Sunday, June 17, 2007

Corporate Response

After about one month, and a follow up e-mail message, I received a corporate response on my company's position on sustainable business/CSR. From what I can gather, there is little to nothing in the "corporate mindset" about the topic. There is nothing "bad" about this, just a reflection of where many corporations are. I am confident that I am working for a corporation that has the best intentions and motivations. We just need to cast the net wider in terms of what issues to include in long-term strategic planning.

These are comments I have read in many corporate reports:
  • {Company Name} states its commitment to environmental responsibility, employee safety, and health through its Code of Conduct.
  • {Company Name} has no other statements of policy on these matters at the corporate level.
  • Some {Company Name} divisions have made additional statements on these matters in their local markets, based on requirements or customs in those local markets.

This is compliance rhetoric, again, not something that is illegal or even considered immoral, but is it? Compliance in the best interest of the public depends upon regulations that are made in the best interest of the public. Given the historical unpredictability of "good" regulations, we will all be better served by market-based mechanisms that encourage corporate actions in the best interest of the health of society. This depends upon the redesign of our system of commerce such that resources are not taken, manipulated, and wasted (stolen from future generations) while degrading the natural environment which is the producer of the resources we extract.

This is what I found printed in the user's manual for one of the products:

Correct Disposal of the Unit: When the {product} is finally removed from service, observe all local environmental regulations for proper disposal.

In essence, the producer is renouncing any responsibility for what happens to the product it created and sold. Why is this OK? If a corporation is recognized legally as a person, shouldn't it have some of the same responsibilities? If I have a dog, and that dog bites someone, I'm liable. If a company creates a pollutant and causes damage to people and places, shouldn't it be held responsible? See the previous comments on regulations. In some countries, and states in the USA, this is becoming much more difficult.

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