Some maritime wisdom for your business


Being at sea for long periods of time gives people a chance to reflect. Sometimes this reflection leads to wisdom.

I want to discuss 3 maritime mantras in the Social Responsibility context.

  1. If you think safety is expensive, try having an accident.

In business, we need our reputation and bottom line to be safe.

However, we now live in the world where a scandal can go viral within minutes and seriously damage both.

Investing in your community, looking after your employees and cleaning up your business operations may be expensive but the cost of not doing it may be even higher. If you’ve been in a storm in the ocean, you won’t question the need for safety twice.

2. Always help people who are in danger at sea.

It is enshrined in international law [1] and in the soul of all those who spend time at sea.

Having grown up around ports, my impression is that most people there wouldn’t think twice before rushing to help someone who is drowning. Maybe because if they don’t help, no one else will. Or maybe, deep inside, they know that it could have been them.

Being in a position to rescue someone is always a great privilege.

3. ‘The High Seas should be reserved for peaceful purposes’[2]

Land should be reserved for peaceful purposes too. If there is something you just won’t tolerate, say it. If enough companies say it, even the worst suppliers will begin to change. Whatever the ‘purpose’ of your business may be, reducing harm in the way you operate, can buy a little peace of mind. That’s got to be worth something.

Some wisdom stands whether you are ruling the waves, or sitting in a slightly overheated boardroom. So consider being more serious about threats, eager to help those in danger, and uncompromising on your purpose – who knows who you might rescue in the process.

[1] Article 98 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982

[2] Article 88 of the UNCLOS 1982


Oil on canvas. Olga Ivannikova, 2014

#csr #corporatesocialresponsibility #csrwisdom

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