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We are used to hearing about ‘responsible corporations’ and what it is they are supposed to be doing for customers and society as a whole. However, you and I also have responsibilities as ‘corporate citizens’ and there are many expectations from us as well.

It actually doesn’t take too much to be a ‘good corporate citizen’, just as it doesn’t take too much to be a good citizen – period. So what stops us from doing what it is that we should? In most cases, it is a lack of awareness and, of course, the classic question: “What’s in it for me?”

Let me start with this burning issue and go on to the rest of it.
Any positive opinions about our reputations are largely dependent on what we do and say as much as it is about how we do it. From the simple and mundane to the more structured areas of social interaction, people either have high regard for us or tolerate us, depending on their need for our services. So the payoff for us is certainly very high, especially if we seek to advance our careers.

Consider: Our behaviour reflects our upbringing and family background irrespective of our fancy titles and flashy cars. Are we respectful and respectable? Are we people of our word or do we treat commitments as something to make and not keep? Do we display good manners – punctuality, standing up for elders, putting our chairs back, using the proper forms of address? One of the biggest giveaways is our table manners (or lack of them).

Simple things like responding to queries and returning phone calls, the way we receive and see-off our visitors, dressing appropriately for the occasion, etc., are a few of the areas we tend to forget. Obeying the rules (company and external), respecting the rights of others and standing up for your own, also form part of the overall picture.
A good corporate citizen is a shining example to others. Are you?

– Leon Menezes
The writer is General Manager, HR, at a multinational company.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on May 20, 2012.