The World Economic Forum in Davos is not just a get-together of leading politicians and managers. Organizations like Amnesty International are also piping up - with scathing criticism.
"Davos can not afford to be a complacent club for the rich and powerful of this world," says Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International. Shetty is calling for a demonstration in Davos with the slogan, "Keep companies on a tight leash!"
Nongovernmental organizations (NGO) have adopted a new self-confidence at this year's forum in the Swiss Alps, and are making sure their topics are on the agenda.
"The governments must take responsibility," demands Shetty, adding "the activities of large corporations must be regulated."
Shetty does not mince his words when it comes to criticizing the practices of large companies. He blames them for the current economic crisis, which has forced an additional 50 million people below the poverty line. The managers gathered in Davos are feeling the pressure.
Are companies acting responsibly?
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), a global consultancy with around 180,000 employees, has presented a new study on the influence of corporations on the economy and society. According to DTTL's findings, most managers are convinced that their company is making an important contribution to society.
However, the authors of the study also point out that communication must be improved.
"Actually most companies are already making an important contribution to society and progress," says Heather Hancock, Managing Partner of DTTL. "Companies create sustainable growth, they also ensure there is enough food to meet the rising population or enough homes and modern transport." Hancock maintains that the economy has the necessary muscle to tackle these important issues.
Profit is not everything
"The greed of corporations has become more important than responsible and transparent dealings," counters Sahil Shetty of Amnesty. He wants the politicians to force stricter regulation on large corporations as part of their response to the crisis.
But how do young people feel about this debate? The DTTL study also specifically targeted the younger generation: 1,000 so-called "Millenials," or people born after 1981, and currently working for Deloitte. They say personal responsibility, corporate responsibility and the social responsibility towards must go hand in hand. The value of a company must not merely be measured by its profits but also by the nature of its contributions to society.
Author: Manuela Kasper-Claridge, Davos / nk
Editor: Holly Fox