[EDITORIALS]Cringing at charitable giftsHyundai Motor and its affiliate Glovis have promised to donate 1 trillion won ($1 billion) to charity. In addition, Lone Star’s chairman, John Grayken, announced that the fund would donate 100 billion won to charity. Before these two, Newbridge Capital which sold First Bank Korea donated 20 billion won and Samsung Group donated 800 billion won. Although we welcome these acts, it’s hard to shake off the uneasy feeling we have about it. We honestly wonder if this is the right thing for them to do. This is not just how we feel, but how many people feel to suddenly see this overflow of donations.
If the companies make lots of profits and donate money voluntarily, the gestures would be thought as beautiful and praised. However, these promises of donations were all made at while the companies were under investigation or after social criticism had driven them into the corner. Of course people wonder if the donations were made merely to turn public opinion against the prosecutors and avoid punishment. We should also be aware that it is becoming almost a standard practice for any corporation under investigation to make a charitable donation. The business world shaking at the Blue House’s remark in support of the donations is a frightening thing to see.
Promising to make a donation cannot be a form of indulgence guaranteeing a legal or moral pardon. It is a promise they can make after they take all legal responsibility for their unjust and unwise acts.
This might seem cold-hearted to the companies who are having a hard time, but companies must take responsibility in order to survive. If legal procedures are not respected, companies cannot but succumb to naked power. This kind of donation does not contribute to the sound development of capitalism. Therefore, this kind of donation should just be a transitional practice as we grow into an advanced society. Above all, it is important that companies abide by the law.
The days of “insuring” one’s business by bribing politicians are over. People no longer tolerate the tricky and expediential way that the ownerships of big companies have been transferred. The companies should keep in mind that they cannot survive with this kind of management anymore. Doesn’t the aggregate cost of violating business ethics now surpass 1 trillion won?
Transparent and ethical management are no longer about simply doing the right thing ― they’re about simple survival. Companies cannot succeed with skeletons in their closets.