Multinational companies are values and behaviours schools. It may not be in their mission and vision, in the job descriptions of managers or even in stated corporate responsibility programmes. The latter are biased towards the environment, perhaps for good historical reason.
But no matter how focused on the environment, or even the communities where they are and trade, their primary corporate responsibility, in my view, is towards their employees.
From a values and behaviours perspective, corporate life is a daily experimental situation where all is tested, lived, supported, suppressed. How we treat each other, how women are treated, respect in general, diversity, agency (ability to take charge), greed, generosity, all those are lived and multiplied, then exported to the non-corporate life. Organisational life shapes our behaviours, good or bad. We all work in factories of goodness or nastiness or anything in between.
Now imagine same company, 10 countries, multi-thousand people. The power of spread is immense. Homo Imitans takes charge of the behavioural fabric, whilst Homo Sapiens are busy with business plans.
As per diversity, for example, I don’t know how any corporation can talk about diversity in the narrow view of gender diversity and balance. These don’t make sense in a company with no diversity of opinions, with no space for dissent. That is why gender diversity is often relegated to quotas, box ticked. But this is a conversation another day.
Corporate Responsibility Departments are often self-contained entities, a bit homeless but adopted somewhere: HR, Communications, Public Affairs. They should not be an add-on product but at the core of the overall behavioural conversation, by no means only external.