An Apple a day……
Let me start this month’s Bullog by saying how deeply sorry I am for the people of Ukraine who are having to endure unimaginable pain and suffering during this very worrying period. Indeed, my heart goes out to all those affected by this unprovoked invasion. Also, the people of Russia who will suffer greatly from sanctions, not to mention numerous young soldiers who will lose their lives on the basis of mis-information and the mis-guided ambitions of an autocratic regime.
No, The Bullog is not ostensibly political and is much more about the role of business in society. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate the two and perhaps we should stop pretending that we can.
There was probably a time when business could stand on the side-lines and play the “nothing to do with us” card. But no longer. “We make widgets for profit, employ people, work within the law and pay tax – leave us alone,” may have rung true when businesses were not the global interconnected behemoths that they are today. Indeed, if multinational corporations were countries, then no fewer than five of the Fortune 500 would make it into the G20 based on the size of their “economies” (or market capitalisation to use the business jargon term). Power must come with responsibility. So what has global business done in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
The answer is actually quite a lot. Apple is probably the highest profile and most public company to take a strong stand by stopping all sales of its products within the Russian Federation. This was apparently a direct response to an open letter sent by the Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister on Twitter. But there are a string of other companies who are taking very public stands, including the likes of H&M, Jaguar Land Rover, Burberry, Microsoft, Mastercard, Visa and oil majors like BP and Shell who are divesting all their stakes in Russian companies. I applaud these moves, recognising that this could mean multi-billion-dollar write-offs and see this collective response from business as grounds for optimism will forgo profit for a greater cause.
Other corporates are being criticised for not doing enough. McKinsey and Co, the strategy consulting giant are finding that when you pride yourself on employing the brightest and best minds on the planet, you shouldn’t be surprised when these minds have a point of view on the geopolitical situation and expect the company to listen to it. The company initially announced that it will no longer consult to government owned entities but stopped short of closing offices, leading to criticism from both inside and outside the company. This forced a change of heart and the company has now pulled out of the country.
Employee intrapreneurship, activism and advocacy are regular themes of The Bullog and are part of what I see as an increasing “democratisation” of the multinational corporation. I’d like to think that the current Ukrainian crisis could provide fertile ground for internal activism in corporations.
We’ve seen a huge outpouring of support across the world ranging from offers of accommodation, transport, clothes, you name it. It’s heart-warming to see the humanity that is being offered to complete strangers, including from many in the Russian diaspora who are appalled at what is being done by the political leadership in their country. Please, continue to take these actions as they’re making a bid difference. But to the employees of multinationals with operations in Russian, I put it to you that you have the power and agency to do so much more to positively affect the outcome of this crisis.
I spent 20 years of my career in Accenture which now employs a staggering 674,000 people around the globe. I’ve no idea how many of these employees are Ukrainian (or indeed Russian), but I bet it’s more than a few and I wonder what they’re doing to make their voices heard internally and shape the stance the company will take on the crisis? Indeed, I’d ask the same question of all employees, whether Ukrainian or not, working in all multinationals with direct or indirect operations in Russia.
To the leadership of these corporations I’d say, “Don’t wait to be pushed into action by a tweet from a Prime Minister or lobbying from your activist employees – be on the front foot by taking swift now.” A short term economic hit may be a price worth paying for being one of the most admired corporations in the world in the longer term.
An Apple a day may not keep the Russians away, but the more corporations who line up to take a strong moral stance in line with their stated values on a daily basis, the greater the likelihood of this conflict coming to an end
The Craigberoch Business Decelerator is hiring!
As a business, we may be all about the power of slowing down, but we’re also growing up. Indeed, we have big plans to scale the business up over the next few years through both physical and virtual events and we need to grow our Core Team accordingly.
There are two roles we’re currently hiring for:
- Communications Manager (40% FTE)
Responsible for internal and external communications and implementing our communications strategy
- Business Development Manager (40% FTE)
Supporting the outreach to corporate and non-profit clients
We’re a very virtual team and are open to these roles being filled by someone working pretty much anywhere. If you are interested or simply want more information on terms and conditions, please get in touch using this link. Please also pass this information on to people within your network who you think might be interested or qualified.
Best of the rest……
The past month saw me do a number of virtual talks including a TED style talk on intrapreneurship to a consulting client and the return of my bi-annual workshops with the Society for International Learning (SIT) students in Nyon. The latter was an opportunity to give my first in-person talk since the beginning of the pandemic and I must admit, it’s more rewarding to see real live faces than simply staring at a zoom screen.
However the biggest talk this month was a virtual Keynote I gave to the Scottish Business Schools Employability Conference 2022. Having been invited to give a similar talk in person just before lockdown in February 2020, I was invited back by the Glasgow, Edinburgh and Strathclyde Business Schools to give a virtual version this time. I was embarrassed to admit that it had been 30 years exactly since I’d sat exactly where these students were sitting when I did my MBA in 1992. How time flies!
On the personal front…….
One of the highlights of last month was taking a few days to hike in Switzerland with my friend Jakub and of course, Penny the Dog. The Swiss scenery is really looking at its best as spring approaches with the stunning snow-capped mountains on the horizon.
I also hosted my sister Lobby, brother in law Pascal and several other friends for a ski week in the Portes Du Soleil. Great sunny weather and good snow made it one to remember and led to the smiling faces you see in the picture below.
OK, that’s more than enough for now folks. If you enjoy this monthly ramble then do feel free to suggest others sign up here. Until next month,
* The Bullog = Bulloch + Blog
Make sense? Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks. If it’s not for you then feel free to unsubscribe below.