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20 / 07 / 2004
Marilyn Tam: “A deep change is necessary. Not doing it would be harmful for all”

The executive director of Us Foundation and former vice-president of Reebok Apparel and Retail Group pointed at the need for businesses to efficiently contribute to development. In the opening session of the dialogue “The Role of Corporations in the 21st Century” also delivered their speeches François Perigot, chair of the International Organisation of Employers and Bibi Rusell, founder of Bibi Productions in Bangladesh

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Marilyn Tam, executive director of the Us Foundation from the USA pointed in her keynote speech during the dialogue on “The Role of Corporations in the 21st Century” that, “A deep change is necessary. Not doing so would be harmful for all, citizens and businesses alike.” She pointed at the need to get businesses directly involved in present-day problems such as “the living standards, education, the environment, and the real situation of countries were companies are located.”

In her opinion, “it is necessary to share the good and the bad aspects of development”, and to this end she proposed what she considers the four basic principles of an entrepreneur that, in her experience, have not only helped her “establish and maintain integrity and ethics in business and in life, but also achieve success in the currently competitive global world.” Tam listed the following four principles: To tell the truth, to establish partnerships, to make only big mistakes and to fight until the end defending one’s own principles.

Tam explained that in business it should not be expected that the others, the government or third companies take the first steps and that swift and efficient action must always be anticipated in business management.

For his part François Perigot, chair of the International Organisation of Employers stated the importance of corporations in the current international situation, “as these do not operate in an isolated way. Rather, they take part in the economic and political development framework while playing a key role in the shaping of fundamental activities such as employment, economic growth and the search for social justice.”

Likewise, Perigot pointed, “in a world that is ruled by obsolete models we need new models for solidarity and dialogue in which business can take active part.” He also reaffirmed the importance of democracy, market economy and corporate social responsibility as basic concepts to be defined and worked on.

Bibi Russell, the founder of Bibi Productions, a small company from Bangladesh that produces and sells textiles and handcrafts, criticized the Western media’s exclusive attention to natural disasters and misery in poor countries, because “there are other things besides poverty in my country.”

On explaining the story of Bibi Productions, she assured that despite the common perception by the West that companies from her country have quality problems and an alleged inability to meet deadlines, she never had any goods returned nor deadline problems. Finally, Russell stated “there is beauty in poverty and I intend to show this magic to you.”