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A Year of Corporate Social Responsibility Failures

  • Philip E. Quigley
November/December 2017

Editor’s note: This is the final department authored by Philip E. Quigley, CFPIM, PMP. The editors of APICS magazine offer our sincere thanks for his years of service to the APICS community and wish him well in all his future endeavors.

This has been quite a year for crises related to culture, values and ethics in the supply chain. For starters, ride-hailing service provider Uber has paid reparations totaling $20 million after making false promises about driver earning potential; lost a half-million app users when #DeleteUber went viral as a result of the company's activity during a taxi protest; paid New York City drivers tens of millions of dollars after taking a larger cut of fares than it was entitled; and fired numerous employees following investigations of sexual harassment, stolen trade secrets, systematic deception of law enforcement, discrimination and more.

 Automotive manufacturers have been struggling in recent years as well. General Motors concealed a deadly defect and misled consumers about the safety of many cars. Takata filed for bankruptcy as a result of faulty airbag inflators, which could shoot shrapnel at drivers and passengers if the housing ruptured. And Volkswagen’s so-called “diesel dupe” stunned drivers after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that many cars had a defeat device — software in the diesel engine that could detect when emissions tests were in progress and improve performance results.

The financial industry also was all over the news when Wells Fargo was discovered to have 3.5 million potentially fake bank and credit card accounts. The banking and financial services institution also charged about 190,000 accounts with unnecessary fees, and thousands of customers were enrolled in online bill pay without their authorization. Wells Fargo blamed unrealistic sales goals placed on its employees.

There are, of course, numerous causes behind such unfortunate events, but one thing is certain: All of these organizations fell short with company culture and lacked effective management teams. With this in mind, consider the following three strategies for ensuring that your company designs, implements and follows a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan:

1. Bring people aboard by recruiting globally, clearly understanding what type of talent you are looking for and ensuring new hires fit the company culture. Commitment to diversity and inclusion are key to this goal, as they will enable your business to foster professional environments that value equality and individual differences and inspire people of all profiles and backgrounds to contribute to supply chain initiatives.

2. Make these people effective quickly so they can become productive, highly valued employees. The key here is carefully thought-out training and placing new employees with teams and leaders who will accept, mentor and teach them. It’s essential to work with your leadership team and confirm that they understand the objectives and are on board with the professional development intents and aims.

3. Design your business processes around speed and flexibility. This step demands that you empower the people in your organization — all of them. You likely will need to reduce the number of management reviews, meetings and approval documents to be signed, and always keep in mind the importance of consistently integrating the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit into business practices in order to promote a positive culture, values and ethics throughout the supply chain.

These steps are straightforward in concept but extremely difficult to execute in the real world. It will take a highly committed, articulate leadership team with members who understand the simple fact that people and processes are the key to success in our highly competitive world.

Philip E. Quigley, CFPIM, PMP, is senior project manager at Ingram Micro and an adjunct professor in the department of management at California State University, Fullerton. He may be contacted at

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