Home furnishing giant IKEA has had some interesting times these past couple weeks. First, the company pulled the winning image of a social media photo competition because its Russian customers had voted for teenagers sitting in an IKEA showroom wearing colorful balaclavas, in the style of jailed political punk rockers P**** Riot.

Then came backlash against the Saudi Arabian version of its catalog because women had been Photoshopped out of several images. The latter reaction should not be surprising for a company based in Sweden, where women's rights are respected. According to the Wall Street Journal, a company spokeswoman said the move was in conflict with company values.

In a sprawling global operation it's not surprising that management errors such as this occur. But while cultural relativism may be savvy business when it comes to taste and fashion, it risks being seen as corporate irresponsibility once it pushes into political territory.

Perhaps this incident resonated with people because on a symbolic level being deleted or "disappeared" or made invisible has long been a criminal tactic of repressive regimes. The IKEA catalog is certainly not some revolutionary text where the future of Saudi human rights is decided, but perception is politics nonetheless. Why else would the Iranian regime use Photoshop to cover up a failed missile test?

On the brighter side, IKEA also announced that it would soon be selling only LED light bulbs, which are more efficient and longer lasting than compact fluorescents and conventional bulbs. Score one for reducing carbon emissions.

[PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Pehrson (CC).]

Views: 332

Tags: business, communication, culture, ethics, rights

Comment

You need to be a member of Global Ethics Network to add comments!

Join Global Ethics Network

Carnegie Council

A Case for Giving Climate Migrants Protected Legal Status

With climate change already affecting vast regions of the planet, Bard College's Brian Mateo makes the case for expanding legal protections for refugees to include people displaced due to environmental issues. Whether by updating the 1951 Convention or working on a new global agreement, Mateo writes that this an urgent human rights issue for vulnerable populations today and future generations.

Need for a New Consensus

Foreign policy experts are having diffuclty linking the negative implications of a shift towards trasactionalism for U.S. foreign aid to voters. This begs the question: Should there be a clear quid pro quo for U.S. assistance?

The End of the U.S.-Taliban Talks? with Jonathan Cristol

Despite progress over the last year, Donald Trump effectively ended the latest round of U.S.-Taliban negotiations with a tweet earlier this month. Will talks continue in a more understated way? Does this change anything on the ground in Afghanistan? And what is the Taliban doing in Moscow? Jonathan Cristol, author of "The United States and the Taliban before and after 9/11," discusses all this and more.

SUBSCRIBE TODAY

VIDEOS

SUPPORT US

GEO-GOVERNANCE MATTERS

© 2019   Created by Carnegie Council.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service


The views and opinions expressed in the media, comments, or publications on this website are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by Carnegie Council.