Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Corporate Justice?


Andrew Witty is the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline one of the drug companies accused by Oxfam a decade ago of "waging war on the poor." Witty makes a bundle of money heading up a drug company that makes a bundle of money. So Andrew Witty is bad, right? Well, not so fast.

Since Witty became CEO, seven years after Oxfam made this statement, he has fulfilled a promise to keep drug prices in poor countries at no more than 25% of what is charged in rich ones. Witty started out as a Glaxo trainee and spent ten years in Africa and Asia observing poverty firsthand. It changed his way of thinking and doing.

It is tempting in the church to yap away at big business, assuming that what corporations do is always destructive. I have been one of those yappers on occasion. We need to remember that businesses are run by human beings, persons who may have a strong moral code and may be guided by a faith in the God of justice.

I think of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who have given away large portions of their personal fortunes to address poverty and poor health in Africa. And Ray Anderson, the head of a multi-national carpet company who has changed practices to be earth-friendly. Anderson is a Christian.

Is it important to pay attention to the good news stories of corporate leaders who have a social conscience? Are you suspicious or encouraged? Are they really all that different from us "reglar folk?"

3 comments:

Laurie said...

I thought I read this yesterday morning, but then it was gone!
I don't think they are much difference then "regular" folk. I think a lot of people in powerful jobs try to do what they can for the good of the planet.

lionlamb said...

Don't worry, your mind is not playing tricks on you Laurie! I pre-posted this blog, then bumped it for the one on Women's Day. You are just an early bird.

lionlamb said...

This response from reader Bill in the form of an email

I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK RATHER CLOSELY WITH THE PRESIDENT OF SMITH KLINE BEFORE IT MERGED TO BECOME SMITH KLINE GALOXI.
OAKVILLE WHEN I WAS WITH THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF UNITED WAY AND AGAIN WHEN I WAS WITH THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
THE PRESIDENT THEN SPOKE LOUD AND CLEAR TO THE COMMUNITY AND THEIR OWN EMPLOYEES THAT THEY SHOULD GET INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY.HE LED BY ACTIONS AS WELL AS WORDS AND IT HAD A VERY POSITIVE EFFECT ON EMPLOYEE MORALE WHICH I ALSO THINK TRANSLATED INTO PRODUCTIVITY AND COMPANY LOYALTY

I ;BELIEVE IT WAS ALL ABOUT CORPORATE CULTURE I AM NOT SAYING THIS IS WHY THEY DID IT BUT IT SURE DID PAY THEM HUGE DIVIDENDS.ONE PHILOSOPHY THAT SEEMED TO PREVAIL WAS THAT YOU COULD NOT GIVE ENOUGH AWAY BECAUSE EVERY THING CAME BUT IN MULTIPLES

THEY WERE A GREAT COMPANY THEN AND IT APPEARS THEY STILL ARE