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Next level behaviour change

24 June, 2022

Over 95% of British companies with a Russian presence have fully withdrawn from trading there. In the EU that figure drops to 52%; in Germany to 50%; in France to 27.8%. Why? 

It is unlikely that they don’t care. Countries everywhere are supporting Ukraine in unprecedented ways. However, these numbers could indicate different attitudes to what is expected of business and what determines how they should act.  

France and Germany rely more heavily on formal regulatory systems, where businesses adapt their behaviour according to governmental action and regulation. This leaves less space for corporate responsibility, or self-regulation by these companies, who tend to wait for regulation rather than make voluntary decisions on their own.  

On the other hand, countries such as the UK or the US rely more heavily on signals from their customers rather than governments, and the “social license to operate.” Responsibility, rather than regulation, often comes to fore, and reputation also plays a bigger part. This makes the weighing up of whether to stay in Russia or not different – the decision is neither dictated by government or by pure financial reckonings. Reputation and moral and ethical choices come further to the fore.  

This context is important when thinking about business responsibility and leadership on a global scale. There’s a degree to which corporate behaviour change is similar to personal behaviour change: understanding what levers exist to create change in different contexts is necessary in the drive for overall progress. 

By Marie Guerinet

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