla might have been preserved, if the leaders had possessed a dollop of humility.

Now that the important connection between trust and effective leadership has been established, the ways in which humility helped Bobby Kennedy win trust, and therefore succeed as a leader can be explored.

Bobby and Humility

 

In my master’s thesis, I define humility as “a virtue allowing people to have an accurate self-assessment and think less of themselves.” People who possess humility demonstrate it in different ways.

For Bobby, the most distinctive way he embodied humility was through his profound compassion, a capacity to listen, recognize and empathize with his fellow human being. “He felt the same empathy for white working men and women that he felt for Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans,” columnist Jack Newfield once observed. “He thought of cops, waitresses, construction workers and firefighters as his people.”

Bobby’s compassion came from the victimhood and discrimination he experienced growing up. Despite coming from the one of the richest families at that time, Bobby and his family were constantly the social outcasts due to their Irish Catholic identities – the reason why they ended up moving out of Boston. As a child, Bobby’s identity was heavily influenced by rejection he experienced from his father. The least favored Kennedy son’s generous and quiet personality was deemed to be a sign of weakness by his father.

Bobby’s older brother John F. Kennedy, affectionately known as Jack, who became the 35th President of the United States, gained a greater appreciation for his little brother around 1950, when he hired Bobby to manage his first Senate campaign. Bobby thereafter played a key role in Jack’s campaigns for the Senate and presidency. Jack charmed people with his big smile and lighthearted personality, while other more unpleasant jobs fell to Bobby. “I don’t have to think about organization. I just show up,” Jack once said. Their partnership worked well.

It was the night of the West Virginia primary of the 1960 election. Jack Kennedy wanted to be somewhere else because he thought he was going to lose. It turned out to be a big win. Bobby, who was seen as the tough brother of Jack throughout the contest, started to forge character of his own. In Charleston, where it had been raining all day, Bobby headed off to the wet streets to offer his respects to the race’s loser, Hubert Humphrey. “Everybody walked backwards, and there was a path from the door to the other side of the room where Hubert and Muriel were standing. I’ll never forget that walk if I live to be a hundred,” Joseph Rauh, a Humphrey supporter recalled. (Chris Matthews, 2017)

Humility also became a defining trait of Bobby’s policy ideas and management style, throughout his time as U.S. attorney general, New York state Senator, and while campaigning for presidency.

In the Justice Department, one of his regular routines was to tour the floors, introducing himself, but also stopping to listen. “He’d ask for only five minutes of their time, but he always wound up staying longer to learn more,” remembered by John Seigenthaler, Bobby’s administrative assistant. It was those small things that made the men and women working for him believe he would always support them as needed. Bobby therefore built a team, loyal to him, and loyal to each other. (Matthews, 2017)

Beginning in 1960, Bobby was one of the earliest Democrats, at that time, who openly supported Martin Luther King Jr. on civil rights movement. His efforts – a call to the Georgia judge to secure Dr. King’s release in 1960 and combating segregations in Birmingham in 1963 – all sent a clear message to the civil right activists that he was on their side. However, his efforts and remarks were met with objections and even humiliations. “I’ve seen you guys stand around and do nothing more than take notes while we’re being beaten,” Jerome Smith, one of the core activists said. Smith also openly declared that he’d never fight for his country. Bobby was furious. Yet with days passing, he found his way to understand. “I guess if I were in his shoes, if I’d gone through what he’s gone through, I might feel differently about this country,” He told one of his loyalists, and went on doing what he believed right – championing for those who were “not yet free.” (Mathews, 2017)

By the time of his run for president, Bobby had already won the hearts and minds of the people he devoted to. He secured 86% of the black vote in the Indiana primary. (LaFeber, 2005) Later, he declared the victory in California primary and addressed his supporter at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, with his last words echoing, “If we believe that we, as Americans, are bound together by a common concern for each other, then an urgent national priority is upon us. We must begin to end the disgrace of this other America.”

Bobby also won the trust from those who distrusted or hated the Kennedys at the beginning. “Early on I thought he was just a young rich kid, you know, trying to make to the politics,” says Paul Schrade, who later became a major advisor in Bobby’s presidential campaign. Schrade recalled in a Netflix documentary, “he turned into one of the most sincere persons involved in human values, and trying to do the right thing.”

Humility did not make Bobby any less effective as a strategist, as he always had been for his brother Jack in those back rooms of the White House. It instead helped him in forming his own personality when he had to run for office for himself after Jack’s assassination. The Bobby Kennedy whom people remember was the one who “seemed to carry the whole world’s suffering on him,” and who would give a busboy a firm “two-handed shake”. It was that Bobby whom people connected with, followed, and believed. “He seemed uniquely capable of preaching a message of reconciliation in a country violently torn at the seams in 1968,” commented by Politico Magazine. The MSNBC host and longtime political observer Christ Matthews writes, “what thrilled his supporters and scared the hell out of his opponents was that, they believed he’d do exactly what he said he would do.”

(New York City. 1966. Portrait of Robert KENNEDY in his apartment. Source: Netflix)

Conclusion: Lessons for Leaders

 

Humility, as well as compassion, embedded in it, fosters trust in leadership by creating an environment where those around them feel safe and motivated to communicate and to contribute, which in return, further strengthens the connections between the leaders and their followers. Additionally, humility helps leaders win trust by demonstrating the genuine gesture to their people that “I’m with you, and your well-being is part of the equation.” On the other hand, according to Forbes, “if they feel that you do what is best for yourself as opposed to what is good for everyone, they will have a hard time trusting you.”

Acuteness, toughness, and tenacity are qualities that come naturally to any successful leader. But these are not enough. Great leaders lead with humility, through which trust is born. Humility urges leaders to check the ego at the door and start to think about people around them. Who are they? What do they need? Are they happy or suffering? Are they taken care of? If those questions cannot be answered, simply start with reaching out and listening.

No leader can accomplish greatness alone. Humility is the competitive advantage for leaders in recognizing their limits and getting others to fight for or with them. Bobby Kennedy eloquently captured this in one of his most remembered address paying tribute to his late brother at the 1964 Democratic convention, which I deem to be a good ending for this article that will hopefully linger within whomever is reading this for a while, “No matter what talent an individual possesses, what energy he might have, no matter how much integrity and honesty he might have, if he is by himself – and particularly a political figure – he can accomplish very little.”

Logos President Interviews on Women Worldwide Podcast

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Logos Consulting Group president Helio Fred Garcia was a guest on the June 1, 2018 Women Worldwide Podcast hosted by Deirdre Breakenridge. The podcast is also broadcast on the C-Suite Radio Network.

Deirdre Breakenridge, host of Women Worldwide

Breakenridge is the CEO of Pure Performance Communications and the Author of Answers for Modern Communicators: A Guide to Effective Business Communication.

After more than 25 years of mentoring women and professionals in business and communications, Deirdre Breakenridge, an author, speaker, and consultant, launched her podcast, Women Worldwide, on C-Suite Radio to give women, and some men, a voice and platform to discuss their challenging yet rewarding career journeys. Interviewed by Breakenridge, women and men around the globe share their incredible stories; those who have experienced the heights of success and at times, the agony of defeat. With a vision to impart wisdom and to help people to soar to new heights, Women Worldwide uncovers different perspectives and ways for C-Suite listeners to find their inner strength.

 

The interview began with Breakenridge asking Garcia to share his journey as an immigrant to the United States.  Garcia responded,

I guess my journey is what you might call a typical American immigrant journey. I got to this country from Brazil when I was six. I actually arrived one week before first grade. And I didn’t speak a word of English… My first day of school I couldn’t understand what was going on and the teachers just concluded that I was dumb. Because of my appearance — I have fair skin and blue eyes and then had blonde hair — they didn’t see me as the typical Latin American immigrant. They just assumed that I was a dumb kid.”

Garcia described how he was essentially ignored by his teachers for the first five years of school.

“But in sixth grade a very special teacher took me aside on the first day and asked me a bunch of questions. And I have a vivid memory of her just smiling and beaming and her her chin lifting up to the sky and she let out a deep breath and said, ‘My son, you’re not stupid. You don’t speak English. And she realized that for five years I hadn’t failed in school; the school had failed me. And she made me her project.”

Garcia then described how that teacher had kept him after school for 90 minutes every day for a full year.

“We caught up with all the English I hadn’t learned and she had me begin to memorize public documents– the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address.  She had me speak in the front of the room. She had me do elocution. She had me recite so that every syllable could be heard in the back of the room. She had me put marbles in my mouth and do it again so she could hear every syllable. And by the end of that year I was not only caught up, I was way ahead of my classmates.”

After Garcia recounted his personal journey, Breakenridge shifted the discussion to issues arising from Garcia’s latest book, The Agony of Decision: Mental Readiness and Leadership in a Crisis.

You can hear the entire interview here:

 

 

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Humility: A Competitive Advantage for Leaders

How humility works as a leadership strength in the case of Jack Ma

Leaders in business and politics continue to pay high prices for arrogance. Just one example is the Trump administration, which has suffered from chaos and trust issues due in part to the high turnover rate of White House cabinet members, arguably a result from a president who’s not willing to listen. An antidote to that is humility, which has become an increasingly powerful competitive advantage for those who recognize and capture its value. Humility deserves a fairer evaluation in order to better serve leaders and organizations, as for too long it has been considered a vulnerability in leadership.

I studied charisma and humility in my master’s thesis on How These Characteristics of Presidential Candidates Influence Presidential Election and Retention in America. This blog is the first in a series of blogs where I will analyze how humility functions as a valuable asset for some of the greatest leaders worldwide, starting with Jack Ma, the founder and chairman of Alibaba Group.

 

September 2009, on Alibaba’s 10th anniversary celebration in Hangzhou, China, the company had grown into a team that filled 16,000 seats of the Yellow Dragon Stadium. The audience was full of cheers and applause when Jack Ma took the stage in a leather outfit, long white wig, and a wild-colored lipstick. Unlike other typical billionaire CEOs on this important night, Jack started to sing, like a ludicrous punk from the 70s. People outside of the company assumed him to be crazy and weird, but it wasn’t surprising at all for his employees; that was exactly their Jack, a guy they joke with everyday who just happens to be their boss.

(Jack Ma (center), together with his managers perform at the firm’s 10th anniversary celebration)

Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, has become one of the richest men in the world with a net worth of $46.9 billion. In the past 19 years, the e-commerce conglomerate has won a war with eBay in China, made the biggest IPO in the history of NYSE, and become one of the world’s largest technology companies and the world’s largest retail platform in terms of revenue. Jack was also ranked second in Fortune‘s 2017 “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” list.

Jack’s success as an entrepreneur and a leader can be credited to his judgement, strong will, and courage, but most importantly, to his distinctive charisma blended with humility that draws brilliant people to him and keeps them with him. His selflessness and genuine care for others are defining traits of his leadership. And this particular leadership style draws followers by crystallizing a mindset in them –  that is “I have faith in this person, and I want to be part of what he/she is doing.”

Humility & Leadership: How Jack Ma Does It

Let us first take a look at the humility embodied in the leadership style of Jack Ma, before analyzing how humility functions as a leadership competitive advantage using the example of Jack.

Jack came from a humble beginning. He started his career back in 1995 in his hometown Hangzhou, working as an English teacher making $12 USD a month. After his first trip to the U.S., where he was introduced to the Internet, he built the first Chinese internet company called “China Pages,” an English-language directory for Chinese companies and information, in the hope of attracting business and visitors overseas to China. While he failed to convince the Chinese government to corporate with China Pages on providing information, he realized how important it was for China to enter the international market before it was too late. “It doesn’t matter if I failed; at least I passed a concept to others. Even if I don’t succeed, someone will succeed one day,” he said in 1995 in a documentary.

In 1999, Jack took another shot at an internet idea. When the tide of the Internet finally came, he saw an opportunity to help small businesses in China sell more products domestically and globally. He founded Alibaba with 17 other people in his apartment. It often puzzles people how Jack convinced his co-founders to embrace such an audacious, unthinkable idea back in 1999 in China, and to be willingly led by a person with no money, no computer background or any government relations. A deeper dive in his personality and leadership style resolves the puzzlement.

(Jack and some early members of Alibaba)

Interestingly, Jack himself is never the center of his dreams, ambitions, or even thinking process. It’s always about doing good to his home country and empowering other people. A constant message Jack sends to his employees is that what they do is “making it easier to do business across the world,” and that this ease brings positive change that ripples through society. In a letter he sent to “Ali people” after the company’s IPO, he crowned their success to the reform and opening of China, and to the fortune of living in the era of the internet. He did not, however, applaud himself.

This egolessness and self-forgetfulness seems almost idiosyncratic in his level of accomplishment. However, this self-forgetfulness is paradoxically what has made Jack so successful as a leader.

Another remarkable aspect of Jack’s humility is a great level of empathy and genuine care for people. Jean Liu, the president of Didi Chuxing, the Chinese equivalent of Uber, and a longtime friend of Jack, learned from family friends that Jack repetitively visited a seamstress, whom he gets his clothes tailored by, after learning she was ill. “He genuinely cares about the people around him, ” Liu says.

After choosing to step down as Alibaba’s CEO in 2013, Jack devoted himself to advocating for causes related to the environment, health care, women’s empowerment, and education. He became the chairman of the board for The Nature Conservancy’s China Program, has hosted the annual Alibaba Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship, and has donated personal wealth to hospitals and schools in rural areas.

(Jack speaking at 2017 Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship)

How Humility Works

Since humility is a broad personality trait that is open to various interpretation, there are many ways to demonstrate it. In my master’s thesis, I defined humility as “a virtue allowing people to have an accurate self-assessment and think less of themselves.” I also created a five-item scale to measure humility; they are openness, tolerance and forgiveness, an accurate self-assessment, self-forgetfulness, and being highly secure.

Management expert Ken Blanchard says: “People with humility do not think less of themselves; they just think about themselves less.” (Dasa, 2014) JP Tangney also defines humility in her 2000 work, Humility: Theoretical Perspectives, Empirical Findings and Directions for Future Research, as “a relatively low self-focus, a ‘forgetting of the self,’ while recognizing that one is but one part of the larger universe.” The two definitions depict Jack’s humility best.

Jack has a very distinctive way of embodying humility. His most noteworthy aspects of humility are selflessness and genuine care, which are also the aspects of humility the article focuses on.

This type of humility serves as a leadership strength in two ways: first in creating a sense of inclusion (for existing employees), or a predilection to be included (for indirect stakeholders or even general public). Second, it inspires trust and loyalty.

A Harvard Business Review survey conducted globally among 1,500 workers found that “when employees observed altruistic or selfless behavior in their managers…they were more likely to report feeling included in their work teams,” and what’s more, “they were more likely to report engaging in team citizenship behavior, going beyond the call of duty, picking up the slack for an absent colleague.”

In Jack’s case, he is able to direct his ego away from himself in order to lead the company to a greater good, in benefiting both stakeholders and humanity at large. It makes it possible to instill a bigger-than-oneself sense of mission in his employees and cultivate a strong morale of championing for a shared cause.

With this type of humility, leaders are also able to inspire trust and loyalty by demonstrating genuine care and compassion.

Trust and loyalty don’t come naturally with a title; they have to be earned. According to an article published in Forbes, one important factor in earning trust is compassion; “People put faith in those who care beyond themselves.”  President of Logos Consulting Group Helio Fred Garcia said in a Columbia Leadership Course that followers tend to describe a great leader in three ways, one being a sense of protection and affection from that leader. The other two are an identification that they have something in common and a sense of that person is further along in capacity than they are.

When it comes to Jack, humility enables Jack not only to care for his people, but also to abandon the autocratic management style that he grew up with in China and to be open to different opinions and feedback. In an article in 2015 in the peer reviewed journal Global Journal of Management and Business Research, Chanttel Tham Jo Ee analyzed Alibaba’s management style stating that Jack’s style is highly advantageous in terms of “engendering loyalty from the employees, and leading to a lower labor turnover.” When people feel well taken care of and that their feelings, contributions, and opinions matter, trust and loyalty in leadership are natural outcomes.

 

Conclusion

Through a thorough study of charisma and humility in my thesis, I concluded that a prophetic vision is one of the attributes that make a leader charismatic. Nevertheless, vision itself is not enough. Humility lends credibility and persuasiveness to that vision, as well as to that leader.

One of the key factors that contributes to Jack’s success is his sincerity and trustworthiness, and consequently his ability to make others believe his idea. Even with President Trump, who is all about “America first” and anti-globalization, Jack was able to sell a China-U.S. e-commerce partnership proposal. It is his humility that makes his vision so convincing that the idea of fighting with him or under his lead so irresistible.

That is how humility sparkles in leadership.

Logos Participates in Religions for Peace Board Meeting

Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, advancing common action among the world’s religious communities for peace. Logos Consulting Group has advised Religions for Peace as a pro bono publico client for more than 15 years, and Logos president Helio Fred Garcia has served on its Board of International Trustees for the past six years.

The global Religions for Peace network comprises a World Council of senior religious leaders from all regions of the world; six regional inter-religious councils and more than 90 national ones; and the Global Women of Faith Network and Global Interfaith Youth Network.

 

L to R: Bishop Gunnar Stalsett, Bishop Emeritus of Oslow, Church of Norway, and Honorary President of Religions for Peace; Metropolitan Emanuel Adamakis, Vice President, Conference of European Churches; Cardinal Raymundo Assis, Archbishop Emeritus of Aparecida, São Paulo, Brazil.

 

In mid-October 2017 Religions for Peace held its annual meeting of its World Council of religious leaders and its Board of International Trustees, as a strategy planning session for the next World Assembly of Religions for Peace, in 2019.

Dr. William H. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace, briefing the meeting on the current state of Religions for Peace.

 

The meeting was held in the American Academy in Rome, Italy.

The theme of the meeting was “Advancing a Moral Alliance Among the World’s Religions for an Integral Ecology,” using a phrase that Pope Francis coined in a recent encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’. The meeting began with a private audience with His Holiness, Pope Francis, in the Vatican.

His Holiness addressing the Religions for Peace World Council of Religious Leaders and Board of International Trustees in the Vatican

 

In his address to the Religions for Peace World Council and Board, His Holiness said,

“I express my esteem and appreciation for the work of Religions for Peace. You provide a valuable service to both religion and peace, for religions are bound by their very nature to promote peace through justice, fraternity, disarmament, and care for creation.

There is a need for a common and cooperative effort on the part of religions in promoting an integral ecology. The religions have the wherewithal to further a moral covenant that can promote respect for the dignity of the human person and care for creation.

Thanks be to God, in various parts of the world we have any number of good examples of the power of inter-religious cooperation to oppose violent conflicts, to advance sustainable development and to protect the earth. Let us continue along this path.”

Logos president Helio Fred Garcia meeting His Holiness, Pope Francis at the beginning of the Religions for Peace Board meeting.

 

The Vatican played a central role in the meeting, through the offices of Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, a part of the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s administrative body.

L to R: Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje, Grand Mufti, Uganda Muslim Supreme Council; Cardinal Jean Louise Tauran, President, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Vatican; Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad, Dean, Department of Islamic Studies, Academy of Sciences, Iran; Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, UK, Kenya, India.

 

The two-day meeting featured substantive planning of critical issues to be addressed in the next World Assembly of Religions for Peace, held every seven to nine years, that brings together more than 2,000 religious leaders from all major faith communities in the world.

L to R: Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Trustee, Professor, Columbia University, and Special Advisor, UN Secretary-General on Sustainable Development Goals; Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje, Grand Mufti, Uganda Muslim Supreme Council;Bishop Gunnar Stalsett, Bishop Emeritus of Oslow, Church of Norway; Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria; Religions for Peace Secretary General Dr. William Vendley; and Mrs. Christine Brown, Trustee, and Chair, Institute of Healthy Air, Water, and Soil, Louisville, Kentucky.

 

The planning meeting in mid-October, 2017 included working groups in three separate work streams:

  • Conflict transformation: the use of religious leadership and religious community to stop violence being conducted in the name of religion; to prevent conflicts from occurring in the first place; and to create social conditions for peace and stability in otherwise unstable parts of the world. Religions for Peace acknowledges the reality that religion is all-too-often being misused in support of violent threats to Peace – by extremists, by unscrupulous politicians, by the sensationalist media, and others. Through the years Religions for Peace has amassed a record of successful engagement in a number of conflict areas, including: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Burundi, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the Mano River and Great Lakes African sub-regions, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, and Syria.

    Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad, Dean, Department of Islamic Studies, Academy of Sciences, Iran, denouncing ISIS and others who hijack the identity of Islam to commit violence, and calling for all Islamic leaders to denounce violence in the name of Islam.


  • Sustainable development: equipping religious leaders and communities with the necessary resources and knowledge to address critical issues of health and well-being, education, climate action, and distribution of resources to reveal the potential inherent in all human communities. Extreme poverty threatens peace and human flourishing by depleting health, perpetuating existing inequalities, and jeopardizing access to basic human rights.

Jeffrey Sachs, Trustee, Professor, Columbia University and Special Advisor, UN Secretary-General on Sustainable Development Goals, addressing the challenges of sustainable development.

 

  • Protecting the earth: addressing climate change, safe drinking water, and other environmental challenges. Religions for Peace is faced with a clear moral imperative to respond to threats to the planet. For the world’s major religions, care for the earth is a religious obligation. Working with top climate scientists and development experts, Religions for Peace has developed and deployed climate sensitive advocacy and action training materials across its global networks as well as implemented multi religious initiatives in partnership with other concerned entities—especially the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Vatican.

Logos President Helio Fred Garcia presenting a strategic path for religious leaders and communities to protect the earth.

 

Each working group developed a statement of problem, a proposed path forward to engage the world’s religious communities, and actionable steps to take between now and the World Assembly to show the impact that multi-religious cooperation can have on each of these challenges.

L to R Religions for Peace International Co-Moderators, Dr. Vinu Aram, Director, Shanti Ashram, India; Rev. Kosho Niwano, President-Designate, Rissho Kossei-kai, Japan.

These recommendations will now become part of the work coordinated by Religions for Peace’s International Secretariat, based at the United Nations in New York, and will be implemented through the six regional and more than 90 national inter-religious councils in the Religions for Peace network over the next two years. Results from that work will form the policy agenda for tenth World Assembly of Religions for Peace in 2019.

The Religions for Peace World Council of Religious Leaders, Board of International Trustees, and invited civic and foundation leaders, at the American Academy in Rome

 

Integrity as Competitive Advantage

How Lyft’s new slogan capitalizes on the ethical shortcomings of its biggest competitor and why leaders need to pay attention

Lyft’s new slogan “It matters how you get there” prompts a natural and provocative follow-up question, what matters how you get there? The answer, is the integrity of the individuals, companies, or organizations consumers choose to be involved with. “You always have a choice,” begins actor Jeff Bridges in the televised version of the ad, “choose to ride with the right people, doing things for the right reasons, you’ll always end up in the right place.”

The slogan is a thinly veiled yet tactful jab at Lyft’s larger and ethically dubious competitor, Uber. 2017 was the year Uber fell from grace as the vaunted $70 billion ridesharing pioneer to the poster child for everything-wrong-with-Silicon-Valley-companies. Allegations of sexism and harassment (see former employee Susan Fowler’s astounding blog post), intellectual property theft (see Google’s lawsuit against Uber), and evasion of the authorities (see the Department of Justice’s investigation into its use of “Greyball” software) all make the list of Uber’s missteps for the calendar year, culminating in co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick’s forced ouster in June under pressure from board members. Lyft, all the while, watched and waited silently in the wings. Until now that is.   

(Travis Kalanick, photo Source: Scottamyx.com)

Themes of right and wrong, good versus evil are as captivating as they are ingrained in the human experience because they force us to contemplate our identity, and ask which side am I on? Which side is (insert company/public figure/organization) on? Which side should I choose? Lyft’s emphasis on choice and choosing “right” not only speaks to the human preoccupation with where we fall on the spectrum between good and evil, it also elevates Lyft as the ethical superior to Uber, spelling dollar signs for Lyft and more defensive maneuvering for Uber.

Behaving ethically is not good for business only in terms of image, which is easily shattered when actions incongruent with stated values become public knowledge. Ethical integrity is and will continue to be a critical part of business’ ability to attract and retain top talent and customers, which are essential to survival. “They no longer look at it as just a paycheck,” CEO of Pepsi Indra Nooyi said recently in an interview with Fortune, of the sea change she’s observed in the needs and desires of today’s workforce. “We have to weave purpose into the core business model of the company.” The purpose Indra Nooyi speaks of is fundamentally linked to the fulfillment that comes with compliance with ethical standards. Clearly stated ethical standards give people the opportunity to live as they know they should, and fulfill the expectations set before them creating a sense of competence that is essential to happiness and productivity. As for consumers, the ability afforded by social media to say and do something about one’s concerns means people will continue to call out businesses and their leaders for ethical breaches, both real and perceived.   

What are ethics anyway, and why should leaders, businesses, and organizations care about them? Ethics are standards of behavior that inform how a society, or any group of people with common interests, should behave. Ethics are concerned with the actions people take, and the rightness or wrongness of those actions. Morals, which are related to but conceptually distinct from ethics, inform why a person chooses one action over another or believes one action to be better than another; morals are a person’s internal belief system of what is good and bad. It is possible however, for a person to perform an action that is against his or her internal belief system; morals are not obvious in the way a person’s actions are. Ethics are public; morals are private.

Companies and leaders would be wise to take a page from Lyft’s playbook on the following:

  • Capitalize on opportunities to share what you and your business are doing right. People instinctively want to identify with being “good” and “right” and will choose the product, service, or company that’s actions align with this desired self-concept.
  • When it comes to the competition, play the long game. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military strategist, prudence is essential to victory over one’s enemy. After five years of being compared as the plucky number two to Uber’s domineering number one spot in the ridesharing sector, Lyft knew how and when to capitalize on their competitor’s missteps, without interference or immature gloating on their part.

If there is one thing to learn from Lyft’s clever and disciplined response to its competitor’s self-inflicted wounds, it is that genuinely maintaining the ethical high ground provides opportunity for lasting and substantial competitive advantage.

Well played, Lyft.      

Business and Human Rights: Lessons for Managing the Trump Presidency

The Trump administration’s January 27th executive order banning refugees and certain legal immigrants from entering the United States galvanized businesses into action. Companies immediately affected by the ban, like airlines, scrambled to manage the impact on their customers. U.S.-based companies with global operations and diverse workforces, like Coca-Cola, Ford, Goldman Sachs, Google and Nike made forceful public statements opposing the ban. Technology and media companies expressed concern for their employees and operations. Starbucks announced plans to hire 10,000 refugees. Companies like Amazon and Microsoft joined the State of Washington’s successful lawsuit challenging the legality of the immigration ban. Apple and more than 125 other companies signed a brief defending the nationwide restraining order. Even companies that have not addressed the impact of the ban publicly are managing its fallout. From assisting affected employees to fielding inquiries from concerned employees and others, few large enterprises could avoid addressing the federal government’s sudden attempt to close U.S. borders to certain groups of people, targeting refugees and Muslims.

The immigration ban is the first of many ethical dilemmas companies will confront under this administration.

Trump signing order January 27The Trump administration brings unprecedented levels of uncertainty for businesses. The immigration ban is the first of many ethical dilemmas companies will confront under this administration. Trump’s controversial proposals include detaining and deporting all undocumented residents of the United States, including children; and creating a Muslim registry. Corporate boards, CEOs and their advisors are asking themselves how the most extreme Trump proposals would affect their company’s people, customers and communities, and how their company should respond. Companies prefer not to address these questions on the fly.

Well-managed companies anticipate risks to their business and plan accordingly. It is no surpsrise that some of the global brands moving quickly to defend the rights of their employees, customers and communities against harmful executive action on immigration in the United States have been working for years to integrate human rights considerations into their global operations. Nike, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Google, Ford and Microsoft have all faced human rights challenges in the past – from child labor to complicity with abusive security forces to government censorship – and have drawn management lessons from their mistakes. Companies reacting to the immigration ban are pursuing many strategies used by companies seeking to meet their human rights responsibilities, but without articulating any conceptual framework for their actions.

The business and human rights movement provides a roadmap for managing business risks under Trump. Executives and managers looking for a conceptual framework to organize their responses to Trump’s policies, and road-tested tools to manage them, can apply the corporate responsibility to respect human rights to their United States operations.

The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights

The business and human rights movement provides a roadmap for managing business risks under Trump. 

UNGPs CoverBusiness and human rights” is a management discipline that has emerged over the past three decades. An international benchmark, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011) (PDF), reflects the working consensus among business, governments and civil society on what companies can do to meet their corporate responsibility to respect human rights. Specifically, companies must:

  • Avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities, and address such impacts when they occur; and
  • Seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships, even if they have not contributed to those impacts.

To meet this standard, companies have adopted human rights policies, are conducting due diligence to understand the human rights impacts of their operations and business relationships, and finding ways to prevent, mitigate and remedy adverse human rights impacts.

CablammetchMost attention has focused on the human rights impacts of multinationals outside their home countries, typically in places where corporate activity is connected to human rights violations – like child labor, human trafficking and torture – and where legal accountability for perpetrators and remedies for victims are lacking. The most familiar examples are sweatshops in global apparel supply chains and complicity with abusive security forces by oil and mining companies, but advocates have shined a spotlight on the human rights impacts of companies in sectors ranging from agriculture and consumer products to healthcare and technology.

Business and Human Rights under Trump

The business and human rights landscape in the United States shifted dramatically with the election of Donald Trump.

Dodd FrankThe business and human rights landscape in the United States shifted dramatically with the election of Donald Trump.

The prospect of stronger U.S. government action to protect individuals from corporate misconduct has vanished. One of the final initiatives of the Obama administration in December 2016 was the release of a U.S. National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct describing the federal policies and governmental expectations for the conduct of U.S corporations operating abroad, including their responsibility to respect human rights consistent with the UN Guiding Principles. Corporate accountability advocates are rightly concerned that the Trump administration will fail to consistently implement the laws and policies contained in the National Action Plan. The ideology and policy prescriptions of Trump’s advisors and cabinet, abetted by Republicans in Congress, means the likely weakening of protections for consumers, workers, and communities against corporate abuses under federal U.S. law, especially concerning the activities of U.S. companies abroad. Regulations of corporate conduct are more likely to be stripped than strengthened. (One exception may be the issue of tax avoidance, for which companies could face greater scrutiny if Trump’s rhetoric becomes policy.) The modest federal human rights reporting requirements enacted during the past decade, like the conflict mineral provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, are already targeted for elimination. The Trump regime may even stop prosecuting companies for bribing foreign officials under the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act. Advocates will have to rely on other tools to promote corporate responsibility for human rights impacts.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty ImagesAbsent government enforcement, voluntary corporate action has become the backstop for meeting the corporate responsibility to respect human rights in the United States. The policy shift in Washington may be good news for business executives who subscribe to a “profits at all costs” business model. It is deeply troubling, however, for the business leaders, managers and employees who know that business success in the long run (beyond the next earnings cycle) is inextricably tied to meeting the expectations of customers, investors and employees that companies demonstrate corporate responsibility, their so-called “license to operate.” Leading companies, especially those companies that have integrated compliance and human rights standards into the way they do business, are unlikely to make bribery or human rights violations part of their business plans. Unethical executives will be less likely to get caught, but responsible companies will continue to comply with the spirit of the UN Guiding Principles. U.S. federal regulators may be instructed to look the other way when companies do harm, but the corporate responsibility spotlight now shines brighter than ever on business operations in the United States.

In a complete role reversal, business leaders may need to mobilize to hold the U.S. government accountable for protecting human rights and obeying the Constitution. U.S. companies face the real prospect of human rights violations connected to their operations much closer to home. Multinationals operating in the United States will be asked to demonstrate that they are respecting human rights whenever U.S. government policies fall short of international standards, and significantly, if government actions violate the United States Constitution. Businesses will also face pressure, as they are right now regarding the immigration ban, to deploy corporate resources as a check on the U.S. government.

Rights under Threat

The corporate responsibility spotlight now shines brighter than ever on business operations in the United States.

Internationally recognized human rights threatened by proposed actions of the Trump administration include the rights to non-discrimination; to recognition and equality before the law; to protection from arbitrary arrest and from interference with privacy; to personal security; to freedom of opinion and expression; to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; to political participation; and to freedom of association. These rights, defined under international law in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights and labor treaties, are the focus of corporate efforts to manage their human rights impacts outside the United States. Other rights that have received less attention by most companies may now come into play, such as prohibitions of “propaganda for war” and “advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence” (ICCPR, Article 20), and the right of “ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities” to “enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religions, or to use their own language.” (ICCPR, Article 27). The Trump campaign and administration have demonstrated a willingness to engage in such tactics in the United States, and to target minorities.

The Corporate Responsibility to Respect the U.S. Constitution

U.S. ConstitutionCompanies operating in the United States should consider the U.S. Constitution together with the international human rights instruments to define their potential human rights impacts. Most internationally recognized human rights are protected in some form under United States law at the federal, state and/or local level. The United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights, for example, enumerates rights including the free exercise of religion (First Amendment): the freedoms of speech, of the press, and of assembly (First Amendment); freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures (Fourth Amendment); the right to vote (Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-Fourth, Twenty-Sixth Amendments); and the rights to citizenship, due process and equal protection of the law (Fourteenth Amendment).

Companies can add “US Constitutional rights” to human rights principles as another lens through which they manage the impacts of their operations in the United States.

Companies can add “US Constitutional rights” to human rights principles as another lens through which they manage the impacts of their operations in the United States. If federal, state or local authorities in the United States engage in systematic discrimination; target individuals or groups for harassment based on national origin or religion; curtail press freedoms; seek to arrest undocumented individuals; separate children from their families; or arbitrarily restrict the right to vote; their actions or omissions are likely to be both unconstitutional and violate international human rights.

Human Rights Impact Management

In the Trump era, companies must exercise due diligence to identify, prevent and mitigate the domestic human rights impacts of their operations and business relationships in the United States.

Due DiligenceCompanies can manage the risks of contributing or being connected to government actions that violate human and Constitutional rights using the same concepts and tools that apply a human rights lens to their non-U.S. operations. In the Trump era, companies must exercise due diligence to identify, prevent and mitigate the domestic human rights impacts of their operations and business relationships in the United States.

If U.S. government action violates rights, companies must take steps not to cause or contribute to any of the human rights impacts, and must be prepared to respond appropriately when any of these scenarios touch their people, products, or partners.

Companies should be prepared to do five things to manage their human rights impacts and meet their responsibilities to respect rights under Trump:

1.  Protect employees.

EmployeesWhen government actions threaten or harm employees, companies must act to support and protect them. The priority for companies in the wake of the immigration ban has been to identify affected employees, ensure their safety, and provide assistance, such as travel, legal and financial support. Providing employees with clear, accurate information about the immigration ban and its impact, so that individuals can take action to protect themselves and their families, is a first step companies can take to meet their responsibility to employees. Employees are the stakeholder group companies can help most directly, but businesses must also consider how to support and protect others connected to their particular business, such as customers, business partners and the communities where they operate.

2.  Avoid complicity.

Rally Against the Immigration Ban (32487627352)Companies must ensure that they are not contributing to rights violations in any way. A practical first step for businesses is to apply international standards for effective human rights due diligence, such as human rights impact assessments, to their corporate operations and business relationships in the United States. Airlines that refuse to allow passage to refugees in the wake of the immigration ban, for example, are at risk of complicity with violations of the right to seek asylum under international law. Particularly important will be corporate relationships with the U.S. government, its agencies and the Trump administration. CEOs serving as advisors to the Trump administration are already attracting extra scrutiny from customers and rights advocates. If the Trump administration were to attempt to detain all undocumented residents of the United Sates or to create a national registry based on religious belief, companies should not provide information nor supply products or services that would foreseeably contribute to rights violations.

Once a company understands how its operations, products or relationships are connected to potential or actual rights violations in the United States, the business must act to cease or prevent its own violation or contribution, and use its leverage to prevent and mitigate violations by others. Exercising leverage may take the form of challenging rights violations or opposing harmful policies. Companies connected to human rights violations committed by government security forces outside the United States have intervened with government authorities seeking to prevent the violations, promoted standard-setting and training initiatives to prevent future violations, and have ended business relationships to ensure they are not connected to violations. U.S. companies are beginning to use their leverage, individually and collectively, to prevent and mitigate the impact of the immigration ban. One can imagine scenarios in which companies refuse to provide goods or services to U.S. government agencies violating rights, or in the case of non-U.S. companies, pull out of the U.S. market altogether if the violations are sufficiently severe.

3.  Mitigate harmful impacts.

NondiscriminationWhen companies are unable to stop harmful policies and actions by others, they can seek to mitigate the negative impact on their employees, customers, business partners and communities. Companies have sought to comply with the spirit of international human rights standards outside the United States by protecting rights “within the factory walls.” Brands sourcing from factories in China, for example, where independent trade unions are banned, have promoted the creation of factory worker councils to bring concerns over working conditions to management. Businesses must consider ways to ensure that their U.S. workplaces provide safe spaces where individual rights are protected. Adopting workplace policies reinforcing a commitment to non-discrimination and prohibiting the harassment of any individual based on national origin or immigration status is one concrete way to meet the corporate responsibility to respect rights.

4.  Challenge rights violations.

Companies must obey the laws wherever they operate, yet the corporate responsibility to respect human rights goes beyond legal compliance. What is lawful may still violate an individual’s rights. Challenges arise for companies when local law or its enforcement conflicts with international standards. Companies must be prepared to challenge government actions that are unconstitutional or violate human rights.

Tech CompaniesIn countries where laws explicitly contradict international human rights standards, companies have found ways to minimize their connection to human rights violations by others. In China, Brazil and elsewhere, for example, foreign technology firms have insisted upon valid judicial orders before acquiescing to demands from government officials to turn over personally identifiable user information for questionable purposes. Companies may face similar situations in the United States if asked by law enforcement authorities to turn over personal information related to their employees’ or customers’ national origin, immigration status or religious beliefs. Businesses can exhaust all available legal processes, as Apple successfully refused to collaborate with the FBI to unlock encrypted iPhones, and challenge the legality of government actions in court, as some companies are now doing in opposition to the immigration ban. Companies can also communicate publicly about government actions that violate rights, using transparency to highlight actual and potential rights violations. Since 2009, for example, Google has published a “Transparency Report” with data on government requests to hand over user data, and how the company responds. Companies will need to be more transparent about what the U.S. government under Trump asks them to do, and the likely consequences of compliance.

5.  Oppose harmful policies.

Google CEOCompanies in diverse sectors are speaking out against the immigration ban. In response to government actions targeting Muslims, immigrants and refugees, companies are directing corporate resources toward organizations defending these groups and their rights. Multinational companies have learned that the corporate responsibility to respect human rights often requires advocating for governments to fulfill their own human rights obligations. Companies have criticized rights violations by governments around the world and opposed harmful government policies privately, publicly and in partnership with others through business associations, coalitions and advocacy networks. More businesses will need to become public rights advocates in the United States. 

Starbucks-refugee-cupCorporate advocacy is most effective when it reinforces company values. U.S. companies in recent years have publicly opposed state laws in the United States that would permit discrimination based on sexual preference. Since the election, U.S. companies have spoken out to let their stakeholders know where they stand on the most extreme Trump proposals.

When engaging in public advocacy on rights issues in the United States, companies will need to overcome any cultural reluctance to speak out publicly. This will seem even riskier because Trump has embraced the “naming and shaming” of individual companies to advance his political agenda. Companies at the center of the business and human rights movement, however, understand that customers, employees and investors often view corporate silence in the face of rights violations as tacit complicity.

Human rights impact management accounts for all of these strategies.

The discipline that accounts for all of these strategies is human rights impact management, an approach that more and more business leaders may now embrace to effectively manage the Trump administration. What is your company doing to meet its corporate responsibility to respect rights in the United States?

Anthony P. Ewing (aewing@logosconsulting.net) is a Senior Advisor at Logos Consulting Group and a Lecturer at Columbia Law School, where he teaches business and human rights.

Logos President Co-Authors Crisis Article in Leading Korean Business Journal

Logos Consulting Group president Helio Fred Garcia co-authored an analysis of one of South Korea’s biggest crises of 2016 in Korea’s leading business journal, Dong-A Business Review.

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The analysis was co-authored with Dr. Hoh Kim, founder, head coach, and facilitator at THE LAB h in Seoul, Korea.

Dr. Hoh Kim, founder, The Lab h, Seoul

Dr. Hoh Kim, founder, The Lab h, Seoul

Dr.  Kim, former head of Edelman’s Korea office, is a certified trainer in the Cialdini Method developed by Dr. Robert Cialdini, and a certified coach in the Marshall Goldsmith Certified Stakeholder Centered Coaching method.  Dr. Kim is the primary author of the Dong-A Business Review analysis.

Their article examines the crises surrounding The Lotte Group, one of Korea’s leading industrial conglomerates.  Lotte Group consists of more than 60 business units and employs 60,000 people in such industries as hotels, beverages, candy manufacturing, fast food, retail, financial services, chemicals, electronics, IT, construction, publishing, and entertainment.

lotte-logo

In October Lotte Group’s Chairman, Shin Dong-bin, was indicted on tax evasion, embezzlement, and other charges.  His sister, Shin Young Ja, was arrested several months before for embezzlement and bribery.

Lotte Group is one of Korea’s chaebols, family run business conglomerates, a common form of business organization in Korea.

You can download the complete original Korean language version of the analysis here.

An English translation follows below:


Untitled

The Crisis Management of Lotte

‘A red team’ that challenges a corporation from within is necessary
in the era of ‘reputation management’

Co-authored by

Hoh Kim, Founder, Head Coach & Lead Facilitator, THE LAB h and
Helio Fred Garcia, President of Logos Consulting Group

Published at Dong-A Business Review (DBR), December 2016 Issue 2 (No. 215), pp. 90-94, in Korea

AUTHORS

  • Dr. Hoh Kim graduated from Hankuk university of foreign studies, where he majored in French literature and philosophy. He earned his master’s degree in PR at Marquette university and his Ph.D at Graduate School of Culture Technology, KAIST. He is one of the 19 Cialdini Method Certified Trainers (CMCT) approved and endorsed by Robert Cialdini, the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.  He has previously led the Korea office of Edelman, a global PR firm and written several books including Cool Apology (co-authored), Cool Survival Kits, Reputation Society (co-authored) and Why I Can’t Say No (all in Korean).
  • Dr. Helio Fred Garcia is the founder of Logos Consulting Group and has more than 35 years of experience in crisis management, executive coaching and consulting. He is an adjunct professor of management in NYU’s Stern School of Business Executive MBA program, where he teaches crisis management. He is the author of  The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively, and is the co-author with John Doorley of  Reputation Management: The Key to Successful Public Relations and Corporate Communication, which was translated into Korean and published as Reputation Management Strategy in Korea by Alma Press in 2016.

 

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ABSTRACT

According to the book Reputation Management Strategy, the formula for reputation is ‘Reputation = (financial) performance + (organizational) behavior + (corporate) communication’. The Lotte crisis has largely been triggered by problems with its organizational behavior. First, ‘an owner risk’ has occurred in leadership behavior and second, in corporate behavior dealing with its customers and business partners, the company led people to believe that it is not an ethical company. Finally, Lotte has failed in communication because there has been a huge gap between its short-term responses, actual leadership behaviors and its nominal long-term vision.

This article offers suggestions for Korean companies that are facing  challenges similar to Lotte’s.

For starters, companies need to get stakeholders to be involved so that they can constantly challenge the companies from the outside. Second, corporations need to have something like ‘a red team’ or ‘a devil’s advocate’ within the organization so that they can bring genuine change to corporate behavior.

ARTICLE

This year the Lotte Group experienced its worst crisis. Here are some questions we need to ask concerning the issue:

  • Q1. How did people first respond to the scandal? Did they say “No, Lotte would never do such a thing” Or did they say “I told you so”.
  • Q2. How would you respond if someone tells you that you are acting just like Lotte?  Would you feel flattered or offended or just regard the comment as neutral?
  • Q3. Lotte has made several promises to reform it. Which one impressed you the most? Do you really believe that the company will keep the promises?

We will explain later why these questions matter for Korean businesses in terms of crisis management. In the meantime we want readers to find the answers to the questions on their own.

For the most part, when we analyze a case, we take a careful look at it as if cameras zoom in. And then we figure out what the problem was and how the problem should have been solved. But in the case of Lotte, one of the authors (Dr. Hoh Kim) thought that when it came to solving the problems there was little Lotte could do in the short term. There were three reasons for this.

  • First, the core of the crisis lay in conflicts among three members of the founder’s family.
  • Second, the founder has failed to smoothly pass down the business to his children, which should have been done over the course of years or decades.
  • Third, it is only the founder and his family who could have prevented these problems.

In this article we’d like to talk about Lotte’s crisis management from a reputational perspective.

In the field of crisis management, there is something called issue index. The index refers to a list of potential issues that might occur to a company in the future. When we were reading news articles about the 2016 Lotte crisis, it almost felt like we were seeing the issue index of Korean conglomerates in general. Of course, how dangerous the problems are and how the issues affect the businesses can be different from company to company.

But it is worth looking into the Lotte case because so many Korean conglomerates share the same kinds problems as Lotte. Conflict over succession and slush funds are a good example.

The authors discussed how we could approach the Lotte case and decided to suggest a common tool that can be applied to other Korean chaebols. (Chaebols are large Korean business conglomerates, mostly family led.)

We believe that it would be helpful to develop ‘a mirror’ that other companies or business people could use to reflect themselves, not ‘a mere window’ through which other conglomerates may just watch and do nothing.  But a mirror to create self-awareness.

Also, with this analysis we’d like to present the last puzzle piece to Korean chaebols that can help them advance their management of crisis and reputation.

One Element in the Reputation Formula that
Most Korean Conglomerates are Missing:

The book Reputation Management Strategy that Dr. Garcia has co-written with John Doorley introduces a reputation formula as below:

Reputation =
(Financial) Performance + (Organizational) Behavior + (Corporate) Communication

The seriousness of the Lotte crisis lies not just in legal risks that it might face but also in a damage to its reputation.

The crisis facing Lotte at the moment is completely different from a crisis that a conglomerate might encounter when it fails to do well in its operations. The current Lotte crisis is highly likely to directly hurt its reputation. So in this case one of the most important crisis-management goals is to recover reputation.

What lessons can the reputation formula offer to Korean Chaebols as a whole as well as to Lotte?

The three elements in the formula are:

    1. Financial Performance
      • Long-Term Performance
      • Short-Term Performance
    2. Organizational Behavior
      • Leadership Behavior
      • Behavior Towards Others
      • Behavior Towards Society
    3. Corporate Communication
      • Tactical and Short-Term Communication v. Strategic & Long-Term Communication
      • External Communication v. Internal Communication

Financial performance, as an element that affects reputation, has two factors: long-term performance and short-term performance. Long-term performance can include profits of the last 10 years or long-term growth potential. Profit for the year is an example of short-term performance. In the case of Lotte, financial performance was not the major factor that affected its reputation.

When it comes to organizational behavior, there are three factors:

  • The first is leadership behavior.
    When the Lotte crisis took place, the behavior of the founder’s family was broadcast almost in real time and not just Lotte employees but also the public were able to learn about it. The conflict among the family members exposed various problems within the chaebol including opaque business practices and governance structure, and succession-related problems. And all these conflicts still remain unresolved. What is unique about founder’s family-related problems is the fact that both the crisis maker and the crisis manager are the founder and his family dynasty. This is a serious problem because it is almost impossible for the employees to take actions to solve the problem. All they can do is simply following orders from the founder’s family.
  • The second factor of organizational behavior is about consumers and business partners.
    This includes how satisfied consumers are with the products and services provided by Lotte and what its partners (vendors) think of working with Lotte.
  • The third factor is about corporate behavior towards society.
    So-called ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ is a good example of this.  In October, Lotte’s Chairman, Shin Dong-bin, made a public apology and announced reform plans. In the plans, he adjusted the original growth target of increasing its sales to 200 trillion Won (Korean currency) by 2020 and of becoming Asia’s tenth largest company. He then shifted his focus to corporate social responsibility, particularly philanthropy, and said he would put more emphasis on meeting people’s expectation and promoting social values. He stopped short of detailing his plans for fulfilling corporate social responsibility.

In fact, what really matters when it comes to corporations’ social behavior is not philanthropic activities but how companies make profit.

As a matter of fact, in ISO 26000, an International Standard providing guidelines for social responsibility, the word ‘philanthropy’ is mentioned only once. According to the standard, how responsible a company is depends on how much the company contributes to things like human rights, labor practices, the environment, fair business practices, consumer issues and local communities. ISO asserts that corporate social responsibility is about how to make a profit, not about what to do with profit. In other words, to become socially responsible, a company needs to make profit in positive ways. Whether it engages in charitable activities or not is a minor issue. Korean chaebols need to do more in this regard.

Corporate communication, the last factor of the reputation formula, includes both tactical and short-term communication activities like press release and press conference, and strategic and long-term communication activities such as creating corporate missions, visions and values.

Another form of corporate communication includes communication with consumers and the public and communication with employees.  If you go to Lotte’s website(lotte.co.kr), you can find its management policies. The first policy is about transparency and it reads: “we shall promote transparency in our operation and financial performance by tightening self-monitoring systems and strengthening regulatory tools”.

The company also says that it shall put the idea into practice by establishing a system that helps its shareholders understand how the company is doing, by honestly sharing management-related information and decision making and by actively supporting the board of directors and creating a committee that promotes transparent business practices.

One of the core values of the company is responsibility and it reads: “we shall always honestly run the business and contribute to social development by fulfilling our social responsibility. And its action guidelines read: we shall not cover up our mistakes and immediately inform our mistakes and correct them; we shall execute our tasks according to legal, ethical and social standards.”

Lotte is being criticized because there are gaps between its corporate communication and organizational behavior, particularly its leadership behavior.  This Say-Do Gap is the key problem.

One could conclude that Lott’s statements of corporate vision, values and action guidelines are just meant to be framed and hung on the wall. One might also add that in reality no company takes these things seriously.

But stated values create expectations.  And trust rises when expectations are met; falls when expectations are not met.

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If corporate founders ignore the management policies and detailed action plans that they themselves have created, they will face a situation where it is almost impossible to exercise their leadership because they will lose the trust of those who matter to them.

This is the last piece in the reputation puzzle that Korean conglomerates need to improve. Korean chaebols have been able to show world-class business performance through innovation in their products and services. They also have heavily invested in advertising and promotion and have seen great improvement in their corporate communication.

However, they are rightly criticized for failing to make a meaningful change in their corporate behavior, particularly in their leadership and social behavior.  The founders and chief executives of chaebols create ‘great’ visions and values for their companies, but top management themselves often do not take these visions and values seriously. In today’s world, where it is easy to monitor corporate behavior and where stakeholders have easy access to information, organizational and leadership behaviors that haven’t been detected before now can greatly influence corporate reputation.

As we analyzed the Lotte case, we defined the gap among performance, behavior and communication as the fundamental cause for loss of Lotte’s reputation.

Korean chaebols as a whole often have gaps in their business, not just the gap between behavior and communication, but also between performance and communication and between performance and behavior.

So far, when Korean chaebols have faced a crisis as a result of their mistakes and wrongdoings made public, they have done all the same as if there is a formula for such situation: to issue an apology, hold a press conference, take a bow and make some promises.  But, few companies have kept their promises and now few consumers and citizens believe them.

One of the most important jobs of the public relations departments of large companies in Korea has been to stop scandals involving their founder’s family dynasty from spreading. This year Koreans saw massive protests against the government that have been symbolized as candles. In this circumstance one might wonder if Korean conglomerates will be able to continue to make profit (performance) and manage crises and their reputation in the way they have been doing for a long time. Will that be possible without changing their behavior?

The Last Piece of Puzzle:
Will They Change Their Behavior?

The important question that conglomerates, founder’s families, and executives need to ask themselves is whether they are going to change their behavior.

The challenge that Lotte chairman Shin Dong-bin faces now is not to overcome this crisis but whether he changes the corporation’s behavior. If he doesn’t, the company might face another similar or worse crisis in the future.

What can businesses do to change their behavior? We get some ideas from a behavior-change model in the leadership field, not from the crisis-management field.

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, the world’s leading leadership coach, says that stakeholder engagement is the most important factor in changing corporate behavior. So, for example, if one is to quit smoking, he needs to let his colleagues know about his decision. When around him are engaged they can watch to determine whether he changes his behavior.  As a result, he is more likely to become determined to change. This is part of why many people sign up and go to the gym, or team up with others to exercise. They aim to change their behavior by engaging stakeholders.

In October, Lotte chairman Shin announced reform plans and said that he will establish a watchdog committee that will be directly monitored by him and hire experts from outside. Will this committee be able to lead the conglomerate to change?

To succeed, the committee must be able to act like a red team.

A red team refers to a structure similar to a devil’s advocate — someone who is actually a member of the organization but monitors and points out problems from the opposite point of view in the interest of that organization.

If Lotte has such a committee just for appearance’s sake, the effort is highly likely to fail.

In the beginning of this article, we asked three questions. Now we’d like to explain why such questions matter and what our answers are.
In order for companies to change their behavior, nothing is more important than to figure out exactly how their stakeholders  think of them. In fact, many Koreans have negative perspectives of Korean conglomerates.

If the founders of big corporations or chief executives are to properly manage crises and reputation, they need to understand how those who matter to them view them. When a disaster takes place or when the end of the year is near, chaebols often donate hundreds of millions or even billions of Won (Korean currency) to those in need. They even encourage their employees to perform community services. So big companies often complain that they are unfairly criticized because they actually do many things for communities.

Here’s a question: If chaebols raise their donations by two to three times or perform more community service, will their stakeholders have a better view of them?

We don’t think so, because people’s fundamental ideas of chaebols are negative.  Many take conglomerates’ donations and community service for granted because they believe that chaebols must give some money for the poor at the end of the year because they have done so many bad things all the year round.

What kinds of strategies should conglomerates adopt to effectively manage their reputation and crises? And how should they put the strategies into practice?

In most cases, there are two types of behaviors that chaebols engage in facing a crisis. First, they engage in behaviors that make their negative image worse. Such behaviors include cover-up, lie, evasion of responsibility, denial and even blaming victims — just as recently happened when a daughter of Korean Air Line’s chairman threw a fit, angrily insisting that a plane she was on return to the gate of an airport. These kinds of behaviors reinforce consumers’ negative views of chaebols.

The other type of behavior is the ones that contrast sharply with people’s negative perspectives. For instance, the public  found it surprising when a daughter, not a son, of the founder’s family of a big company had joined the navy as a naval officer. The public knew that the decision was not made to improve the image of the company but still found it pleasantly surprising.

Also, when Korea was hit by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome pandemic (MERS),  Samsung’s Vice Chairman JY Lee conceded his company’s fault and sincerely apologized to the public. This gave the public an opportunity to fix their negative perceptions towards chaebols because most people thought that chaebol owners would deny their responsibility when a crisis takes place.

Of course, if Korean conglomerates are to overcome crises and transform their image, they need to do more than just create a temporary surprising event. Corporate founder’s family must be determined and engage in consistent “surprising behaviors.”

Protesters holding candles are calling for change not just within the government. They are sending a strong signal that there must be a paradigm shift in chaebols’ management of crisis and reputation.

The public is calling for change in corporate behavior. We each have public relations experience and have long worked in crisis management and strategy communication consulting. The conclusion that we want to share with readers is clear: If one approaches crisis and reputation management from the perspective merely of public relations, one is bound to fail.

Food for Thought

      1. What kinds of images do publics have about my company? Apart from the products and services that my company provides, how do publics think of my company? Do they think of it as the one that coexists with, is mutually beneficial with and contributes to society? Or as evil? If the latter, why is that? What are your solutions to fix the image?
      1. It is difficult to improve corporate reputation merely by engaging in some corporate social responsibility efforts and philanthropy or by handing out some corporate leaflets. To get positive reputation, the entire company needs to make an effort to create social value, and this approach should be the center of  profit-making process. The reason why this approach matters is the reason why the CSV (creating shared value) strategy matters. Does my company take CSV seriously? Does it have a team that puts the idea into practice?

 

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Note:

Reputation Management: The Key to Successful Public Relations and Corporate Communication, by John Doorley and Helio Fred Garcia, was originally published in 2007.  It is now in its Third Edition in English.  A Korean translation was published as Reputation Management Strategy in 2016.  A Chinese edition is scheduled to be published in early 2017.  A French language edition is now underway, due to be published in late 2017.

John Doorley is a Visiting Associate Professor at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina, and a Director in Mindful Reputation.  He is a founding academic director of New York University’s MS in Public Relations and Corporate Communication.

Dr. Hoh Kim and Helio Fred Garcia began working together in September, 2015 when Dr. Kim was the moderator and Mr. Garcia was a keynote speaker in the Chosun Issue Forum, a conference on crisis management in Korea sponsored by Chosunilbo, Korea’s leading newspaper.

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Dr. Hoh Kim, left, moderating a panel discussion at Chosun Issue Forum, Seoul, September, 2015

New Resource: Teaching Business and Human Rights Handbook

A common challenge for the growing community of individuals teaching business and human rights (BHR), at universities and within companies alike, is finding the most relevant teaching resources and sharing what works in the classroom.

More than 140 universities have added BHR courses or content to their curricula in the past decade. The multi-disciplinary subject is now being taught at schools of business, law and policy worldwide.

Logos Senior Fellow Anthony Ewing is helping fellow BHR teachers and trainers find resources for teaching the most common business and human rights topics through the recently launched online Teaching Business and Human Rights Handbook. (BHRHandbook.org)

Teaching BHR Member Map.1

More than 140 universities have added BHR courses or content to their curricula in the past decade.

Teaching BHR Member Map.1Anthony contributed a teaching note and has edited the Handbook since its launch earlier this year.

In the Handbook introduction, Ewing notes that:

“Methods for teaching business and human topics are as diverse as the individuals teaching the subject, and the students studying it. Teaching a multidisciplinary subject allows for creative pedagogy. Many business and human rights instructors are experimenting with alternatives to traditional lectures and classroom discussion, such as simulations, role-playing exercises, debates, clinical work and online courses. Instructors are sharing comparative teaching strategies for different students in different geographies. Corporate training is producing even more customized approaches to covering the subject matter for executives, managers and employees.”

The Handbook has published five topics to date. Each “teaching note,” authored by an expert who has taught the subject, provides a brief overview of the topic, describes approaches for teaching business, law and policy students, and identifies relevant teaching resources, such as readings, videos, cases and exercises.

Teach BHR Handbook Logo

Handbook teaching notes include:

Introducing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
by Anthony Ewing (Lecturer, Columbia Law School)

Mandatory Human Rights Reporting
by Erika George (Professor of Law, S.J. Quinney College of Law, The University of Utah)

Human Rights Impact Assessment
by Mark Wielga (Director, Nomogaia)

OECD National Contact Point Complaints
by Elizabeth Umlas (Lecturer, University of Fribourg)

Shared Value and Human Rights
by Björn Fasterling (Professor of Law and Business Ethics, EDHEC Business School)

Handbook notes currently in the pipeline will cover topics including: Corporate Human Rights Policy Commitments, Human Rights Due Diligence, the “Business Case” for Human Rights, and “Big Data” and Human Rights.

The Teaching Business and Human Rights Handbook is a project of the Teaching Business and Human Rights Forum, a platform for collaboration among individuals teaching BHR, which Ewing co-founded in 2011.

For more about his work, please contact Anthony Ewing at: aewing@logosconsulting.net.