Unveiling human rights lessons from classic Greek dramas

Article at Business Partners Magazine by Alcibiades Siaravas, Marketing, Communications & Corporate Citizenship Manager, KPMG in Greece

Article at Business Partners Magazine: From Alcibiades Siaravas, Marketing, Communications

In the realm of corporate ethics and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) responsibility, one might not immediately turn to the ancient world of Greek tragedies and comedies. However, delving into the timeless narratives of playwrights like Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes reveals profound human rights lessons that echo through the ages.

Justice and fair treatment: The Greek tragedies often grappled with themes of justice and the fair treatment of individuals. Antigone, by Sophocles, exemplifies the clash between personal conscience and state law. The tragic heroine, Antigone, chooses to bury her brother against the king's decree, illustrating the importance of standing up for what is morally right, even in the face of unjust laws. In a corporate context, respecting the dignity and rights of individuals, regardless of hierarchical structures, is a fundamental ESG principle.

Equality and inclusion: Aristophanes, a master of comedic theater, used humor to critique societal norms. In "Lysistrata," he addresses gender inequality and war by having women withhold sexual privileges until men agree to peace. This satirical take underscores the need for gender equality and inclusion in modern corporate environments. ESG initiatives should strive for workplace equality, recognizing that diversity fosters innovation and sustainable growth.

Ethical leadership: The tragedies of Aeschylus often explore the consequences of unchecked power. "Agamemnon" reflects on the ethical responsibilities of leaders, emphasizing the detrimental effects of excessive pride and the importance of humility. In the business world, ethical leadership is a cornerstone of ESG practices, advocating for transparency, accountability, and a commitment to ethical decision-making.

Community and collaboration: Greek dramas frequently portrayed the strength derived from community bonds. "Oedipus Rex" by Sophocles depicts a community grappling with a plague and the necessity of collective action. This resonates with the modern ESG perspective, emphasizing the interconnectedness of businesses with their communities. Companies committed to ESG values actively engage with and contribute to the well-being of the communities in which they operate.

Human dignity and empathy: Euripides' tragedies often explored the human condition and the capacity for empathy. In "The Trojan Women," he highlights the plight of war's victims, emphasizing the need for compassion and respect for human dignity. ESG initiatives, particularly the "S" in ESG, call for businesses to prioritize social factors, including human rights, worker welfare, and community well-being.

In conclusion, the insights gleaned from classic Greek dramas provide a timeless guide for contemporary ESG professionals. Just as the ancient playwrights addressed fundamental aspects of the human experience, today's ESG leaders can draw inspiration from these lessons to foster a corporate culture rooted in justice, equality, ethical leadership, community collaboration, and a profound respect for human rights. The echoes of ancient wisdom reverberate through the corridors of modern ESG practices, urging us to uphold the principles that transcend the sands of time.