Friday, March 5, 2004

The need to keep right

The Manila Times
Business Times p.B6
Friday, March 5, 2005

Learning & Innovation
By Moje Ramos-Aquino
The need to keep right

We should have more signs or posters that urge "KEEP RIGHT!" We should make students from nursery to college recite this short sentence every day until they grasp the full meaning of it and actually act on it. Instead of "goodbye," we should bid each other "keep right" as we venture out into the streets.

One time at the Baguio Public Market, a guy in the middle of a whirlpool of people shouted, "Keep Right! The reason we don't move is everybody is going to different directions at the same time. If everybody will just move over to their right and walk on, we could all go faster. Keep right!" Of course nobody listened to him and continued jostling, shoving and aggressing their way forward at one diameter per hour. Imagine what happened as more people arrived at the scene.

Notice how disordered our streets are? People walk about and cross streets anywhere they want. Anywhere there are at least two people they are bound to bump into each other as they walk carelessly in opposite directions. Nobody uses the pedestrian overpass. Pedestrians cross the streets at anytime regardless of the red traffic light. They act like Moses, they just raise their hands and cross without hesitation or fear for life and limb.

Along the expressway, slow moving vehicles stay on the fast left lane all the time and vehicles swerve as if there is a monster running after them. Drivers, without guilt, simply counterflow to run past other vehicles in traffic situations. For as long as they do not see any enforcement officer, motorists continue to defy MMDA's yellow lanes, steel barriers, and other traffic rules.

As entrepreneurs I strongly urge you to make "Keep Right!" be one of your Key Result Areas and set corresponding Strategic Goals governing your Corporate Social Responsibility. The buzzword for "keep right" in business is Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR.

After Enron, Worldcom, Arthur Andersen, and, lately, Parmalat experience, entrepreneurs are becoming more conscious of their corporate social responsibility.

Please look at the accompanying table somewhere on this page. Development Director for Business in the Community Mallen Baker defines CSR as about how companies manage the business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society. Baker says companies need to answer to two aspects of their operations. 1. The quality of their management - both in terms of people and processes (the inner circle). 2. The nature of, and quantity of their impact on society in the various areas.

Baker writes that the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in its publication "Making Good Business Sense" by Lord Holme and Richard Watts, used the following definition. "Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large"

Customers now know how to get back at companies who they think are not dispensing of their corporate social responsibility. Growing expectations from customers and others - concerns about the increasing power of business mean that there is increasing pressure for companies - especially large ones - to behave responsibly.

In their "Winning with Integrity" report Mori Co-operative Bank noted:

"Reputation and Standing

¨ In 1999 a poll of 25,000 citizens across 23 countries on six continents showed that perceptions of companies around the world are more strongly linked with corporate citizenship (56%) than either brand quality (40%) or the perception of the business management (34%).

¨ 81% of consumers agree that when price and quality are equal they are more likely to buy products associated with a good cause.

¨ 73% of people agreed that they would be more loyal to an employer that supports the local community.
¨ A recent poll indicated that 17% of consumers were likely to be influenced by ethical considerations when making purchasing decisions, with another 5% regularly taking account of a business's ethical performance when shopping.

¨ The Co-operative bank has found that more than 90% of its customers approve of its ethical policy and that its market share has increased with the promotion of this policy through cinema, poster and direct mail marketing."

On Risk Management, MORI research conducted in 1998 among British adults found that 17% had boycotted a company's product on ethical grounds, 19% had chosen the product/service because of companies ethical reputation and a further 28% had done both."

There is another aspect to CSR-taking an active role in social, environmental and community concerns-that we will discuss next Friday. Entrepreneurs should understand the value of corporate citizenship as an essential Key Result Area and Strategic Goal.

ASTD 2004 will be held in Washington D.C., USA, this May 23-27. It features 250 speakers and session and a Conference-within-a-Conference that provides intense, focused learning experience in an intimate setting. These conferences gives opportunities for participants to share their interests, and learn from experts in their chosen area of concentration.

This year the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) offers focused conferences on Consultant's Day; Measurement, Evaluation and ROI; Public Sector At its Best; Creative Training Techniques; Financial Services and Developing Connected Leaders.

For assistance, registration and travel package, please call Grace Victoriano at 715-9332.

(Moje Ramos-Aquino, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp., consults on Strategic Thinking and Planning and other strategic management initiatives. Her email address is

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