Does It Matter if Corporate Responsibility is a Sham?

According to this article from NPR’s Planet Money, there are some interesting effects when it comes to social good and business.  Some may be cynical about it, because it turns out (say it isn’t so!) that it can often come down to the profit motive of the business.  Businesses can make more money if they look good.  In short, corporate responsibility is selling.

But does that matter?  I would argue not.  It would seem to me that as consumers care more about social/environmental/etc. issues that they are voting with their wallets.  The end result being market forces pushing corporations to be more conscious of these things.

This reminds me of how in the last several years a flood of female protagonists are in a lot of recent movies (Ghostbusters, Captain Marvel, Dark Phoenix).  It’s easy to say something like “Well, it’s only because the movie studios have discovered that it is selling right now.”  Or, “It’s long overdue, and they still are portrayed as [insert criticism here].”

But – on the other hand – if one’s goal or desire was to see more of something like that, would the end not justify the means?

One could make the argument that it’s all a facade – and I’m sure in some cases it is – but isn’t some improvement better than none?  Bottom line is: if there are issues you care about, try to do business with companies that also care about it.  I think this article shows that incremental change of this kind does work.  And I’m a firm believer that incremental change is more lasting in society, it’s not pretty or quick or easily-legislatable, but the pushback is spread out over time.

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