January 9, 2018

We care — do you? Business and ethics simply need to go hand in hand

Kia Haring

Head of Global Communications, Tieto

The #MeToo movement has had a tremendous impact and has expanded into a global phenomenon of discussions and initiatives to improve human rights. I hope this will continue to contribute towards creating a more equal and value-based society. This development also demands more transparency and a more active role for corporations driving this positive change.

Our hearts have spoken on the #MeToo movement over the recent months, as it has put sexual harassment and abuse at the centre of the discussion. This phenomenon has also impacted corporate agendas in a new way; today, the necessary standard is zero tolerance for any kind of harassment or discrimination.

The need to develop towards more equal, transparent life and business conduct also brings company purpose into the spotlight in a major way. We need to ask ourselves, what kind of values do we cherish? What kind of leadership are we conducting? Which business ethics do we want to pursue? And what do we not tolerate under any circumstances?

For businesses, the time to remain on the sidelines is over. I believe businesses need more initiatives that take a stand and make them active players in this broad conversation.

Last autumn’s discussions have focused on unacceptable behaviour, but also on the language that is used. As a professional communicator, I understand that the way we talk about and present ideas not only reflects our reality but also shapes how that reality is perceived. Therefore, I read with great interest about the initiative of a major Finnish daily to move towards gender neutral language in their journalism. Language can often be value-laden and should therefore be scrutinized.

What we believe in  

At Tieto, we welcome this discussion and recognize the need for companies to be more active in the discussion on achieving a more equal, diverse and inclusive world. Our Code of Conduct makes it very clear that there is zero tolerance for any form of discrimination or harassment. We instruct employees to escalate any misconduct or suspected violations against our business ethics guidelines, and they have the option of doing so anonymously.

With about 14,000 Tieto colleagues around the world — representing different backgrounds, nationalities and cultures — one cannot succeed by trying to control what people do. That is why it is important to have jointly created shared values that are communicated in a clear and easy way for people to identify with and commit to. Diversity is highly needed and valued in our business sector, where diverse problems are solved every day with new innovations based on new technologies. Values and ethics are also a requirement for thriving businesses.

Consider how you are going to contribute 

The questions of ethics, values, transparency and inclusion do not of course just affect how we co-operate with our colleagues, but how we interact with all our various stakeholders. In other words, how we handle these issues stems from our very principles of business conduct. 

The global Earned Brand 2017 study from Edelman highlighted that almost 60 percent of consumers make a purchase decision — or even decide to boycott brands — depending on their stance on socially important topics. In terms of customer engagement, it is important how a company places itself in relation to these important issues. 

It is evident that the #MeToo movement has started some essential progress, but how long will its positive impacts last? Still, one thing is certain: businesses and other organizations need to be more active champions of equality, diversity and inclusion, among other key social topics. 

At the end of day, we must actively participate and take action to driving this change — with our own employees and the ecosystems of partners, customers and other stakeholders. Now is the time for a #WeToo attitude: #WeToo care, #WeToo want to make a difference and #WeToo demand an end to inequality in all forms.

I urge you to take a stand too. How are you going to contribute to this positive change?

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