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Picking your partner wisely



There are few things less senseless than when innocent people become casualties of conflict. That was the case on 17 July when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over a Russian separatist held area of Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board.

When the news broke, the world shared a sense of outrage and sadness. The tragedy hit close to home when it was revealed that among the victims were 37 Australian citizens and permanent residents.

It’s now widely believed that Russian separatists are responsible for shooting the plan down, having obtained their weapons from Russia.

MH17 is indicative of the escalating turmoil between Russia and Ukraine that we first discussed in March; and though it is a complex issue with countless people involved, Russian President Vladmir Putin has been the global face of the crisis since it began.

It is no surprise then that the world is unified in its anger at Russia and its leader. This anger only builds as the investigation goes on. Evidence, including bodies, was left uncovered for days and access has been severely restricted to the Australian and Dutch investigators due to ongoing fighting.

Boycotts against Russia were first proposed and enacted unofficially back when the Crimean Peninsula Crisis began. Now, as frustration builds over the handling of the crisis and the investigation, these calls are even louder – particularly in the countries involved in the conflict or that lost nationals on MH17.

Recently, the US announced that it would be imposing a number of economic sanctions on Russia that will affect its energy, arms and banking sectors.

With sanctions and boycotts in place, what does it mean for organisations that trade with Russia or get their supplies from them?

Company leaders of organisations that do business with Russia have likely been watching nervously over the past few months as the Russia-Ukraine crisis has escalated. Now, with the tension coming to a boiling point, it is almost certain to have an effect on their business, the extent of which is unknown.

Though in recent history this is the most notable example, boycotts and dissent towards Russia have been going on for years including protests earlier this year on Russia’s laws against “gay propaganda” and protests in 2011 against legislation prohibitingpublic assembly.

Consumers are flooded with choices, and given the current political climate and the emotion that has emerged from this crisis, it will be no surprise if they choose domestic goods or those imported from elsewhere.

Your business partners, suppliers or sponsors are long-term investments. If you partner with organisations that have strong reputations and share your vision and values, it will eventually pay off. Not only will you lessen the risks of crisis, but you’ll build a strong relationship and be known as a socially responsible company.

On the flip side, if you choose irresponsible partners, whether that be an individual organisation or a company within a region, this is a risk that will likely backfire eventually. Eventually, the organisations financial or social missteps will be brought to light and they will pull your organisation down.

Think about your organisation’s partners. Do you know how they operate? Do they share your values? Are you aware of their social, legal and financial happenings? If not, we urge you to investigate and reconsider these relationships as needed.

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