SDGs and corporate ethics in Pakistan
Ethics are taught not only in homes, schools, and gatherings but it has also been done outside these environments too. And this goes beyond and far for all and the corporations are among them. These corporations, whether small or large, work enthusiastically to earn and earn but nothing else. And according to Henry Ford “a business which makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business”.
However, business ethics requires that corporations have to go ethical to the people working for them, to the communities where they operate, and all those who can be affected by their objectives, mission, vision, & plans, and lastly the planet as whole. Corporations’ social role is to be protector rather than a destructor.
To make corporations accountable in all ways, institutions work and make them accountable. We have Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) which regulates and keeps eye on the corporations’ activities. Corporate abuses continue even after some government measures have taken place but the question can be marked on its layered implementation.
To my immediate concern and as per my field research in SITE Hyderabad and Kotri, a large number of factories in SITE Hyderabad and SITE Kotri have appeared neglecting practicing corporate ethics. It is found that majority of factories in SITE Hyderabad and SITE Kotri do not know basics of corporate ethics particularly workers’ rights. The picture of factories’ unethical business practices shows that majority of workers do not know about their basic rights to be enjoyed through the factories. Most of the workers do not receive any professional training by their factories, while few of workers enjoy bonus, reward, and promotion.
It is equally shocking to know that large number of workers has never been approached by department concerned or any other regulatory body for checking the status of corporate unethical practices. The reasons can be coined and perhaps that may not be liked by many.
It is in the requirement to the operations of the corporations to practice corporate ethics and through doing this they provide incentives to their workers and their families, develop local area in many ways through building schools, establishing parks for the communities, and open ways of edutainment for the children who live where they operate. Overall it is corporate social responsibility to evaluate the impact its actions on the society, people, and the planet. It has to investigate whether its actions comply with development of consumers or it contributes to their overall depreciation.
It has been observed and can further be evaluated that Pakistan’s legal code is largely concerned with crime, national security and domestic peacefulness, and it has been less worried about protection of individual rights particularly workers who come under the unethical and irresponsible behavior of corporations working devotedly to find ways for increasing and doubling profit but not lay some measures for development and sustainability of society.
The ethical responsibility does not lie only on the national corporate setups but those who are outsourcing corporations of our country must also check the reliability and credibility of the contracted corporations. If it does not happen, it can be coined that they equally responsible for devastating the overall environment.
If it would have done earlier then a fire could not be caught killing 250 workers producing jeans for a German discount chain. Whereas the United Nations (UN) often found endorsing the countries ensure that corporations domiciled in their region respect human rights all the way through their extraterritorial actions. Furthermore, the UN and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recommended that parent and subcontracting firms conduct human rights due attentiveness.
Ethical practices adopted and successfully implemented by corporations cultivate fruits which could be threshed out with the inclusion of tangible and non-tangible benefits. If corporations do feel its responsibility to people, community, society and planet then what it could bring and will be bringing within the society, one can easily assume.
However, even if most of the corporations in the country follow only United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) guidelines as a framework then these corporations would certainly grow to the satisfactorily level in the eyes of consumers and workers within the corporate setup.
Consumers, investors, employees, and other stakeholders likely or unlikely incline to mistrust those organizations that do not keep workers to the great ethical values. And on the other hand, corporations that give their workers fineness and signify their faithful customer base, perform as good corporate citizens, and admiring the environment would discover that their businesses is completely impacted by these ethical practices. As a result, these corporations will have a greater chance at attaining permanency and productivity in the society through practicing corporate ethics.
Better for the corporations would be the alignment of UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals into business operations which guarantees mode of upgradation in uplift global approach. This would help impact parallel the corporation as well as the UN to achieve the SDGs globally with help ethical corporations.
About writer: Furqan Hyder Shaikh is a development professional. He can be reached at @furqanppolicy