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Out of Our Minds
Monday, March 21, 2005 12:09 PM
How Much Is Enough?
Kevin Salwen on Business

Very interesting post by Perry Goldschein examines what might be the hot-button issue in social responsibility: How much is enough and what should the standards be?

Every industry wrestles with the often competing claims of values and profit. Companies often claim they are something they're not. Other take them to task for not achieving perfection or peddling something we don't need (see Forbes's nasty piece about Whole Foods). Still others do some things well and others horribly (hybrids and SUVs).

As Robert Redford told us for the premiere issue of Worthwhile, he believes it's all about how hard companies try. What's your view?


gigabug - 3/22/2005 4:00:41 PM
If the question is, 'How much (social responsibility) is enough (to qualify for the term 'socialy responsible'), then the answer must lie in some measurable, repeatable value.

For example, in food labeling, the USDA requires that - in order for manufacturers to call a product 'blueberry pie' - they must put a minimum percentage of real blueberries into the filling. So, for a company to claim some attribute like 'socially responsible,' there needs to be a quantifiable measure of that company's commitment to the label.

Any fuzzy thinking here will result in the inevitable co-opting of the social responsibility issue by the greedy philistines of amerikan business. Social responsibility will become just another ad slogan without a consensus definition based on verifiable metrics.
DK - 3/21/2005 12:49:06 PM
Great post - the standards by which we determine 'how much is enough' is influenced by many factors: size of profit margin (obviously), 'footrpint' of brand, market positioning etc. - at the end of the day I don't think anyone will begrudge companies making a profit, the obvious question is how much are they giving back?

I think more responsibility has to go on the reporting of such initiatives by mainstream media - instead of jumping up and down (and all over) NIKE when they launch 'Considered' their 'environmentally friendly' shoes range why can't the focus be on smaller companies and brands such as Innocent Drinks and Howies who already pledge a percentage of their profits to community/environmental cuases.

Instead of questioning a companies social responsibility portfolio maybe we should be looking at their social transparency growth - another words, each year how much is this growing?

Then again, we all have to start somewhere, it's up to people like us to keep the issue on the corporate agenda...


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