Two months into Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine, around 200 international companies from all over the world still keep full-scale operations in the aggressor country. One could say it’s the game called “business as usual” corporations play, and there is nothing that ordinary people can do about it. Not true.
As a good employee, you can help the company you work in to save its face by saving the lives of Ukrainians. In the modern world, reputation is of high value and very fragile. For any company working with consumers or other businesses, losing reputation eventually leads to losing market share and profits. Meanwhile, the reputational risks of doing business in Russia, a country that has waged an unjust war on Ukraine and committed horrible war crimes there, are currently enormous.
In the past, a company’s reputation could be improved by following CSR — Corporate Social Responsibility — principles in the country where it operates. But it’s not enough anymore. A company, conscious of its impact on social aspects of society, cannot ignore thousands of people being violently murdered and hundreds of women and children being raped in Ukraine by Russians. A company, conscious of its impact on the health of the economy, cannot ignore the destruction of apartment buildings, hospitals, schools, and other civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, as well as the threat of a global food crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine. A company, conscious of its impact on the environment, cannot ignore the poisoning of Ukraine’s air, land, and water and the constant threat of Chornobyl 2.0 posed by the Russian troops.
It’s time businesses start practicing CPR — Corporate Political Responsibility. Companies should pay attention to the political arena they choose to operate in. If the political arena is represented by an authoritarian regime that keeps waging unprovoked wars in the neighboring countries and commits genocide, a company’s ethical choice should be to withdraw from the aggressor country. This would save a company’s reputation from shame and depreciation.
So, as an employee, by acting in the best interests of humanity, reminding your employing company of the CPR, and asking it to pull out from Russia, you’d act in the best interests of your company.
And if you are not an employee but a customer? Please, join us as well. Your voice is as much important to the company you buy from as its employees’. The brand reputation and image the companies have been building for years is not about what they want you to think but how YOU perceive them. So, show them how you perceive the companies that are stained with the blood of innocent Ukrainian people. The vote of no confidence = no purchase.