Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, is urging the media to be vigilant against any practice which corrodes competitiveness and the growth of democracy.
“Indeed, the media are the watch dogs and the guardians of our democratic system and that is why they are called the fourth estate. The media have a natural interest in campaigning against corruption as they are a part of the market system and thrive in a competitive marketplace,” the Minister argued.
She was speaking at the High Commission of Canada’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Forum, held on March 25 at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, University of the West Indies.
Senator Falconer pointed out that corruption distorts, impedes economic growth and goes against all notions of meritocracy, which is at the heart of the market system.
“The market system is based on the notion that anyone can freely and fairly compete in a system of exchange where the playing field is level. Corruption is inherently anti market and anti democratic,” she stated.
The Minister said she is pleased with the level of attention given to the issue of corruption, and to a lesser extent corporate social responsibility, by the media, both locally and globally.
“I want to urge the media to be even more alert and vigorous. For our part, as a government, we remain resolute and firmly resolved that even the scent of corruption must not be detected among us,” Senator Falconer said.
She said the Government is working hard “through legislation as well as by conduct, to ensure that integrity and probity are the watch words.”
“As a government, our interest is in the economic growth of the country and the increased welfare of our people. That is directly threatened by corruption. Corruption holds back development,” she emphasised.
Meanwhile, Senator Falconer explained that the media has a role to play in highlighting the importance of corporate social responsibility, by empowering the public with information, so they can keep companies accountable for their actions.
“Businesses respond to public pressure and are sensitive to their public reputation. The more informed people are, the better able they will be to demand accountability and good governance from businesses,” the Minister said.
In his remarks, the Canadian High Commissioner, His Excellency Robert Ready, cited the challenge of Corporate Social Responsibility in achieving a sustainable balance of benefits for the business, its employees, stakeholders and the community where the business operates.
“Canada’s prosperity and that of other nations like Jamaica, is a measure of success in meeting this challenge. Government plays a key role in establishing the conditions to help achieve and sustain this balance,” Mr. Ready said.
He also noted the media’s role as a watchdog to report on the state of corporate social responsibility and related governance principles in Jamaica, both in terms of what governments are doing, and also the private sector.
“Do current editorial policies reflect CSR principles with respect to things, such as journalistic principles and practices; acceptance of awards, gifts or junkets; use by staff of social media and acceptance of outside work. These are all issues that might benefit from discussion,” Mr. Ready said.
Corporate Social Responsibility is generally defined as those activities employed by organisations with a view to operating in a manner that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.
The forum was held under the theme: ‘Engaging the media to promote trust and competitiveness in governance – every stakeholder’s corporate social responsibility’.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter