What responsibility has businesses to society?
Now that this a fact that is generally accepted that businesses have a responsibility to society beyond making a profit for shareholders. The benefits of this can be seen in the corporations that are deemed to be socially responsible, who are rewarded with the most satisfied customers, while irresponsibility is punished with undesirable customer actions, such as boycotts. A 2008 survey, conducted by ‘The Economist’ discovered that over 50% of the worlds business leaders main reason to employ CSR practices is “having a better brand reputation”. Additionally, corporations with a world-renowned brand can be driven more toward a socially responsible practice by consumer pressure. Most notably being Nike, attempting to change their brand image after the release of their sweatshop scandal in the 1970s, and still occurs to this day.
These points are good reasons for corporations to undertake socially responsible practices. However, Friedman does not argue the validity of such practices, but rather believes that they are merely out self-interest, meaning they are not CSR, but plainly just profit-maximisation “under the clock of social responsibility”. Although this may be true, it primarily depends on the main motivations of the decision maker. Therefore, it is whether profit or altruism is the primary reason for undertaking socially responsible actions, rather than whether profit is consequently achieved through social actions. However, determining the motives of corporations can be near enough impossible.