“Good Enough” Is Not Good Enough: Shift the World, People, and Business
Over the past several decades, we have seen news about non-transparency and frauds emerging from large corporations worldwide particularly in automotive and finance industries, leading to repeated economic crises. As a result, there was a call for “business ethics” in the West, which later triggered the “Conscious Business” trends that raise awareness of the impact businesses have on the society.
According to several surveys, consumers’ definition of “good company” often refer to only companies that offer “good quality” and “cheap” products and services. Consumers tend to overlook corporate governance and fair competition, including bribery and corruption within the company and external parties, as they do not feel that ethical business conduct is any of their business or relates to a company’s products and services.
However, all the elements mentioned above are inevitably related.
Mr. Lars Norling, Chief Executive Officer, Total Access Communication PLC or dtac illustrated the relationships of both sides through consumer myths or misconceptions at the “Shift Happens: Shift Business to Catch Up with Tomorrow”.
1. Fair Competition Just Happens
There is a misconception that fair competition just happens naturally and monopoly does not hurt the economy. Fair competition directly benefits customers. For example, the promotion of fair and free competition in the airline industry results in a 50% price drop for Bangkok-Chiang Mai flight ticket, which costs only 2,000 Baht per trip today, compared to around 4,500 Baht in 2003.
On the other hand, without fair competition in the market, a company does not have the needs to improve its products and services, yet it can continue to charge the same or even higher price. That means customers support bribery and corruption without knowing it.
2. Good Companies Plant Trees
Most people may think of corporate social responsibility as only social activities, such as tree planting and dam building. These types of activities raise a question whether CSR is purely a marketing gimmick or creates sustainable benefits for the community.
Creating a sustainable society requires business as a key foundation and mechanism of the society. For example, every year, there are hundreds of accidents during the installation of mobile base stations, and most of the accidents occur with staff of subcontractors.
As a responsible service provider and respected stakeholder for its employees, suppliers, partners, customers, and investors, dtac has rolled out the Zero Accident policy, aiming to reduce the number of work accidents to zero under the supervision of the partner management or “Supply Chain Sustainability” team.
Moreover, dtac has pledged to fight all types of corruption under the “Zero Tolerance to Corruption” policy, which defines guidelines and strict business practices, such as no gift policy (prohibiting employees to accept gifts from external parties with no exceptions) or no golf rules (prohibiting executives to play with and/or pay green fees for stakeholders).
“This policy may leave dtac in a competitive disadvantage, but at the same time it is a reflection of our value, which is to do the right thing,” Lars emphasized.
3. Change Can Only Come from the Top
It is a myth that only the government or people with power can make changes that lead to a better society. In fact, changes can be made by ordinary people, especially by the power of consumers.
Lars emphasized that the voice of consumers is ‘extremely powerful’ in today’s business world. Once consumers are aware of their own power and team up to challenge businesses and demand for fair competition, it would lead to improved quality, lower prices, and good corporate governance and ethical standards. Consumers will ultimately be the winners.