Can a business be a financial success and also be valuable to society? Is there a conflict between looking after shareholders and looking after stakeholders more generally? Is it ethical to outsource production to low-wage countries where working conditions are vastly inferior to those in the US?
These are topical and pressing issues, of concern to most corporations and to many in the political and Non-Governmental worlds. They are also the main focus of “Business and Society.” It is an interactive discussion-based and case-based course that looks at examples of companies that have succeeded in doing well (financially) and doing good (for society). We also hear from practitioners who are wrestling with these issues in their business lives, ranging from executives of large corporations and non-profits to CEOs of start-ups focusing on the social venture space.
The picture that emerges from the course is that “doing well” (financially) and “doing good” (for society and stakeholders) can be made compatible. There are many examples of companies that do both – that meet demanding ethical standards and add immense value for all stakeholders, while being amongst the most profitable in their industries and giving a great return to investors . In the course we try to understand why this is, and what distinguishes these companies from others. When are these two goals compatible, and how can a company go about reconciling them?