The Ukraine crisis has revealed just how powerful real corporate social responsibility can be.
In a surprising, organic show of unity, everyone from the banking to entertainment sectors cracked down on their Russian operation, even if it came at their own expense.
This should serve as a blueprint. Real corporate social responsibility should be more than back-patting and greenwashing; companies should act on their principles, instead of simply putting them in the company newsletter.
Since Putin began his shocking invasion of Ukraine, an unprecedented package of sanctions has been rolled out. The EU has so far kicked seven Russian banks out of the SWIFT worldwide payment network. The U.S government has placed export taxes on Russia’s oil refining sector, much of the world’s airspace is now closed to Russians including private jets, and Switzerland, famously neutral and known as a tax haven for the ultra-rich, has stepped out of the shadow to freeze Russian assets.
All of these sanctions will ramp up the pressure on Russian President Putin and have already placed the Russian economy and its currency the ruble under enormous strain. But there is a limit to state power, short of a military invasion or a no-fly zone that Western leaders have ruled out.
The private sector has revealed just how much it can do when it wants to. Apple has suspended all sales in Russia, Apple Pay has been strictly limited and the Russian state broadcaster R.T has been kicked off the App Store. ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell, hardly the bastion of morality, are selling off their Russian assets. Disney has scrapped film launches in the country, and H&M, Nike, Volkswagen, Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz have all ceased operations and deliveries. The list goes on.