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[Reporter`s Opinion] Corporate Ethic is Survival Issue

Posted June. 04, 2001 10:48,   


``It is hard to instruct even the government officials to follow the ethical codes,`` said informally a Chief Executive Officer of the company which is carrying forward the ethical codes and the practical guideline. What he meant by this is that although the ethical level of the workers or the collaborating companies can be raised higher than the other companies, the political and social environment does not allow for the proper practice of the corporate ethics.

As I have collected the data about the corporate ethics, I could confirm that the political and social level of a country determined the ethical level of corporates. The director of corporate ethic of 3M epitomized that the corporate ethic should be emphasized for the successful business. He means that the companies who are stigmatized as an unethical corporate in the market cannot survival in the United States. The stringent ethical codes about the gift of 3M were established on the basis of the strict regulations of the U.S. government. The high ethical level of the society and the government leads the ethical level of corporates.

However, the worldly-recognized ethical companies were not ethical from the beginning. For example, a clothing company had made money by under-age laborers of the Third World in the beginning, but it applied the labor standards to the all overseas subsidiaries as it faced the furious protest of the human rights organizations. And a food company who tried to sell the powdered milk to the developing countries in Africa, through the breast feeding campaign, found out that the underfed children suffered from the malnutrition due to the thin milk.

These companies have in common a way to dodge from the ethical practice, when they faced the limit for growth. Recently, the business sector told that they will practice the corporate ethic in order to elevate the transparency of the corporate, in response to the government`s deregulation measures.

The Korean companies who had lost their trust in the market due to the unethical management, found the hope in `the solution` from the way in which the worldly-renowned ethical companies have operated in the past. However, if the ethical management, that the business sector declared, is but a lip-service for the government`s benefaction, the future of the Korean companies will never be bright.

Park Joong-Hyun sanjuck@donga.com