Thursday, July 28, 2011

Multi-National Companies - a force for ethics?

This post has been percolating ever since our last round of ethics training started at work.  Our training cycles seems to have accelerated and widened in the past few years. It's gone from an annual lecture to mostly management on not to give/take bribed to biannual training that is attended by everyone. While we still  get told that bribery isn't acceptable there are more subtle examples of things we can't do. Happily training has gotten much better. In the last round we had to watch well produced videos in the style of "the Office". All employees got to see that there alternatives to cringe worthy management style and recourse.

I first realized  the effect of multinationals when we got a share holders vote card in the main about hiring policies. Should hiring be discriminatory, in Ireland, based on religion. Of course not we voted from our secularized home country. We did talk about inflicting our values on a  society bogged down in a religious fight but felt discrimination should not be institutionalized. Bad us, interested enough to vote yet not interested enough to follow up.

This becomes more important now because the loud voices out of the US seems to eschew any type of generosity between out groups. While there's a ton of noise about abortion in the US and not funding it, in Canada abortion is just another medical procedure and cannot be de-funded.  What if a Canadian, with corporate insurance, suffers a miscarriage while on holidays to the US? While the US struggles with sexual equality, Corporate benefits extend to same sex relationships in Canada, after all everyone has the right to get married here. If you move an employee from the US to Canada, what happens to benefits when they move back home. The Multi I work for puts Canada in the US domestic bucket. Does this mean that USians get the same coverage as Canadians? How does this jive with intolerant State law?

Last year I went to HR with a comment about Christmas boxes. Not because I'm against Christmas or gifting children but because enough people had mentioned to me that they felt there were alternative SECULAR organizations that wouldn't proselytize under the cover of being interfaith. I wasn't happy with local management response (that's not religious) so I sent it up the ladder. Shortly after, acceptable charitable organizations were clarified again to be mostly donation matching to the Red Cross.