Monday, April 13, 2020

The Marketing of Ethics

“Social Responsibility, Corporate Governance and Codes of Ethics are topics that are each day becoming more common within the corporate world. But these topics are only becoming common in the speech of the companies. There is a "black box" called corporate corruption and we have very few information about it. The press and the public opinion are very interested when the theme is corruption in the public sphere. This dedication is nonexistent when it comes to private relations. This way, a company can build a responsibility marketing while keeping under the rug possible transgressions.

Because of this, important themes can be transformed into a "marketing slogan". This seems to be what happened regarding your dismissal. It is still a positive thing that the company fired the people involved in the facts gathered by you. But a doubt will remain: how far did the branches of the corruption scheme that you helped identify go?

This is a very hard question to face today in the corporate world: what to do when the internal channels of the company punish the professionals that denounce deviations? Maybe the path is indeed going to Court. In your case, I believe that this clearly constitutes an unfair dismissal that deserves to be taken to Court, seeking judicial redress and indemnity.

Note that this is not just a personal matter. By taking this to Court, besides fighting for your rights, you will publicly expose what the company tried to hide by firing you. The company will be publicly identified as an "Ethics’ Marketing Company". This kind of action is important to serve as an example and to help showing that Ethics cannot be restricted to a speech. But that there are legal and, perhaps, even criminal consequences.

The difficult thing is to asses the impact of such an action on your professional and personal life. The fight can be somewhat idealist, because there is no guarantee that the "black box" of corporate corruption doesn’t make you a vetoed professional in the market. It is a risk. Of course, there are millions of companies that act with responsibility. And we still don’t know what will be the impact of transparency in the corporate world. If cases like yours begin to be taken to Court, it is possible that transparency will also reach all companies more quickly.”

Despite being written in the early 2000's, this article illustrates well my "Ethical Clash" with the Italian oil giant Eni - this year it will complete 19 long years - and it is also the battle of many #whistleblowers around the world against companies that don't respect their Code of Ethics, that has employees and executives who steal from the corporate coffers and against the Boards that pretend nothing happens!

Note: This article was written by Mr. Simon Franco when he was a columnist of the section "Career and You" and published in one of the most important magazine of Brazilian economy and business, as an answer to my message narrating my story with Italian oil giant Eni.

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