Alford Poor Selection for "Executive of the Year"
Date of publication: September 13, 2005
Source: Miami Student via U-Wire
The Miami Student via U-Wire September 13, 2005
Alford poor selection for 'Executive of Year'
The Miami Student via U-Wire
September 13, 2005
By Staff Editorial, The Miami Student; SOURCE: Miami University
The gaping disconnect between profit and corporate responsibility was on bright and shameful display right here at Miami University this past Wednesday as Nestle CEO and Miami alumnus Brad Alford spoke in front of a Hall Auditorium audience. Alford delivered a speech concerning "communication and marketing strategy in a technologically advanced society."
Missing from Alford's speech was any direct acknowledgement of the allegations the Nestle Company faces regarding severe human rights violations. Human rights groups such as the International Labor Right Fund have accused Alford's company of numerous ethical missteps such as supporting child labor in the Ivory Coast of Africa where the company gets the cocoa beans it uses in its products.
To express its severe concern for these issues, the Richard T. Farmer School of Business not only brought Alford to speak, but issued him the award "National Executive of the Year." The dean of the business school, Roger Jenkins, pointed to Alford's experience as "an international businessman" and hailed his "marketing expertise" and "cutting-edge advertising strategies."
This type of commendation, bestowed upon a man who represents a company facing allegations of such glaring ethical violations, is simply another example of how profit has come to rule sectors of the business world with complete and utter disregard for concerns of ethical behavior toward workers and consumers.
Additionally, it must be noted that Alford has made charitable donations to Miami in the past, and although the director of Communications for University Advancement, Tamara Hatcher, denies that this has any implication for the award, the fact that Alford is a wealthy, donating alumni must have come into consideration.
For Alford's part, he side-stepped the accusations that his company was acting immorally by explaining that they do not buy directly from the farmers, but third-party intermediaries. Simply because these intermediaries exist, however, does not mean Nestle is not exercising its vast influence in the Ivory Coast region to keep conditions favorable for forcing farmers to harvest a cash crop like the cocoa bean instead of actual food while simultaneously allowing for the continuation of child labor to keep prices as low as possible.
In effect, "intermediary" is simply a way of saying "not our fault"- an easy way to wash ones hands of culpability.
In the course of earning a degree from the Richard T. Farmer School of Business, students have no requirements to take a class focusing on ethics in the business world. With this example of rewarding greed-motivated business practices, it is not difficult to see why.