Why do corporations often underperform in the ethics arena?

04 Sep

Issue #1

The WA government has made a less than magnanimous offer to its Indigenous people.

Between 1905 and 1972, the WA government withheld up to three-quarters of the wages earned by workers on state-run Native Welfare Settlements. The monies were put into government trust accounts with the promise that they would later be rightfully dispersed.  Link

The money was never paid.

An indigenous stockmen

An indigenous stockmen –  from ABC news

With records ‘lost’ The WA government has offered $2 000 to each worker as compensation for unpaid wages.

Why is it that WA bureaucrats, in this era of clear thinking around racism, would attempt to minimise decades of racism? Why is it deemed acceptable that decades of lost wages are to be cancelled with a single payment of $2 000?

Issue #2

Grunenthal, the maker of Thalidomide, has apologised to mothers who took the drug during the 1950s and 1960s and to their children who suffered congenital birth defects as a result.

Why is it that a company waits 50+ years to apologise?  Even now it denies legal responsibility. Was it not the company’s responsibility before this? Was it no-one’s ethical issue?  What is happening when a company turns away from taking responsibility?  Aren’t companies run by ordinary citizens, who are upright members of school councils, churches and sports clubs?  What is happening with the culture of a company when presumably ethical individuals are subsumed by the less than ethical nature of their company?   Few people would say that money is more important than people, but that’s what their corporations say all the time.   Link
Issue #3
The LCA has debated women’s ordination for decades, with the Church’s commission on theology determining that there are no theological problems with its inception. General Convention has twice voted with a majority for women’s ordination. The will of the Church is clear, but the lack of action ensures deepening division.  All this while the LCA suffers from a lack of clergy to fill parishes (it’s the same in the Catholic Church – Irish Catholic situation).
How is it that corporate LCA continues to block women’s ordination when general Church consensus and theology has no problem with it? The LCA hierarchy seems to have a notion that the LCA body isn’t ready for women’s ordination.  It gives voice to conservatives and mutes the voice of reason behind women’s ordination. “Let there be no debate.  Let the voice of protest be silenced.”  Like a ‘stern father’ the hierarchy holds that it knows best and there is no budging.  Like the stern father with adolescent children it is unable to adjust restrictions and fails to enter into respectful conversations with family members who are unhappy with current circumstances.
The WA government stands accused of being self-interested and callous. Its response is at best inadequate and, more realistically, out of touch with standards of compassion and ethics. Grunenthal, after years of denying responsibility, stands accused of a disingenuous apology. It is not surprising that the apology has been rejected by suffering families.  LCA hierarchy stands accused of being disingenuous in the way it has sidelined the CTICR after its years of study on women’s ordination.  LCA hierarchy stands accused of idolising Church unity at the cost of women and deepening Church division.  While we understand that District Presidents are mostly supportive of women’s ordination, why is it that we don’t hear their voice? While individuals may be upright moral Church members, they have remained silent to the LCA’s less than ethical response to women, to the voice of the General Convention, to the deliberations of CTICR.  Presumably it’s because they fear that their voice will not be heard.  It is time to speak up!  The silence of the well-intended is given little respect in history.
By resisting change the LCA no longer reflects the reformers’ drive to be true to the Gospel.  By resisting change the LCA is now in a position contrary to the radical Gospel through which Jesus introduced grace for all – slaves, rulers, robbers, lepers and even women.  Without women’s ordination the LCA is also unable to witness to issues of justice, but there’s nothing new there.  Did you notice that the LCA was not amongst the churches mentioned in the news this last week calling for a more humane approach to asylum seekers?  There are times it feels shameful to be a member of the LCA.
Perhaps, an epitaph on certain tombstones might one day read,
I, alone, held the Church together by not ordaining women. Strangely, I rent the Church in two.
One day, under wiser and more tolerant leadership there will be an apology from the LCA for the way it has treated women.

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