The 7th annual Global Ethics Summit hosted by Ethisphere and Thomson Reuters brought together ethics and compliance experts from all over the country to talk about the state of ethics in corporate America. Center stage was a panel discussion including representatives from PepsiCo and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance sharing their thoughts on the expanding role of corporate culture.
One of my favorite quotes came from PepsiCo CEO Indra Noovi who is taking the company beyond traditional CSR toward a more powerful concept of values-based change. During the discussion she said that "corporate social responsibility is how corporations can spend the money they make, but what she's trying to do is change the way we make the money we spend."
We have all become suspicious of corporations whose definition of CSR is simply writing a check to some deserving cause. I'm not arguing that writing checks to deserving causes is wrong, I am suggesting that the tougher job is creating a corporate culture that operates from the value of conviction vs. compliance.
Mark Roellig, VIce President and General Council at Mass Mutual stated that while following the law is integral to ethics and compliance it doesn't give a company great culture and values. "You've really got to move beyond just saying, Yes, legally we can do this, You've got to step back and say, that's the right thing to do." A company can follow the letter of the law and still fail to act with integrity.
Is your company simply following the letter of the law? Does is act out of expediency or are the decisions made those that follow the path of doing what's right regardless of consequences? More and more companies are being called on to tackle issues that transcend the bottom line. In many instances they have the privilege of peering outside their own corporate confines to positively impact the communities they serve. I couldn't agree more with Indra Noovi. It is time that we change the way we make the money we spend. Set your sites past financial gain. Go beyond what's simply required. Watch employee engagement soar. Sleep well knowing that there is purpose beyond profit. Experience the life-affirming rush of the people your company serves as they repay your concern with their loyalty and trust.