“I will teach them how to bribe. After all, that is the reality in business.” Those were statements uttered by a classmate of yesteryears, statements that I found quite disturbing. I am not naïve to the way that businesses and governments have played a perfect song and dance. Yet, I will not be able to face the young adults that pass the hallways of my university if I will not try to influence them to think and believe that change can happen in their generation.
There is no need to rehash the varied scandals the country has faced as many of those who have gained power, legitimately or otherwise, in government or in industry, have chosen to perpetuate a system where money alone speaks. If only the money gained and spent in illegal activities were channeled to truly developmental programs, the country would have become quite prosperous. The tricycle driver who died of hunger or the sick woman who was turned away from the hospital would have experienced a different fate. Alas, a former student of mine was robbed thrice by three different taxi cab drivers at different times of the day, since they have become consumed by their desire for a quick buck to try to live comfortable lives.
Is this really the way we want our country to be run? We turn a blind eye to the corruption that surrounds us, for as long as it does not directly affect us? But it does. With every bribe money that has exchanged hands, one more person has been subjected to an injustice; one more person has been disadvantaged. This makes it ripe for people to take matters into their own hands and make our streets dangerous to walk on.
Soon, the young adults who attended lessons in my class will become individuals who will have great influence. I pray that along the way, they do not get corrupted by the system and instead remain steadfast in their desire to make a difference. I believe they can be the agents of change that the country desperately needs.
On November 14 and 15, school heads and business deans will gather to discuss how we can provide responsible management education. Be part of that discussion. Join us in the Fourth PRME Asia Forum, and together let us develop leaders who will uphold the value of the common good.
Dr. Santiago is the Dean of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, and a Full Professor at the Management and Organization Department, of De La Salle University. She teaches Corporate Social Responsiveness, Sustainable Organizations, Leadership in Organization, Family Business Management, Human Resource Management, and Finance in Education. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org