One can be forgiven for being confused about corporate social responsibility. In the January 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review, some really smart people are questioning whether the Porter/Kramer model of identifying social aspects of your value chain is the right way to go. In what feels like a pandering-to-the-CEO kind of article, the authors say that there's a continuum of social impacts, so whatever CSR you do is fine as long as it's coordinated. And also, please pay our consulting company some money to coordinate it for you.
Poor Milton Friedman. The Nobel Prize-winning economist and Chicago-school anti-Keynesian had a lot of good ideas, and was unmatched at explaining complex economic theories in a way that non-economists could understand. But he keeps getting yanked out of his grave and waved at anybody who even hints that business might have some responsibility to society.
Often I will be talking to someone about charitable giving, and they will express frustration that, "it's just one thing after another. We keep giving money to treat the symptoms, but never really address the root cause." Or, with more funder jargon, "we only fund transformative projects."
While I understand not wanting to waste precious donations, I usually counter with this analogy: Saying that you don't want to donate to a food pantry because those people just get hungry again tomorrow is just like saying that you want to eliminate emergency rooms because those people will just keep having heart attacks and getting into car accidents.
The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce asked us to present a webinar on Corporate Social Responsibility. If you have 20 minutes or so, the video replay is now available!
Yesterday, Whole Foods Market Inc. announced that the firm is replacing five of its board members, likely in response to pressure from it’s second largest shareholder, Jana Partners LLC. Whole Foods stock has been underperforming, having lost roughly half its value since it’s 2013 peak of $65 per share. It’s enough to make one wonder if maybe this whole corporate social responsibility thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Throughout Las Vegas, Hugh Anderson is known as a tireless advocate for nonprofits. He has served on numerous boards throughout Southern Nevada. Hugh credits some of his success directly to his charitable activities, but not in the way you might think. We talked to Hugh about his experiences with charity boards, and how that has affected his business.