Companies are a part of society, not apart: Former South African Supreme Court judge

Sunday, 5 January 2014 - 1:12pm IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA
Former South African Supreme Court judge advices corporates to be socially responsible.

“Companies are a part of society, not apart from society. So be socially responsible,” is what a former South Africa Supreme Court judge told a gathering of corporates in Bangalore.

Addressing corporates during the Global Ethics Forum at IIM-B, Mervyn King stressed on the aspect that good corporate citizenship is as important as good bottom line.

“Companies should not look just at their shareholders and their interests. But adopt an inclusive approach by taking into account the interest of all their stakeholders, including people, society, environment,” said King, who is also the chairman of a South African committee on corporate governance, called the King Committee.

Explaining that since there is a depletion of natural resources, coupled with an explosion in the population and climate change, corporates need to consider the impact their actions have on society, human life and the environment.

“Adopt integrated thinking. It is the acceptance that as a company, you use natural resources,” said King.

The judge cited examples of global corporations like Coca Cola and Unilever that have taken a prudent approach regarding the environment and natural resources.

“Coca Cola realised that water is the scarcest commodity on earth, and started a plan to reduce, replenish and recycle water, while Unilever re-engineers its products using 50% less water and energy. Other corporations like Microsoft and HSBC are also doing similar things,” said King, asking both big and small enterprises to acknowledge resources used and better engage with all stakeholders.

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