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Good governance, from the start

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Q: What should big business’s role be in promoting meaningful corporate social responsibility and good governance around the world?
​Dani, Uganda 



When I was 16, I dropped out of school to start up a small magazine called Student. It was the height of the turbulent 1960s, and my friends and I wanted to give our generation a stronger voice. We didn’t stop there. Following the magazine’s success, we started a student advisory center where young people could get guidance on issues ranging from birth control to mental health. Looking back, it’s clear I’ve always felt that business—small or large—has the opportunity and the responsibility to do good in a community. 



Abuses are common, both by corporations and in the public sphere. So many readers of this column send me questions about how to deal with corruption and demands for kickbacks as they try to launch small businesses in countries where such practices happen all the time. 



Over more than four decades of doing business around the world, I have seen what happens when companies and corrupt officials conspire to serve their own selfish interests: They wreak havoc on our planet and its fragile ecosystems, destroy communities and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. As a result, many people distrust business and public institutions. And why wouldn’t they


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