Why Corporate Social Responsibility is BS | Robert Reich

MeIn recent years, “corporate social responsibility” has been seen by some as the answer to multiple failures of capitalism. CEOs have responded to all kinds of problems, including worsening climate change, growing inequality, and rising health care costs. Companies are committed to “social responsibility” and are committed to paving the way for solutions.

Of this, 98% is garbage. The CEO does nothing that would hurt your bottom line. They aim to make as much money as possible, not to solve social problems.

In fact, real social change will prevent them from doing much of the very beneficial things they are doing now.That is, they will not change their way unless they are. Required by law Change (and still only if the probability of being caught by the penalty is higher than the benefit of continuing anyway). The soothing promises of their social responsibility are aimed at preventing such laws.

I saw this repeatedly. When I was Secretary of Labor, big companies violated the laws on worker safety, wages, time and pensions, which were cheaper than complying with the law. And they will fight such laws like hell in the first place-all the while telling the public what wonderful citizens they are.

Recall August 2019, the Business Roundtable, one of Washington’s most prestigious corporate groups. board CEOs of Apple, Walmart, and JPMorgan sit – issued a widely published statement expressing their “basic commitment” to happiness.all “Stakeholders” such as employees, communities, environment, etc. (emphasized in the original text).

This statement was widely welcomed as an indication of a new era of corporate social responsibility.

Since then, the Roundtable and its members have been dedicated to childcare, pre-kindergarten, affordable healthcare provision, community college and workforce training, poverty alleviation, climate change reversal, and more. We are continuously issuing statements.

These turned out to be just the priorities of Joe Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion settlement bill. But what do you guess? Business roundtables are not lobbying the bill.Lobbying violently Against that.

Public Relations Jessica Boulanger, Told the Washington Post The roundtable is working on an “important, multifaceted campaign” to thwart the tax increase that will fund the bill and will “continue to strengthen our efforts in the coming weeks.” The group has launched a 7-digit digital advertising campaign to oppose the bill.

hypocrisy? Only if you believe in Roundtable BS about Corporate Social Responsibility. Social responsibility is hated if companies know the truth that they can do whatever they can to maximize profits and share value. There is nothing surprising here.

Why didn’t the corporate group fight the president’s infrastructure bill? This is because government spending on infrastructure improves profitability by reducing the cost of procuring supplies and bringing goods to market. Social responsibility had nothing to do with it.

You’ll want to chalk all of this to “corporate greed.” But that only makes sense if you think the company can handle emotions such as greed. They are not. No matter what the Supreme Court says, a company is not a person. They are a bunch of contracts.

The specific people who make those contracts (for big companies, and for the thousands of people who run huge investment funds for millions of shareholders) are neither greedy nor socially responsible. They are simply doing what they understand to be their job. These transactions have washed away greed and social responsibility.

If you want to change these transactions, that is, to be more consistent with your public needs than your private interests, you need to change the law. For example, in order to fund public investment and safety nets, taxes on large corporations need to be raised.

But if businesses continue to spend huge amounts of money on politics, such legislation will not change. Corporate spokespersons like Boulanger at the Business Roundtable, along with a platoon of corporate lobbyists, along with influential merchants, corporate lawyers, hired gun economists, corporate political operatives, and PR flakes, are virtually It forms the fourth branch of the government and exercises enormous and growing power. About one in four people currently working in downtown Washington plays one of these roles.

The result is clear. The most notable trend in the last three decades has been an increase in economic share that is profitable for businesses, creating higher compensation packages for top executives and large investors (all living in equities). ) Is producing higher salaries than ever before. And the decline in market share goes to most Americans as wages and salaries.

Meaningless anger at “corporate social responsibility” aims to hide these trends. Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion plan aims to reverse them.

But big companies are doing their best to thwart Biden’s plans. The only way to stop this sabotage is to ignore all references to corporate social responsibility and make a fuss to uphold the law to reduce the power of big bucks in Biden’s plans and politics.

Why Corporate Social Responsibility is BS | Robert Reich

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