Good and responsible corporate citizens

Good and responsible corporate citizens"Considerate action should not hugely affect company profits."



It is a given that people and corporations go into business to make money. In the old days, there was no stopping businesses from making as much money as they can regardless of the means and propriety. Nowadays, however, there are such things as Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Ethics. Businesses can no longer just focus on how much money they can make without considering what is good for the society. Companies must now produce reliable products, charge fair prices for their goods, pay fair wages to their employees and generate fair profit margins. Being considered as a good and responsible corporate citizen is now a byword in the business world. This is the reason why companies go to great lengths to be included in the list of the most admired and respected companies. Inclusion in this list is much coveted because of what it does to the image of a company.

Over the years, some Philippine companies have grown large enough to be included in the list of 1,000 biggest corporations in Asia which in itself is an honor. Many of them work hard in trying to enhance their business reputations as responsible corporate citizens—and some do succeed. Others, however, do not always measure up to the image they are trying to project. Let us look at two companies, Globe and Smart/PLDT. These two companies basically control the whole internet and cell phone services of the country as a duopoly. In spite of some reports of improving services like internet speed, it is not nearly enough. The internet speed in this country is still one of the slowest in Asia and one of the most expensive. The only thing that is extra efficient in these two companies are their revenue collection efforts.

In fact, I myself have experienced this many times even if I have been a loyal Globe subscriber for about 22 years. One morning, I got a text reminder about my bills at about 8:30 AM and before lunchtime, my line was disconnected. That is efficiency for you. With regard to internet connections, I experienced PLDT cutting off my internet connection on the day that the bill was due. In other words, I was not yet technically late in paying. That resulted in my two grandchildren missing their classes for a day and a half. One cannot even get someone on the telephone to complain because everything is done electronically to save on cost to maximize profits. Since the services being provided by both companies are still below par, they should perhaps be more considerate especially during this period when the pandemic is still raging, and consider the travel restrictions being imposed by the government before disconnecting.

This considerate action should not hugely affect company profits. The bottom line is that the services they provide must be commensurate to the fees they charge their customers. Consumers have been complaining for ages for improved services but it is the fees that seem to be increasing all the time.

This is what happens when there is no real competition. It is for this reason that probably drove President Duterte to initiate the entry of one more service provider. Trouble is, the company is apparently owned by a Filipino Chinese businessman from Davao reputed to be closely identified to him. Whether this is good or not, we will have to wait and see. But for now, we have to bear with the two dominant and unforgiving players, Globe and Smart/PLDT. Let us hope that with the entry of this third provider, the domination of the two will finally be broken. More importantly, services will finally improve and charges will go down to make internet more affordable to the public.

Globe and Smart/PLDT are actually part of two much bigger corporations that are also engaged in providing water for residents of most parts of the Metro area in its environs. These are Manila Water and Maynilad. Both water providers were able to sign a contract with the government in the 1990s to set up the two water companies but with a proviso. This is for the government to agree to reimburse Manila Water and Maynilad in case they incur losses in their operations that is not due to their fault. As we know, a couple of years back, President Duterte threatened both with a lawsuit which made them backed down from collecting several billions of pesos from the government as a result of an arbitral ruling. I guess when everything is said and done, the only relevant question to ask is that—Are the fees being collected by the two justified with the quality of services they provide and should the public consider them good and responsible corporate citizens?

Topics: Corporate Social Responsibility , Business Ethics , Smart/PLDT , Globe
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