‘Not my problem’ – undermining personal and corporate social responsibility


Driving by

I read a BBC article today ‘Driven to his death: Mystery of motorcyclist body on M4’ about a motorcyclist who was killed by a man later convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

What struck me in particular was one paragraph in which it was reported that a couple had seen the motorcycle “spinning clockwise on its side in the near distance.” The woman passenger “screamed at her husband who swerves to avoid it, the bike still spinning as they pass.” There is no suggestion that this couple reported the incident to the police. 

The article does state, earlier in the piece, that a member of the public called the police saying “There's a motorbike right against the central reservation… It’s actually on the floor. But there's no sign of the driver.” The inference I draw, perhaps wrongly, is that the couple did not report the incident. It was Christmas Day, a little before 6pm. It is, unfortunately, likely that they decided not to call the police, perhaps because the driver thought he might be over the limit; or more likely because they decided that it was not their problem and did not want to ‘get involved’.

Compromise and compromised

Compromise is essential if disputes are to be resolved and allows business and personal relationships to continue in one form or another, or to have closure. Another use of ‘compromised’ is to “reduce the quality, value, or degree of something, such as one’s ideals” (Freedictionary). It is this second meaning that too often results from the first.

Compromise agreements are common in the context of employment where an employment dispute is settled, usually on the basis of a payment and commonly with a gagging clause preventing any disclosure by either party, including of the existence of such an agreement. There have been many recent examples thrown up by the #MeToo movement in which individuals report their regret at having accepted hush money and the fact that if they had spoken out a perpetrator might have been stopped sooner.

Corporate Social “Responsibility”

I have seen far too many cases in recent years of deals being done by major corporates that served their interests alone, protecting individuals and their brand from ‘reputational damage’, and allowing a situation to continue that they could have brought to public attention. Is it right that organisations that make much of their CSR efforts nonetheless turn a blind eye to wrongdoing with the result that it is allowed to continue to the detriment of others? In my view it is not.

Erosion of values

How often do we hear the question ‘how did they get away with it for so long’? The reasons are all too human and reflect the corrosive impact of social media and other modern means of public humiliation and scrutiny, which do not deter those in power, but rather those who might call them out. Most will not put their heads above the parapet for fear of the consequences. Most will look and walk the other way. Most will say to themselves and others ‘it’s not my problem’. The message that we all need to heed is much the same as we hear on public transport: ‘See it. Say it. Sorted.’ Leaving it to someone else is simply not the right thing to do.