In the past year, more cases of corporate malpractice have been uncovered than ever before. While each “uncovering” has caused real scandals in their respective industries, it is clear that today there is greater awareness of these issues, something undoubtedly positive. We must be aware that almost nothing of what was discovered in 2015 was still being done: they were past events.
Chileans opened their eyes to the reality in which the country was living, which has prompted a more alert and aware attitude that not necessarily all public actors act well and within the legal or ethical framework.
Undoubtedly, these cases have affected different market players and industries in general, but there are several lessons to be learned. At the board level, there is now much more open talk about compliance, controls, and good practices. All board members are aware that they are responsible as a whole, and individually, for the decisions taken or not taken in the companies. In the case of the latter, the concept of a company has begun to be understood as more than just a building, but as a set of actions taken by the people who work in it, including its board of directors. In other words, a “firm” is capable of making decisions that also harm the market and directly affect free competition.
Likewise, executives and workers are much more empowered. If before a boss’s instruction was the law, today it is different, since they are much more questioning of decisions. They are no longer willing to pay with their capital for bad decisions, or even to go to jail for committing bad practices that benefit the company in the short term, but which they know will harm them in the long run. Finally, consumers are more attentive, more punitive, and more demanding. It is no longer just a good product that we are looking for, but the behavior and ethics of the company to which I give my purchasing power.
Even so, it is still essential to continue analyzing and studying how to prevent cases of collusion from happening again, and here all stakeholders play a special role, society and, of course, the company itself, establishing adequate controls so that bad practices do not occur.
Por Susana Sierra
Fuente: Diario 21_ Iquique