Compassion as balance for rationality – three questions for Sasja Beslik

Three questions moves forth to Sasja Beslik, chief of responsible investments at Nordea, formerly from Banco Funds. Recently he received an important award from Young Global Leader 2011 from World Economic Forum, which makes it even more interesting to ask him questions regarding ethics and Fair Sex.

Today’s post differs from the earlier ones. Sasja is an internationally known and prominent expert in CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility. He combines a personal answer with the company’s perspective on the matter.

1- What do you think is important in life?

That is a big question. I consider three things important; love, family and friends.

2- What would you like to see more of in society?

I would like to see more happiness, creativity, compassion and engagement. I want to see less indifference. We live in an extremely masculine world. The finance crisis is a man’s crisis. I want to see more emotional presence. Many people say they value the rational, maybe we would gain something by being more emotional.

3- Has “Fair Sex” as an idea, the place it deserves in society and what important challenges do you find connected to it? How are companies affected?

We need to get the discussion going, there is far too little of it, of Fair Sex.

From a company’s and ethic perspective it is a matter which is of immediate importance in developing countries. 80 percent of Swedish companies’ production are made in developing countries. Countries where sex trafficking and prostitution is very common.

Certain industries are affected more than others. I have worked in the oil industry in Georgia and Azerbaijan. Alcoholism and prostitution are common effects of large-scale investments and projects.

The companies often have guidelines on a group level regarding the behavior of the personnel but sex trade occurs after business hours. How do you observe it in Swedish companies? The companies are against sex trafficking and trade on a policy level. Codes and ethic guidelines are one thing, following them is another. When we inspect companies, we must have basic data because sex trade occurs during spare time. Every tenth person heading for Asia will purchase sex. How do you pay attention to this? The airline companies have a great opportunity to affect its travelers.

The matter has certainly a place in companies’ responsibility debate, maybe primarily in the local society where the company building is located. Even hotels and companies in the tourist industry have a good opportunity to affect those interested and act against sex trafficking and prostitution locally.

Companies are also affected in countries like South Africa where AIDS/HIV is a problem and this affects operations in the country, coworkers and the local populace.

Using women to enhance business is probably customary for companies in Asia, Russia and Italy. We are not immune to this.

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