We wrapped up this week with another case on Corporate Social Responsibility. Once again there was a great deal of debate. Was the company genuine about providing environmental benefit? Or was it just looking to improve its image and, hence, its returns? If the latter, did it matter so long as the environmental benefit was realized? What is the purpose of a business? Should it try to satisfy all the stakeholders? Or should it focus on profits (a focus for which it is very efficient) and rely on its government to regulate it? Or should its consumers, suppliers, and employees “market regulate” it by not buying from, selling to, or working for it unless it acts in “good” interest?
These are tough questions and I don’t have an “optimal” answer worked out in my head yet. I continue to wrestle with the question of what is the best model. I love the double- and triple-bottom-line ideas but even they are problematic: how do you measure social and environmental benefit when weighing against easily measurable financial benefit? My inclination is to regard with skepticism unsustainable businesses that just kick off some money to CSR. Businesses that grow out of inherently sustainable ideas, however, are something else. When sustainability goes along with profitability instead of detracting from it, then we’ve got something that really works. But can every business be independently sustainable? If not, how can we ensure that those that aren’t sustainable are balanced by “surpluses” from those that are?
These questions have some impact on my job search as well. I sent in my first two applications yesterday to GE Energy. Their renewables segment is growing by leaps and bounds and I’m interested to learn more about it. Furthermore, such a large, global corporation could be an excellent platform on which to work toward my goal of helping to change the world. Or it could be bureaucratic, inefficient, and stymying at every turn. We’ll see!
While working on industry/company research and cover letters I have been making my way through my music collection in alphabetical order by artist. AC/DC, Air Supply, Alice in Chains, and Anne Murray were last week. I just finished B.B. King yesterday and am now listening to all of the Beatles’ albums in chronological order. Such good music! And the weather is gorgeous today so I’ll have to take a break from career strategy for some beach volley later on.
Oh and one more thing: Michael Phelps is a hoss. I’m waking up at 4 AM tomorrow to watch him [hopefully] go 8/8 in Olympic golds. What an inspiration.