Thursday, October 18, 2012

Anglo American Ethics

This is the first time I have ever heard of Anglo American.  That may be a good thing.  Usually when I tune into the news or go over the evening headlines in the newspaper, the companies mentioned are involved in some type of scandal or other misfortune.  Anglo American may have avoided the attention by creating and adhering to its well-thought corporate principles.  
The first thing I noticed about Anglo American is its commitment to the law, both nationally within the countries it operates and internationally with the United Nations.  The case study says that they have played an active role in forming ethical codes and regulations.  The key word was active.  Their role is not passive.  They are working and taking responsibility to craft a better tomorrow for their shareholders, stakeholders, and even communities they do not know through environmental sustainability programs.   
The Socio-Economic Assessment Toolbox (SEAT) process shows that the company is putting forth a huge effort to behave ethically.  Through SEAT they engage with the community where they operate and respond to their needs as well as gauge their approval of company activities (i.e. relocation proposals).  Another process that I believe shows a serious effort on the part of Anglo American is its commitment to the health of its employees.  Most companies stop at providing medical insurance but Anglo American takes it a step further by providing AIDs education and free anti-retroviral drugs, both of which are desperately in need as they operate in a part of the world where AIDs is rampant in many communities.  They understand that the health of their employees is directly correlated to their health as a company, morals and monetarily.   
According to the textbook being ethical is more than practicing good corporate social responsibility and corporate citizenship.  There can be serious financial benefits or repercussions to unethical behavior.  The fines or sanctions against a corporation can financially ruin a company and further damage their brand or reputation.  Finances are the least of your trouble once the name goes down the drain.  Rebuilding a reputation or brand can be an insurmountable challenge.  All of which could have been avoided by careful ethical decisions and practices.  In the case of Anglo American I believe that their commitment to the employees health and well being as well as their communities and upstanding relationships with national governments and transnational organizations have firmly established them as a trustworthy brand and secured their positive reputation for the time being.  For these reasons the brand should succeed in its sector.
From what I have read, the company appears to have adequately considered ethics in its business plan.  They are not only distinguishing right from wrong but taking that extra step and choosing to do right.  Their goals are not solely based on profit margins which distinguishes them from other companies in the primary sector of the world economy.  Anglo American is taking the initiative to not only follow established guidelines and regulations for ethical business practices, but to also actively search for better and more effective policies and processes to ensure ethical behavior and create more levels of accountability. 

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