Ethics focused outside companies

By Cesar Ferreira, Brazil

Chief compliance officer – Hinode Group


Today Companies face, in addition to a more competitive and globalized environment, the benefit and concern of easy access to innumerable information by people, through social networks, magazines, and digital newspapers – and that makes the disclosure of facts, which would have been commonplace, be discussed by millions of people.

Companies are concerned to demonstrate

that they have an Ethical and Social responsibility culture

which has made a New outline and a point of attention for all companies.

Before, the executives ‘ concern was how they could bring practices to society that would improve the users’ experience and thus create a competitive advantage for the entire purchase of products and services to be purchased. Having a social and environmental concern was suitable for companies and, with that, creating the user experience and interaction with a specific product or service.

But now, Companies know that all human behavior and decisions are concerned with people’s perceptions and more than with the facts themselves. So, it was convenient to create environments to understand the entire journey of consumption, the “Design of experiences.”

However, some companies have forgotten that every experience must focus on external and internal people and not in the product itself. At this point, we enter a very critical situation in dealing with human beings by companies – the construction of staff of employees who build the company’s Ethical Culture and vice versa.

The “walk the talk” coming from the Aristotle school comes here as an essential point of analysis.

The Compliance and Ethics areas of companies,

as guardians of the integrity of their companies,

must be aware of those situations that contradicts

an ethical discourse and can  put the entire user experience

and the company’s image at risk with the general public.

Recently in Brazil, there have been situations that have had repercussions in the media, and that has involved two large companies that have negatively affected their image. The biggest problem is that the cases not directly linked to the company, but only because people are employees of the same.

In one case, the company AVON multinational cosmetics company.

Fired one of its executives, after reported in a widely circulated newspaper that the executive had indicted for keeping a 61-year-old woman in a condition similar to slavery.Neighbors rescued the older woman after knowing about what happened and reported the police authorities. The executive held the position of marketing manager for the company.

In another case, the company TAESA, one of the largest Brazilian electric power transmissions companies.

Fired one of its employees who disrespected an authority that supervised the use of masks and social distance due to COVID-19. The employee said she was an Engineer and that she was better than the inspector who approached her requesting that she follow the safety rules.


Both two cases occurred outside the company’s environment

and in actions that did not directly involve

these people’s activities  in the exercise of their functions.

Even with unethical behavior outside the company’s environment, companies had their images shaken negatively.

In both situations employees worked in large multinational companies in which Compliance programs and exhaustive code of ethics training carried out and the employees occupied executive positions in the companies and should be leaders of several people.


Both companies had to go public and communicate the dismissals to mitigate

the negative image that caused the disclosure in major Brazilian newspapers and social media.

Therefore, the C levels and the Compliance and HR areas lead to thinking about a paradigm shift in education and hiring their workforce. These sectors have to move away from a mostly internal approach to employee behavior and review the pillars of their recruitment, training, and awareness programs.

Few companies have clear rules on the behavior expected of their employees in social networks and their daily lives. Even those who have rules most of the time do not specify their employees’ everyday actions in society.


However, question remains that should companies do that?

Or would it be up to people to define and have freedom of expression outside the business environment?

The answers to these questions would lead to the development of another article and case studies to discuss individual freedoms. Regardless of the degree of personal liberty, companies will continue to be held accountable by the general public and affected in their strategies to create a user experience if they do not observe internal factors in these strategies.

The argument raised, which should be one of the significant points to be discussed by company executives, is how to extend the issue of ethics and social responsibility to build society’s perceptions about the company and not ignore the importance of its internal public? Avoiding the loss of the company’s image in all aspects.

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