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Volkswagen y el futuro de la honradez

PRINCETON – Si usabas el término “ética empresarial” en el decenio de 1970, cuando esa disciplina estaba empezando a desarrollarse, una respuesta común era:”¿Acaso no es un oxímoron?” Con frecuencia a esa broma seguía el recitado de la famosa máxima de Milton Friedman de que la única responsabilidad social de los ejecutivos de empresas era la de hacer la mayor cantidad de dinero legalmente posible para sus accionistas.

Sin embargo, durante los cuarenta años siguientes los empresarios dejaron de citar a Friedman y empezaron a hablar de sus responsabilidades para con las partes interesadas de sus empresas, grupo que incluye no sólo a los accionistas, sino también a los clientes, los empleados y los miembros de las comunidades en las que actúan.

En 2009, entre la primera clase de la Escuela de Administración de Empresas de Harvard que se graduó después de la crisis financiera mundial circuló un juramento. Los que lo aceptaron –una minoría, desde luego– juraron dedicarse a su labor “de forma ética” y dirigir sus empresas “con buena fe, absteniéndose de adoptar decisiones y comportamientos que hagan avanzar mis estrechas ambiciones, pero perjudiquen a la empresa y a las sociedades a las que ésta sirve”.

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