Corporate ethics and culture
By Dr Lubinda Haabazoka
This week the Germany Ambassador to Zambia posted a letter they sent to an unknown company indicating that she was returning what she termed an expensive Xmas gift. She also indicated that the money better be sent to some charity organizations! There is nothing wrong the Ambassador did. She just reacted the way they react in their culture. In their culture they don’t give each other anything. It’s not stinginess that’s how their culture is.
Business students stymying in top university are exposed to courses such as business ethics or culture science. In these courses, students are talk how to treat stakeholders from various cultures.
From the corporate governance perspective, shareholder wealth maximisation is important while in Germany it’s stakeholders first then shareholders last. In japan, Korea Mexico it’s the family that owns the business which matters (the keiretsu)!
The Germany ambassador must attend our conferences more often and see what conference takeaways are put in the conference bags. It’s the same flash discs or power banks. That’s our corporate culture. Our corporate culture is one of the most generous. Every year we send each other diaries, calendars, key holders, flash discs etc as presents. These are branded! Meaning it’s also a marketing strategy!
The east are even more generous than us! For example it’s a must to include in the Xmas present wines, whiskeys, vodkas etc!
The Ambassodor is new but am sure she will learn that our Zambian companies support not only our treasury in form of taxes, but also a lot of corporate social responsibility! Most of the church functions, orphanages, school events, concerts and even government events are funded by Zambian companies under corporate social responsibility!
It’s very unfortunate that the CEO of this unannounced company is feeling bad obviously about the whole issue but this is a case of cultural differences.
Against this backdrop, if you are invited to a birthday party by a Chinese or Russian family, do not eat before the event. There will be so much food and refusing to eat is a sign of rudeness! But if invited by the others, my friend eat in advance otherwise you will get drunk on an empty stomach!