Sunday, April 18, 2010

On the annual report

How well does your company’s annual report communicate and reinforce leadership intent and corporate values?

A good way to start answering this question is to read Milt Moskowitz's great analysis of Novartis's 2009 annual report for strategy+business. Moskowitz, who's on Business and Society Review's editorial board and co-developed Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” survey, starts like this:

The corporate annual report, a widely ignored document, could do with a makeover. It is generally devoid of transparency, candor, and life. Most companies seem to regard it as a chore. In recent years, these reports have been reduced in size. Many companies now greet shareholders with a bland statement placed in front of the 10-K report they file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Talk about tough reading.

If you want to see just how big a missed opportunity this is, take a look at the annual reports of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG. The company sets a new standard for delivery of information in clear, nuanced, and felicitous the rest here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Business ethics reader

I was pleased to see an article of mine included in Annual Editions: Business Ethics 10/11 (McGraw-Hill) edited by John Richardson at Pepperdine.

The article, "An Ethical Dilemma," was published in Selling Power in 2004. It uses the TAP Pharmaceutical case, in which the company paid an $875 million fine to the government, to illustrate the dangers of unethical and illegal sales practices. It goes on to describe how to build ethical integrity into the sales function in four ways, by:
  • Specifying boundaries that are supported by corporate values and policies;
  • Including ethics as a consideration in hiring decisions and training curriculum;
  • Building ethics into selling and compensation systems;
  • Enlisting unwavering managerial support in terms of compliance and enforcement.

The reader is part of McGraw's Annual Editions series, which publish selected articles from periodicals in topical collections and sell them for use in college courses. I wonder if I'll be getting a little payback for all the boring reading I had to do as a student.