“Every man has the right to risk his own life in order to preserve it. Has it ever been said that a man who throws himself out the window to escape from a fire is guilty of suicide?” Jean-Jacques RousseauThe social contract or Principles of Political Right, 1762Three centuries ago, the French author Jean-Jacques Rousseau described the action of committing suicide as a possible way of escaping danger. Today, two of the biggest companies in the world have faced suicide issues, from either employees or customers. Can these companies be, therefore, associated with danger?These modern “capitalist monsters” (Newitz, 2006) control our food (seeds, pesticides, etc.) and means of communication (internet, television, telephone and cellular). They exercise great influence on the government, and they’re so widespread that, in many situations, customers don’t have the option to choose a competitor’s product or service. Investors do not react to their missteps in ethical issues. They have more power than any other company in their industry.They are France Telecom and Monsanto Inc.
France Telecom has faced a turbulent upbringing, migrating from the public to private sector. Facing the new national competition, it had to make restructuring changes to remain competitive. Shortly after, the Internet bubble of 2002 occurred. This led to the idea that a massive reduction of debt, along with the reduction of job duplicates was the key objective of its new strategy, and would lead to increased employee productivity. The result was empowered but overworked and overstressed employees. Internal mobility was promoted, and employees were expected to perform multiple functions outside of their traditional roles. In 2004, another major downsizing occurred. Along with many employees retiring early and job transfers to the public sector, the recruitment of employees froze. The company decided to outsource some of its activities to cheaper countries, particularly in its call centres.The employees themselves weren’t immediately aware about what was going on. Then, when next-desk rivalry appeared, it created internal tension between workers. Some of them were even brutalized with psychological abuses, and all of this led to an increase in the feelings of loneliness when the competition among workers made them “turn themselves on each other”.
While some Media supported France Telecom, calling their employee suicides and coping strategies “The non-existing issue” and “When statistics kill the debate”, most of national medias took an opposite standpoint, creating the idea of “From one suicide to a media storm”.With the media in a frenzy and public outcry reaching a deafening level, the French government was forced to intervene. France Telecom was forced to improve its business practices while following the government (the most influential of its primary stakeholders) requirements. Shortly after, France Telecom created a new social contract between its employees and the company in order to restore confidence, with objectives set on a long-term vision for 2015. Next, the company decided to implement training for managers on psychological social risk prevention (6,000 trained in 2009). In October 2009, more than 2,700 local site meetings were organized with both manager and employee representatives to find the origins of the problem. In the end, they did not find anything more than what had been said by the media.
Monsanto’s Influence:80% of the beef consumed in the US,80% of the farmland acreage through its Roundup corn, 93% of US soy beans
France Telecom and Monsanto
FRANCE TÉLÉCOMAND MONSANTOBUS 400 – Business EthicsBy Célia Junon, Pradit Keomisy, Evan Palmer and Pierre Urier-Cattoire
OUTLINEIntroductionPart I – France TélécomPart II – MonsantoPart III – Case ComparisonConclusion
INTRODUCTION“Every man has the right to risk his own life in order to preserve it.Has it ever been said that a man who throws himself out thewindow to escape from a fire is guilty of suicide?” Jean-Jacques Rousseau The social contract or Principles of Political Right, 1762
PART I – FRANCETÉLÉCOM1. Background information2. Reactions3. Actions and Consequences
A. Background Information 1. MAJOR HISTORICAL FACTS– A PROFIT-MAKING COMPANY 1996: the state-owned monopoly became a private firm Costs/Benefits approach 22 000 layoffs planned to 2002: Internet Bubble increase the productivity by 2008: Financial Crisis 15% between 2004 and 2006
2. CORPORATE GOVERNANCE AND ETHICS 2003: Official Code of Ethics“We believe in the loyalty, integrity, motivation, skills, sense of initiative and accountability of our employees” Ethics Officers Whistle blowing program Group Ethics Committee
3. What led to problems/symptoms • Schizophrenic Government and European Directive • Private Market > Expectations Raised Top • Pressure on Top Managment • Efficiency/Effectiveness • Pressure on Middle ManagmentMiddle • Downsizing/Frozen Recruitment • Not aware of everything, Internal CompetitionEmp • Pressure on the Employees
B. Reactions Management and Investors Corporate Social Responsibility Committee Employees and Costumers • Personal issues • Employees were first to • Statistics against emotion react: • “Faire la part des choses”Wednesday, Sep. 16 2009 • France Telecom Cries (Video) • Anti-boss song The first Government intervention: thats led to this infernal spiral of suicides. priority is to stop the contagion • After new social contract (long term • Enquiry on employee’s - Didier Lombard, CEO of France Telecom feedback vision: 2015) • Training for managers • FT is the biggest firm of a • TV advertisement with employees as actors tripartite oligopoly: switch cost important • No changes in FT quote (no no heavy reaction from visible reaction from investors) costumers
Media Government• “The non-existing issue” • Made the difference • Late intervention with• “When statistics kill the “Fight against stress at debate” work” campaign• “From one suicide to a • Is the first shareholder of media storm” the company: has the most influence Led the national debate
C. Actions and ConsequencesApril 2010 5 suicides in 15 daysNew position CEO
PART II – MONSANTOA. Past and PresentB. In IndiaC. In North-America
A. Background Information• Founding and history• 1980s and GMOs• Present• Reputation
B. Monsanto in India• GM seeds• Heavy promotion• Huge debts• Tough climate conditions cause failing crops• Mass suicides“Villagers gathered in the house of Anil Kondba Shende and looked at his body as the local police investigated his suicide.”
C. Monsanto in North-America• Monsanto’s North-American Reputation• Issues Monsanto Faces• Private Investigators• Many farmers keep quiet about their abuse Monsanto vs Schmeiser The Classic David vs Goliath Struggle
“Imagine that a storm blows across your garden - andthat now, without your knowledge and without yourconsent, foreign and genetically-manipulated seedsare in your vegetable patch which you have nourishedand maintained for many years.A few days later, representatives of a multi-nationalcorporate group pay you a visit at home, demand thatyou surrender your vegetables and file a criminalcomplaint against you requesting a fine a $20,000 USDagainst you - for the illegal use of patented andgenetically-manipulated seeds.”
PART III – CASECOMPARISONA. PowerB. Business CulturesC. Social ConsequencesD. Government Interventioin
A. Power France Telecom Monsanto Oligopoly Monopoly High Impact on the world and their markets Part of the leading image of what is good or wrong Smaller firms follow their lead Stakeholders expect a lot more from them than from other firms
B. Two unique but not so different Corporate Cultures EXACTING CULTURESMONSANTO enlightened egoism FRANCE TELECOM egoism Role of conflict of interest Suicide + Violence = Forms of Expression
C. Dramatic Social Consequences Monsanto France Telecom• Monsanto’s control over • Bad Management farmers • Effects of downsizing• Financial and emotional burdens• Farmer Suicides In India
D. Government Intervention Monsanto France Telecom• Sphere of influence • Owns a 26.97% stake in the company• Little government • Board of directors are intervention French State representatives• Monsanto has a large • Government and union persuaded France sphere of influence in US Telecom to suspend politics employee transfers to lessen the stress on the workers
Monsanto’s “Employees” Prior to being the Supreme Court Judge who put GW Bush in office,Clarence Thomas was Monsantos lawyer. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (Anne Veneman) was on the Board of Directors of Monsantos Calgene Corporation. The Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld) was on the Board of Directors of Monsantos Searle pharmaceuticals. The U.S. Secretary of Health, Tommy Thompson, received $50,000 in donations from Monsanto during his winning campaign for Wisconsins governor. The two congressmen receiving the most donations from Monsanto during the last election were Larry Combest(Chairman of the House Agricultural Committee) and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
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