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How can Shell ensure ethical behavior when operating in highly corrupt countries?

Introduction

Shell is an oil and gas company operating globally. Also known as the royal Dutch Shell, the outfit was formed in 1907 after the merger of Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport& Trading companies. Its headquarters are at The Hague, Netherlands, with its registered office in London in The United Kingdom. Shell employs over 87000 people in more than seventy countries world-wide.

Ethics refers to the code of conduct of an individual or firm. The image projected could harm or benefit the relationship between the public and the firm.

With corruption rife in many of Shell’s markets, strategies need to be put in place to maintain the image and business reach of one of the biggest companies in the world.

Ways in which shell can ensure ethical behavior while operating in highly corrupt countries

Transparency

Shell should adopt a policy of openness, where business operations take place in the public sphere. Wage transparency calls for disclosure of the earnings of the top staff in a firm as well as exposure to public scrutiny. In management transparency, decision making is done in the full glare of the public, all documents become public record. Corporate transparency entails provision of free public access to corporate information.

Honesty

Truthfulness is an essential element for a firm wishing to expand its reach and avoid entrapment by corrupt entities in areas of operation.

If Shell is true to its word and straightforward in its dealings, then it raises the bar for competitors and opens the floodgates for investments. Lying breeds an environment of mistrust which works against the interests of a company.

Integrity

There is a thin line between honesty and integrity. Simply put, integrity refers to the concept of honesty that has been repeated consistently over time, to a point where a firm or an individual are synonymous with truth.

In upholding ethical practices, Shell should question its own internal consistency and objectivity. This creates an environment where the company does not strain in the process of trying to be believed.

Corrupt political establishments tend to stay away from companies that have established track records of consistent truthfulness in actions, behaviour, morality and choices.

With the above values in place, Shell would never again suffer the embarrassment of 2004( company executives supplied incorrect information about their oil reserves).These values would also shield the global entity against claims of corruption and political compromising as happened in Nigeria between 1995 and 2005.

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