To Shine By Social Responsibility
"Social responsibility not only is good for everybody but also helps build images for the business. When the customers favor the company because it has useful contributions for the community, the customer will become friendlier with its brand", said the leader of Dale Carnegie Vietnam in the online discussion with VNR500.
Reporter Nguyen Quang Thieu: In Vietnam, one of many ways to express business ethics is to do charity. How do American companies do charity works? What is the percentage of companies doing charity works?
Mr. Peter Handal: Firstly, it is necessary to give a definition of social responsibility of companies and the methods American companies consider. Social responsibility is very important due to two reasons. Firstly, it helps everybody; clearly it is good for everyone. Secondly, it is useful for the company by creating a good image for the business.
Brand development could be based on responsibility foundation of the company toward the society. (Photograph by Le Anh Dung)
When the customers favor the company because of its good deeds to the community, the customers feel friendlier to its brand. Henceforth, two targets are shot by one arrow: serving the community but also building a healthier brand with more financial gains.
Next, I am not sure about the percentage of companies do charities. I guess it is a significant number, especially for large corporations, charities is a must in their jobs and business models.
I take an example of retailers such as Target, Wallmart; they quantify parts of their sale turnover in each business area for local charity activities. They considered it as a part of their job and it is well advertised so that everybody knows.
For small American businesses, the structure is as follow: if small companies are owned by a family, it is very difficult to recognize who is the one responsible for charities, the business or individual. I know American businesses do one of the best charity works in Western countries and donating properties to charity organizations has become a cultural trait. However, for small businesses, it is not easy to set a boundary between charities by the company and individuals.
For middle-sized businesses, a few do charity, some other not. This is different from the group of large businesses where everyone does charity.
Reporter Nguyen Quang Thieu: Under what forms do they do charity?
Mr. Peter Handal: There are a wide variety of charity forms. Retailers are inclined toward financial donation to charity activities because their business locations are spread through many regions in America; if they have branches in Chicago, they will do charity in Chicago. Or if they are active in Mexico Gulf which affected by the oil spill, they will donate to help clean the beaches affected by the disaster.
Other companies could do charities related to their business. For example, pharmacy companies produces expensive drugs, they could sponsor finance to organizations which support poor people who do not have enough money to buy medicine.
The charity type that receives the highest priority is environment. This is the most popular type and is donated the most. There are a lot of young people participating enthusiastically in environment improvement. Companies contribute to this area because everybody concerns about it.
Another type also attracts lots of sponsorship from the companies is education. In New York, many schools are good and many others not. Corporations give plenty money to develop the human resource in universities to educate good staffs. This type of charity not only helps others but also helps the company.
The last type of charity which is also popular for companies is charity during disaster. For example, the earthquake in Haiti was very destructive, American companies has sponsored million millions dollars to help Haiti earthquake victims. The social responsibility of American businesses is very impressive.
Reporter Nguyen Quang Thieu: A company donates a lot to charity but it also overworks the laborers, destroys the country resources and environment. How should we consider and solve this situation? Are there any similar cases in America?
Mr. Peter Handal: I never thought of a similar case in America. I honestly say that American companies treat their staff very well. We are not a perfect society but there are no such things as overworking the workers, we want to keep and encourage the staffs.
"The human nature is unchanged, so living or doing business are the same, it is simply the relationship between people." said Mr. Peter Handal. (Photograph by Le Anh Dung)
One of Dale Carnegie lessons is to help employees feel attached to the company; and we have global training courses on how to keep the employees. Overworking the workers does not happen in America anymore, it could have happened 50, 100 years ago but not at this moment.
However, in that case, if there is a company doing charity and overworking their workers to distract the public opinion, they want to tell others that: Do not examine me like that; I am doing many good charity works. I think that is completely wrong and absolutely bad. I do not think the companies are allowed to do so.
The solution is to let them continue the charity works but also to make them feel embarrassed and change their own actions.
Reporter Nguyen Quang Thieu: We extremely admire people who did their best to become rich and actually have become rich. However, after becoming millionaires, billionaires, there are businessmen who do not want to do charity but earn more and more, being selfish to the community, becoming wealthy upper classmen who spend money sniffily. In the first developing stage, were there any cases as such?
Mr. Peter Handal: Those types of people still remain in America up to now. When someone has abundance of money and try to show-off by spending money. They are rich people who just want to display their wealth.
Compared to 10, 20 or 30 years ago, there is not much change, some certain individuals still do so because human characteristics like to show-off. However, I do not think this is a big problem for American in the present or the future.
I know quite a lot of people in America who have showing-off spending patterns, they frequently come from businesses with an out-of-imagination salaries such as financial services, investment banking. But spending luxuriously does not mean they overwork their staffs, they simply earn a lot of money.
Dale Carnegie always teaches people a long vision. It is a short term vision if we overwork our staffs while living in big houses and driving luxury cars. Those bosses can only survive a few years but not in a long future. Dale Carnegie always advises people to look ahead and have longer strategies.
Reporter Nguyen Quang Thieu: A question from a reader, there are corporations who behave very well in America but abroad, they pay low wages, exploit resources and destroy the environment where they have the business. What do you think about this?
Mr. Peter Handal: I think there has to be a general standard for behaviors wherever. Businessmen need to comply with business ethics and domestic and foreign laws. It is completely wrong if they behave as said in the question.
This standard is developing in America. Nobody thought of it 20 years ago. They thought obeying law in America was enough, in other countries, it was another regulation. Nowadays, everything has changed, especially in big corporations, they want to gain good reputation in the locations they have branches.
I brought with me during this trip a shirt made in Vietnam. WalMart, one of our big customers, imports a great deal of clothing from all over the world; it has a very close system investigating all factories which produce its clothing to ensure the workers are treated well.
The expense obviously is increased but they want to be sure that their foreign workers also have enough food, good accommodation and working environment. Therefore, WalMart has ensured a fair standard and this corporation is the ideal model to American corporations. They did not do so 20 years ago but now things have changed, these conceptions have developed and populated in American industries.
Reporter Nguyen Quang Thieu: In the next 5 years, what is Dale Carnegie’s ambition in Vietnam?
Mr. Peter Handal: Our target is to concentrate in values to share with the community. Dale Carnegie Vietnam’s ambition is to encourage, construct and thrust forward the culture of How to win friends and influence people in business and living environment in Vietnam.
Human nature is unchanged; hence, living or doing business are the same, it is simply the relationship between people and people. This is what Dale Carnegie working toward for the society, and if it is successful, it is Dale Carnegie’s chance to contribute to Vietnamese education. That is the most beautiful picture.
Translated by Dale Carnegie Vietnam