John Krutilla '49
Retired resource and environmental economist, first winner of Sweden's Volvo Environment Prize
All Americans, being beneficiaries of a democracy, must acknowledge a primary responsibility for its support and enhancement. The business community, because it has ready access to the legislative, regulatory, enforcement, and other institutional modalities of governance, and the great benefits its members derive therefrom, should be especially mindful to keep its activities consistent with supporting and enhancing the institutional environment for the sake of all.
George Joseph '51
I have never been in business, and the business mentality is quite foreign to me. A recent letter in Consumer Reports said that "The single thing that makes America work is competition." If I understand that correctly, it reflects all too starkly the abandonment of the idea that a working society is more than the sum of its economic parts. However, it does fairly reflect the moral standard that has apparently become prevalent that economic success is all that counts. I will not accept that.
Robert Richter '52
Some of many ways business can be socially responsible: minimize environmental and public health hazards of products, provide complete information about these hazards in language of user country, limit top salaries/ benefits to not more than 10 times what lower paid workers receive (a common practice in western Europe).
Steve McCarthy '66
Much of what we think of as responsible behavior in business is really a self-imposed tax. My behavior toward employees, customers, suppliers, and regulatory governmental entities does not appear to confer any advantage in the marketplace. Businesses against which I compete engage in a spectrum of behaviors ranging from highly principled to marginal to reprehensible. My observation is that some crummy operators survive and even thrive, and some fail. The same applies to those of us who engage in all kinds of thoughtful, humane behavior. Those of us who engage in the "right" kinds of behavior must recognize it for what it is . . . something that costs money that we feel we must do.
Amelia Hard '67
I think all businesses need to be conscious of the effect that they have both on their own communities and on the world community. They need consciously to renounce all activities and policies that harm people or land either locally or on the other side of the globe. As an anti-poverty activist, I feel that social conscience in business starts with creating social good in the workplace: living wages, supportive policies (inclusive decision-making, generous benefits, flexible hours), and an atmosphere of mutual consideration.