In recent years, issues related to ethics in the corporate world have been increasingly debated with the aim of directing conduct and improving coexistence in the market.
The Brazilian Institute of Ethics in Competition - ETCO, has been defending this cause for twenty years, proposing initiatives and amplifying debates, demonstrating that respect for ethics and the law are factors that encourage development, providing legal security, a fundamental factor for attracting investments and generation of jobs and income.
This pioneering vision, in the last decade, was strengthened by the action of the UN in defining the so-called Social Development Goals, the SDGs, which should guide actions to achieve results by the year 2030. This agenda stimulated the adoption of ESG metrics in the corporate world, guiding the achievement of goals aimed at the effective respect for the environment, social relations and best governance practices.
These positions are directly related to combating misconduct and defending compliance with the law, strengthening actions: sustainability, reverse logistics, pollution reduction, generation of carbon credits, labor rights, acceptance of diversity and inclusion, encouragement of participation, fight against corruption; compliance with tax and social obligations, defense of legal practices in the market, traceability, among others.
However, alongside ESG practices — favorable to the dissemination of values and principles in the corporate environment — attention is drawn to the so-called “greenwashing”, which can also be accompanied by “socialwashing” and “compliancewashing”, that is, this may not be true. concern with sustainability, respect for society and the fight against ethical deviations, these postulates can be mere declarations, constituting misleading advertising. Thus, it is necessary that the policies adopted are effective, efficient and efficient.
This context demonstrates that capitalism, founded on free enterprise, has to assume responsibilities, incorporating the defense of human rights in corporate governance. Profit at any cost is not acceptable and has been increasingly rejected by society.
Social networks and the media have been revealing behaviors that are repelled: companies caught for practices considered racist; acceptance of harassment; use of work analogous to slavery, even if carried out by contracted third parties, in short, any disrespect to human dignity is denounced and those involved must take a stand, given that reputational losses are quickly felt.
Respect for the principles and values highlighted by the ESG are certainly valid for social media – a new dimension of human relationships – which are becoming increasingly important and which, equally, must respect ethics and the law. After all, the internet cannot be isolated from reality, therefore, it needs to follow the rules of coexistence. The dissemination of lies, the so-called “Fake News” that intentionally expand ignorance; the stimulation of hatred; the offer of illegal products that harm health; of miraculous medicines and healing processes, among other practices identified in the digital space; must be curbed and are being the subject of legislative initiatives, not only in Brazil, but throughout the world. These laws need to be deeply discussed, to validate transparency and remove any relationship with censorship, aiming to contain abuses.
It is interesting to note that whenever there is a movement of control in the digital environment, there are reactions stating that the sacred right to freedom of expression is being violated. This happened when it was proposed to curb offers of illegal products by marketplaces and, as the discussions matured, it became evident that offers cannot be confused with freedom of expression. There has been progress in shaping this understanding, including the participation of operators in the digital market. The same must happen when they intend to mix up the fight against false information with censorship.
The digital environment will only grow and will have to adapt to the law and respect for ethics, as all human activity should be, whether on a personal level, or in the institutional and corporate environment. And the same should happen with the development of Artificial Intelligence. This movement is irresistible.
Even with the enactment of laws, as a proposal for conflict resolution, it would be interesting if judicialization were avoided with the adoption of alternative means, such as mediation, seeking greater speed and legal certainty. Self-regulation can be encouraged with the participation of the parties involved in the search for convergences and consensus, after all it is not credible that large companies, global players in the digital market, bet on confrontation and are contrary to ethics and the law.
There will certainly be advances and the ESG metrics disseminated by large corporate structures will not be mere declarations of good intentions, both in the physical and digital markets.