I met a friend whose working on a global HR program / project for one of the major international chaebols here over the weekend. Like me he’s one of the few ‘foreigners’ who works in or with international Korean companies in Korea. He shared this article with me this morning.
To me, it brings up a constant theme which I have observed since my time in Korea. Korean companies talk alot about “going global” but less time acting like global companies.
How a company treats its employees and manages its employees fairly is one of the biggest factors driving the perception of social responsible companies in Korea and overseas. According to Edelman’s 8th annual Trust Barometer, which studies opinion leaders in markets throughout the world, including Korea, when respondents were asked, “When you think of the major global companies that you trust, which are the most important activities for a socially responsible company to engage in?” the most important factor was the same for all markets. That’s the same in Korea, China, North America or Europe – no difference! Treat your employees fairly and equally, and you increase your reputation as a responsible company.
If a company is perceived as a responsible company, it’ll retain and attract more and better employees. A 2003 survey of 800 MBA students from Stanford University showed that 97% of respondents were willing to forgo financial benefits (accept up to an average of 14% cut in expected income) to work for a company with a better reputation for corporate social responsibility and ethics.
How major Korean companies approach employee relations outside Korea is critical for their reputation and success. Unlike the article, I still believe Korean companies are international companies (not glorified exporters as the article suggests) but just need to factor in more international practice and behaviours to increase their success. My opinion: you’re a global company, act like one.