Monday, 7 may 2018 | Redacción CEU
Sustainability, responsibility in data management, social inclusion, diversity, transparency, salary equity, corporate social responsibility, creation of shared value, alignment with the SDGs... These are just some of the most addressed topics in company dossiers and the announcements of initiatives of some of the most important companies in the world. All of them have something in common, the growing interest and concern for the care of ethics and the social commitment of the corporations that back them, but, what happens when these values are not real, but imposed?
If we turn the head and just look back a few years ago, we find that there are many things that have changed in our experience and conception of businesses. These changes are generated mostly by the impact on the economy of new trends like the boom of the shared economy, the blockchain appearance or the new alternative financing formulas; by a new work approach that is more focused on people, as in customer experience, but also on employee experience; by a change in patterns of behavior in society, such as hyper-connectivity, the growing smartphones use or the online purchases; or by, in short, everything that is related to the digital transformation of companies.
In this new way of understanding business, ethics also acquires a greater weight, problems such as climate change, the lack of harmony among different generations, the custody and use of data or the fight against corruption occupy a significant space in the corporative agendas. New figures that monitor the proper behavior of the firms like the Compliance Officer, a professional responsible for supervising and managing all matters related to the regulatory compliance of the company, or the Data Protection Officer, a specialist guarantor of the compliance with data protection in organizations, also appear in companies. It is evident that there is a clear interest in an ethical and social commitment in the contemporary business world, but what if this is not real in some cases, but just dramatized?
What is real in the era of the post-truth
The Oxford Dictionary gave the category of word of the year to “post-truth” in 2016. A year later, the Royal Spanish Academy incorporated it into its dictionary. This institution has defined it as the "deliberate distortion of a reality, which manipulates beliefs and emotions in order to influence public opinion and social attitudes". This neologism is based on something that is not so new, the power-force of the emotion as a shaper of public opinion and a formula for reinforcing personal beliefs or prejudices.
If this concept has reached its current relevance, in large part, it is due to the proliferation of fake news in digital media, the use of data to spread personalized images or messages and its great influential force in society. Some experts argue that the inaccurate publications could have affected the results of the last US presidential election or the ones from the "Brexit" referendum. The post-truth allows that something that seems real and according to our way of thinking, although it is not, can be taken as indisputable and true without any need for questioning.
Some unethical agents can achieve short and medium term objectives using this technique. However, although the motor force of post-truth is viral and eclipses, in the long term it does not maintain. The same happens in the business world, the greatest guarantors of the behavior of a company are the ethical commitment and transparency. Words, empty messages and isolated actions are dust in the wind. It is the coherence, perseverance and integrity that really place a company as ethic. A work that implies that companies do not only look inside, but also outside.