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"Corporate Social Responsibility is not anti-capitalistic, says Chief Executive"

Okay, let me just step back from that and laugh a little.. I'll skip right to the main quote, which runs as follows:

"In business we invest in our assets. Why shouldn’t we invest in society, in our communities and our people in a way that brings returns from doing so?"

I'm mostly dwelling on the whole "society" and "communities" part of it.. In which case, here's a few reasons that that's anti-Capitalistic:

1. No measurable return on investment.
If you 'invest' in society, the return is intangible. Without any sort of control, it would be impossible to measure the impact of your investment, and thus you could not draw any conclusions about how effective it had been. Thus it is bad business sense to do it.

2. Win-Win is Lose-Lose
Economically speaking, the increase in value of a company has to outpace the increase in value of the economy in general in order for that company to succeed. If you double every company's profits, then you haven't actually won anything, because the economy has doubled, and inflation will move to correct that. Success is about beating other people, not just doing better, because the standards against which you are measured are subject to change.

Ultimately, the only responsibility of a company is to provide maximum return on investment to its shareholders. I don't agree with that, you understand, but I recognise that this is how the world works. A company whose leadership doesn't seek to maximise return is likely to have its senior management replaced with people who will.

The only circumstances where CSR really works is if you invest in a neighbourhood where your company has a proportionally larger stake than your competitors. In doing so, your investment would benefit you more than competitors, which is a necessity (as I already explained). But then this isn't social responsibility - this is self interest, and the social responsibility is incidental.

It's for similar reasons that when our employee engagement survey comes around, I always score us low on "I believe the company is truly committed to customer satisfaction", because I don't believe we are. I believe we're committed to it, certainly, but our true commitment is to increasing shareholder value. People need to stop kidding themselves into thinking that public companies can do good for society.. I mean sure, a few good employees here and there can make compassionate decisions, etc.. But at an executive level a company can only do good for themselves, that's how it works. Coporate social responsibility stops at taxes.


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