Even though in Australia companies are embracing ethical and fair corporate governance principles within their charters and seeking to confirm a culture of social responsibility I think the broader community remains highly sceptical. Part of the problem I believe is the lack of an understanding of ethical guiding principles amongst the “top management ranks “. I notice this aspect in many Annual Reports where mention is made of “upholding ethical standards “ without mentioning specifically as to how this is done. On the question of community social responsibility we also find statements of intent rather than of substance, vague notions that lead me to believe “flowery words “ are being used to pay lip service to this important aspect of Corporate reporting.
Maybe what’s also needed is training of Business executives on how to incorporate Corporate Social Responsibilities into their company’s culture. Changing culture takes a long time and is much had harder than most realise. From an educational viewpoint in most business courses, such as MBAs, the idea of ethics and social responsibility is not well covered. Maybe in some countries there are these optional subjects but on the whole those entering the work force haven’t got a particularly good grounding on ethics. Worse still many top executives are very poorly versed and I think that’s the reason for the community scepticism as they lack the clarity of thought to express clearly joint community initiatives. As far as the professional bodies are concerned they are doing a lot of worthwhile work in research and capturing the concerns of their professional members. Click here to view the latest survey by CPA Australia.