THE BLOG

Corporate Social Irresponsibility

25/06/2013 10:08 BST | Updated 23/08/2013 10:12 BST

It seems that every day another company hits the headlines for behaving badly. The offences vary, it can be multinationals avoiding tax, banks wrecking the economy, energy giants polluting the environment, utilities price fixing, tech companies passing consumer data to governments or many other things.

But increasingly the focus is moving away from the company itself to the people who run it. Distaste for corporate social irresponsibility is becoming personal, as the recent threats to charge the heads of failed banks with criminal behaviour shows.

And yet, from my work with people changing jobs and careers, I know that for most ordinary people a key consideration when accepting a job is whether the company is ethical and behaves with integrity. Some people are attracted to the idea of working in a company's corporate social responsibility team, and most of those who aren't at least want to know that the company conducts itself in a way that reflects well on its employees.

So what can you do to make sure that the company you are considering moving to isn't going to be slated in next week's media for antisocial behaviour? The answer of course, is to do nothing more than you should do anyway. Which is to do your research before you even contemplate making a move.

One of the problems with the contemporary workplace is that many people take a new job without knowing what it really involves, who they will be working with, or what the company's culture is. And of course this can lead to great disappointment. It's always essential to do thorough research on companies, both before you apply, when you get an interview and again before you accept a job. Finding out whether a company has the integrity you value is part of that research.

You can do your research in many ways. You can use the internet, particularly social media, you can read the newspapers, go to your local library and use one of business information services they subscribe to. But best of all, if you have the opportunity, is to talk to people who actually work for, or with the company. They are the ones who know it best.

But what if it's too late and you find yourself working for a company that everybody is criticising? The answer has to be to carefully consider your options. Do you have enough of a voice in the company to influence change for the better? Should you consider leaving? Should you just keep your head down and hope that nobody you care about notices who you work for? There are no easy solutions, except for one and that's the one to avoid. You shouldn't just avoid the problem.

Anti-social company behaviour is likely to become an increasingly fractious issue over the coming years. It is likely to impact on many of us, because so many companies are likely to be caught up in it. For your own piece of mind and to ensure that you do a job you value doing, you can't just overlook it.