There are times when I want to take a hammer to my computer. Those are times when I read something that presents a position that I find either preposterous or dangerously misleading and off the mark. This is one of those times.
A press release containing the comments of Mark J Herlan, Owner of The Examiner, caught my eye (here). Mr. Herlan comments on an article that appears on eHow (What Are The Disadvantages of Corporate Social Responsibility?) that characterize CSR as a corporate activity that is a cost rather than a benefit to the corporation and a threat to the bottom line and the interests of shareholders.
But this thinking fails on several fronts. It fails because today’s customers reward companies that align with their values and they punish those that don’t by rewarding their competitors.
On Triple Pundit, author Joe Lawless the Executive Director of the Center for Leadership & Social Responsibility, in his article titled Why Should Your Business Should Care about Corporate Social Responsibility, is clear on this issue: “The debate about business and social responsibility is really a false debate. It assumes an either/or position that doesn’t exist. Business can be both profitable and socially responsible. This new age of free-flowing information is actually bringing about a reverse paradigm where those who are not socially responsible will not be profitable. The old, worn-out argument is that the only purpose of a business is to create value for its shareholders. This is the false argument: that profit maximization and social responsibility are mutually exclusive. They aren’t.”
Thinking that CSR and profit are mutually exclusive is a failure of imagination. It’s also a failure to understand the values that a large and growing percentage of consumers embody today and what is influencing their buying decisions. It’s a failure to see greater possibilities for new markets and new sources of profit.
Tom’s Shoes does it. Coca Cola, through its clean water initiative in Africa is doing it and so can any company that has the vision, the creativity and the will to develop products and markets that align with the needs of society.
If you think you can’t, you can’t. If you think you can, you will. If you do your company will create long-term sustainability. If you don’t, your competitors will.
By Maurice Bretzfield, Certified Business Mentor, SCORE NYC
Maurice Bretzfield is a SCORE NYC Certified Business Mentor with over twenty years of Digital Marketing experience.