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Industry Insights – Chitra Radhakishun

Meet Chitra, the Chief Ethics Officer from WIPO

Corporate Governance:
Ethics in International Business and Organizations

Ethics, anti-corruption, and corporate governance practices are currently mainstream considerations in business decisions about competitive advantage and financial performance. Around the turn of the century, the story was altogether different. At best, these topics were acknowledged as marginal non-financial issues, and at worst, they were rejected or denounced as irrelevant to the core objective of profit maximization.

Companies from all industries and of all sizes, and across all regions of the world, now readily embrace these topics as strategic components of their long-term business sustainability.

As expressed in a study by the World Bank, the shift of non-financial issues from marginal to mainstream components of business decision-making is among the most positive developments observed over the past decade or two. The implications of this shift, as well as of 
its evolving application, will be of fundamental importance to the future of global economic integration, national development, and poverty reduction (FOCUS publication, World Bank).

From Volkswagen’s emissions fiasco to Wells Fargo’s deceptive sales practices to Uber’s privacy intrusions, corporate wrongdoing is a continuing reality in global business. Unethical behavior impacts organizations by damaging reputations, harming employee morale, and increasing regulatory costs—not to mention the wider damage to society’s overall trust in business. Few executives set out to achieve an advantage by breaking the rules, and most companies have programs in place to prevent malpractice at all levels.

Both in the public sector, including in international organizations, and in international business, responding to ethical challenges is central to good corporate governance.

About the Speaker

Chitra Radhakishun is the Chief Ethics Officer of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). WIPO is one of the oldest specialized agencies of the United Nations system.

Prior to that, she served at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly, where her last post was that of Manager of the Project on International Dispute Settlement in Trade, Investment and Intellectual Property.

Her areas of specialization are ethics, including institutional ethics, ethics and AI (Artificial Intelligence), communications and IT, ethics in the creative sector, international trade and investment, arbitration, and dispute resolution. She has published on these topics as well as on a variety of topics on international cooperation between the economic North and the developing South. Read her article on Ethics and Innovation in WIPO magazine.

Ms. Radhakishun has made frequent presentations at United Nations’ and international events and for NGOs and Think Tanks, including as chair and/or moderator of events, and has conducted training courses and/or lectured at Universities in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.

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