Corporate stewardship is easy if there is no loser. An order wherein platitudes passed down from the corporate suite are feel-good and foreign officials who control commercially significant markets do not demand some type of action or apology. This is despite a documented history of the regime for human rights abuse and trepidation of free speech.
In corporate environments, CEOs are accountable to employees, shareholders, bottom lines of their companies. In the context of China, if companies find themselves in conflict with the Chinese government, bending knee is mostly a sound business decision. A cavalcade of organizations such as Apple, National Basketball Association, and Activision Blizzard have done this in the past. Their ultimate goal has been to gain access to El Dorado.
Nonetheless, the job of a CEO is not to save the world or to run social and political norms. Rather the job of a CEO is to respond to changing environment in favor of business.
Purpose of Corporation redefined
Meanwhile, in recent years, American multinationals increasingly aspire to be more than just generators of capital and product. Recently, in August, the Business Roundtable consortium, announced plans to redefine the idea of a corporation. The consortium includes includes members heads of Apple and Marriott. The consortium hailed ‘a free-market system’ for a strong and sustainable economy. The engenders best means to generate good jobs, healthy environment, innovation, and economic opportunities for all.
At the consumer end, to favor or boycott a brand depends on its stance on political or social issues. Nonetheless, these open-market proclamations of global stewardship have juxtaposed an apparent corporate inclination to make China happy. This remains even in a scenario of turning blind eye to human rights violations or silencing dissenting options.