consequences commensurate with unacceptable corporate behaviors that don’t fall primarily onemployees, stockholders, suppliers, or customers. It is as if your neighbors, friends and familywere forced to pay the penalty if you ever committed a crime. You could go scott free.The myopic strategy of profit-above-all-else sounds good in business school but has wreckedhavoc on society. It should be clear to any sensible person that a paper entity like a corporation isnot the same as a living biological organism. True, corporations are run by biological organisms, but so are automobiles and nobody thinks a Ford Focus should have the right to free speech. Butcorporations do have rights, and unless that were to change, they should also be expected tofulfill responsibilities to society and the entities they deal with. There needs to be a new paradigm guiding American businesses.Businesses should be held accountable for
dimensions of performance:
— dividends, stock price, other financial indicators, etc.
— improvements, defects and recalls in products made or services provided,ISO9000, etc.
— salary, benefits, training, working conditions, EEO, OSHA, difference between staff and executive compensation, etc.
— customer-business interactions, customer satisfaction and loyalty,complaints, etc.
— environmental compliance, charitable works, layoffs and outsourcing, unfair competition, relationships with suppliers, etc.The idea would be to use available data compiled by businesses and the government agenciesthat already monitor them to assess the performance of US companies. There would be no newhuge bureaucracies to create and monitor SPECS. The system would be created largely from theconsensus of the business community, academia, and the public with only the facilitation of government. The same huge bureaucracies that already monitor and regulate business wouldmonitor SPECS implementation. More importantly, the public would easily be able to identifywhich companies are good to work for and which products come from responsible Americancompanies. Businesses that follow SPECS and benefit the growth and well being of the countrywould be rewarded with tax breaks and other preferences.SPECS would be developed and implemented in phases.Phase 1 — Planning – 5 yearsBegin the planning process by setting up a small office in the Executive Branch of the Federalgovernment to initiate a national dialogue on what elements should be included in SPECS. Therole of the office would be to facilitate and focus discussions and publicize results, but not swayopinions. Begin the discussions in business schools and expand to unions, trade associations, andother interest groups. As the dialogue grows, add needed specialists to the office to plan andfacilitate events and assist in conflict resolution. Hold regional and national conferences to focusdiscussions and include the public. Create an independent ad hoc multi-agency advisory group toadd the perspective of Federal government agencies. Invite states to create advisory groups of their own or participate in compacts. Move the discussion on to how the important business