Business, Ethics, and Social Networking

So, has big business embraced social networking? Well, the evidence is a bit uneven. There are lots of corporate blogs, including quite a few dedicated to ethics & social responsibility (see, e.g., McDonalds’ CSR blog and CSR@Intel blog). There are also plenty of companies now using Twitter (for example, @Jim_Starbucks and @methodtweet.) But effective use of social media is not exactly universal within the corporate world.

Here’s another data point: In a couple of weeks I’ll be attending & blogging this U.S. Conference Board conference in New York, as a guest of the organizers:

Business Ethics and Compliance Conference: Priorities in Today’s Regulatory and Enforcement Environment.

The conference website describes the goals of the conference this way:

What are we likely to see in the coming year? The risk environment is changing in many areas: antitrust, anti–corruption and FCPA, privacy, export control, fraud, money laundering, government contracting, environmental crimes, human rights violations, insider trading and more. What new risk areas are emerging as a result of new technologies as well as new financial pressures and uncertainties? What changes should you make to your ethics and compliance program, and what needs to be a priority for your company’s leaders?

Sounds interesting over all, but one of the sessions I’ll be most anxious to attend is one called “The Impact of Social Networks and New Communications Technologies.” After all, the use of these new technologies opens up all kinds of new avenues for corporate transparency, along with plenty of new questions about appropriate limits on transparency. Technologies like Twitter have opened up new mechanisms for broadcasting corporate messages and commitments, but have also provided new and potent means by which corporations’ critics (internal and external) can spread their own messages.

And clearly, social media is a topic that’s on the minds of the conference organizers, maybe more than other topics on the agenda. How can I tell? Because the Conference Board is bringing me in not to attend as a professor of Business Ethics — despite the fact that that’s what I do for a living — but as a business ethics blogger. I’ll be blogging (and probably Tweeting) the event: so readers of this blog — including business executives, students, critics, etc. — are going to know, through this medium, what sorts of things are being said at a conference that most won’t get to attend. Anyway, it looks like it will be a great event. Tune in to this channel on April 21 and 22 to hear all about it.

1 comment so far

  1. Celesa Horvath on

    I hope we’ll also see you at the CSR and Social Media conference in Toronto in May? (organized by the Conference Board of Canada,
    And I just started a “CSR and Social Media” group on LinkedIn, to provide a venue for dialogue among us practitioners to explore the impact of new and social media on corporate responsibility practice (including ethics considerations, of course).
    Hope to see you there!

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