Catalyst Conversation: Corporate Social ResponsibilityFeb 15

Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility

Recent events have shown that  difficult decisions are made by companies to protect the safety of their customers despite the financial loses that those companies may incur in the short term. In the wake of the Toyota recall which may cost tremendous financial loss, the Global Catalyst Group reflects on similar situations and the leadership decisions behind each case.

Friedman states: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” Friedman (1962, 1970)

Over the past decade, the conversation on corporate social responsibility has changed dramatically, so GCG asks the fundamental question, what is the responsibility of companies to stakeholders and the broader public? Case studies included the Toyota recall of 2010 and the Tylenol recall of 1982.

Guiding questions that GCG has answered during this discussion include, what responsibility do companies and corporate leaders have towards the safety of consumers; where does one draw the line between losing profits or market share and the decisions to protect consumers; what role does shareholders play in holding companies and corporate leaders accountable; and how do we define corporate responsibility under the new leadership?

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