Multinationals bring great wealth to society. In and around multinationals, the most amazing discoveries and inventions are made. We have to recognise that. It started with the wealthy shipping “companies” in the seventeenth century and continues today with the big data companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook. We should be grateful for the material progress multinationals have brought us.
Many multinationals have started using ESG (Environmental, Social en Governance) criteria in deciding what to do and what to don’t do. They realise their reputation as well as the Earth’s sustainability is at stake. What they don’t seem to realise well, is their impact on the ‘small ones’, the small suppliers, customers, labourers, etc.. In the animal world, big eats little and the same happens in industry. The small or poor ones can never properly negotiate with the big one. The big one determines the conditions, just like the elephant decides where he treads. The ants have to make sure they get away in time. The negotiation process between big and little is never really a negotiation process; it always ends with little accepting the conditions imposed by big. Multinationals have to become more aware of their tremendous leveraging power in negotiations and their huge impact on local industrial and agricultural ecosystems. This awareness could have saved us from our most bitter memories of colonialism. Alas, colonialism is still going on, in a different way than before.
Negotiation should be done between equals, not between elephants and ants. Inequality induced by unfair negotiation is however not the privilege of multinationals! It would also be good if multinational shareholders started paying taxes, like we all do. All-mightiness is usually a bad thing.
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