A terminal failure of Corporate Responsibility?


Could the recent Terminal 5 shambles be the result of a failure of Corporate Responsibility? Surely not. After all, British Airways and BAA are both platinum rated by Business in the Community.

No doubt some people won’t see the link to CR – they’ll say it’s just a case of poor leadership, management and co-ordination. But they’re missing the point: conducting business responsibly is part and parcel of strong leadership and good management today, predicated by the fact that getting things done often requires the support and co-operation of a variety of stakeholders, both inside and outside the organisation.

Whilst British Airways can’t be expected to shoulder all the blame for this particular debacle, it’s clear that the poor state of relationships with its key stakeholders is a major contributing factor.

In the past they’ve rarely been slow to point the finger at BAA for airport related failings. With various high profile arguments over landing fees and the like, this has meant the relationship between the two organisations is hardly harmonious.

Neither are relationships with its employees. After spates of industrial action over the last few years (remember Gate Gourmet?), it came as no surprise to hear employees phoning up the BBC to criticise management’s handling of the Terminal 5 opening.

As for the local community, whilst there are always going to be protests from residents and communities living near an airport, around Heathrow, these seem to be louder and more vociferous than most.

Last and by no means least, they’re clearly not satisfying customers either. Irrespective of the Terminal 5 shenanigans, going through Heathrow these days is an ordeal not to be taken lightly.

Yes, British Airways wins regular plaudits for its approach to Corporate Responsibility but, alas, this seems to have more to do with them pumping out huge volumes of information rather than providing any real substance.

Their materials are undoubtedly comprehensive and very professional, however there is more to CR communication than this. I can’t help thinking that better relationships between stakeholders – British Airways, BAA, employees, customers and the local community – could have prevented this whole mess.


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