Monday, June 11, 2007

British business leaders are now as spineless as American ones

In this morning's edition of Financial Times, I see that Prime Minister Blair is being criticised by British business leaders for voicing his fears over the direction that Russia is taking: Putin is consolidating his control over not only over politics (which is, if one is generous, a mixed blessing) but also over business (which will be an unmitigated disaster for business - and not only in Russia).

"There were few dissenting voices from the denizens of global business attending the forum over the weekend that included the heads of Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, Chevron Corp, Royal Dutch Shell and BP," claimed FT, naming specifically the Hans Jörg Rudloff, the chairman of Barclays Capital, and Peter Hambro, executive chairman of Peter Hambro Mining, as those who are publicly critical of their Prime Minister's comments.

The FT is now one of the few newspapers around the world that has so far maintained its neutrality and objectivity, so one can reasonably assume that the report is accurate. If that is so, then I cry, on Britain's business leaders, "Shame!".

They are imitating the example of some spineless American business leaders who would rather collaborate with the dictatorship in China than encourage and cajole them to aspire to the global standards now expected in politics as well as in business.

Businesses have a moral responsibility to use the power of their investments not only to make money but also to improve matters globally. That is the whole point of their signing up to statements and organisations such as the UN's Global Compact or participating in exalted events such as the World Economic Forum.

If businessmen and businesswomen don't want to entirely discredit such organisations and institutions, the least they can do is to keep quiet rather than openly show that they are prepared to sacrifice liberty, law and principle for the sake of profit.

And if such organisations wish to have any chance of keeping their integrity and reputation, they must denounce such behaviour on the part of the leaders of their member organisations.

So-called leaders who support unfair and unjust regimes or actions will, sooner rather than later in today's world, be found out and fall from their eminent and lucrative positions. Not only that, the businesses they lead will themselves collapse suddenly. Sphere: Related Content

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