As the G20 summit gets underway in Brisbane this weekend, leading business people have stated their strong support for ethical and transparent business practices. Inspired by their faith, 35 international entrepreneurs, academics, pastors, lawyers and tax policy researchers called on all involved in business to incorporate ethical practices as a standard part of operations, at a roundtable event hosted by EXPOSED campaign.
The group’s summary statement supports new global measures for multinational corporations that will cut secret deals and profit shifting. These enable businesses to pay minimal tax via countries including Luxembourg and Cayman Islands. The delegates called on G20 decision-makers and multinational corporations’ boards to show leadership by ‘adopting and implementing fair, transparent and effective tax systems [and] promoting the rule of law’.
Graham Power, CEO of South African engineering company Power Group and founder of Unashamedly Ethical, told the roundtable that good business means asking three ethical questions about all business decisions: ‘Is it legal? Does it balance the good of all? How would it make me feel if the decision were made public?’ The statement commits participants to ‘taking practical action to conduct our business in ethical and transparent ways as an example to the whole business community’.
Tax law expert Professor Graeme Cooper, University of Sydney, spoke of the decisions the G20 must make to tackle the complex ways multinationals aggressively minimise tax: ‘Countries have to get tax right because it affects almost everything we do and it is especially vital for poor nations to raise taxes effectively.’
Amanda Jackson, the event’s facilitator, said: ‘EXPOSED wants companies to wake up to the benefits of “good” business. The roundtable delegates assert that business which follows God’s ways brings social, spiritual, environmental and cultural “profits” as well as financial profit. This benefits the whole community.’
The roundtable is the latest of a series of events held in Brisbane by EXPOSED campaign and Micah Challenge, including the first G20 protest last weekend. This saw hundreds of campaigners transform an area of Brisbane’s CBD into a mock tax haven, to highlight the $160bn tax revenue robbed annually from developing countries. An open letter signed by 95 global church leaders representing some 1bn Christians from every continent, was presented to an Australian senator at this event. EXPOSED has urged churches, business and government to address corruption in their spheres and to bring a message of hope that corruption is not inevitable.