Business ethics

Examining the Leadership of McKinsey


Eran Zimmerman tackles the issue of corporate responsibility and the involvement of McKinsey in the Oxycontin scandal. 

When I was a young McKinsey associate, 19 years ago, I was taught that while the amount of good any single member could produce for the Firm was limited, each one of us had the capacity for causing almost unlimited damage to the famed McKinsey brand. That piece of ancient Mckinsey wisdom came back to me while I was reading a NY Times article published Nov. 27 2020, airing McKinsey’s role in the horrendous crime of marketing opioids to millions of Americans.

The damage to human lives seemed indeed limitless. I figured that Purdue’s aggressive marketing of OxyContin was perhaps (bar the East India Company’s decision to expand into India) the single most harmful business decision by a corporation ever. The Times recounts in disturbing detail the work of two McKinsey senior hands in abetting and fostering Purdue’s disastrous activity. It appeared to me that through vigorously promoting this crime against humanity, these senior consultants have come close to producing that much feared lethal blemish on the great McKinsey name.

I only spent a relatively short time with the Firm, yet I always took pride in my illustrious alumni family. I therefore felt all the more disappointed and ashamed from discovering McKinsey’s involvement in this scandal, which for many epitomizes the derailment of Western capitalism: unbridled greed, disregard for human life and wellbeing and interference with regulators’ attempts to protect ordinary people from large corporations – all going almost completely unpunished. 


Key points in this article include:

  • McKinsey’s involvement in the scandal
  • When lives lost become “events”
  • Ethical leadership


Read the full article, Open letter to McKinsey from alum on Firm’s involvement in OxyContin scandal, on LinkedIn. 


What Are the Mining Industry’s Responsibilities during COVID-19


Zaheera Soomar presents an article based on the results of a recent conference on corporate responsibility for health and safety in mining. 

I recently presented at the DRC Mining Week Digital Event on a new “modus operandi” for health and safety in mining. There was some good dialogue and I have had multiple follow ups and conversations since on an organization’s responsibility. Thought it would be good to share some views on this.

In the past few weeks alone there have been various health and safety incidents in the news. Despite the extractives and industrials industries existing for centuries, with focus on health and safety and a host of advanced H&S measures in place, people are still getting injured and dying. Covid-19 has certainly added its own sets of challenges to the mix, with mining companies having to make decisions on keeping mines open, having minimal operational presence and ensuring the safety of those that continue to work. One of the main implications that faced the mining companies was health and safety in general of their employees and host communities, and whether it’s a factor of their mining operations or not – but more importantly – what their duty is at this time. Despite what we all might hope for – this is not a one off: there will no doubt be other phenomena and risks as the global operating environment becomes more volatile with increased risks relating to climate change, pandemics etc. As a result, mining and other companies are re evaluating their role around health and safety, not just from an employer perspective, but from a human rights and ethical perspective!


Included in this article:

  • Responsibility to employees
  • Responsibility to stakeholders
  • Responsibility to community


Read the full article, Rethinking health and safety in Mining – what is an organization’s responsibility?, on LinkedIn.