Robert Richter '52
Award-winning documentary film maker, named to the Global 500 Roll of Honor by the U.N. Environment Program
First I refer you and Reed to several documentaries on this subject that I have made over a number of years. If you have not seen the fliers about them let me know and I will mail them to you.
Now for my 50-word max response:
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 (common practice in western Europe).
More comments beyond the 50-word max:
Business can open or expand job opportunities in economically depressed areas, provide child care to employees, equal pay for equal work, bi-lingual job training to local unemployed. They can support community initiatives to improve social conditions of the community (educational, recreational, family resources). They can stop supporting soft money campaign contributions that have increasingly distorted the democratic processes. At their and their share holders' expense they can clean up the sites they have polluted. They can concentrate future development on products that are environmentally cleaner as well as profitable.
John S. Weber '78
The Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Programs
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Living in the Bay Area, I can see a mind-boggling amount of wealth being "created" in the current, internet-driven digital economy. But that wealth needs to be shared, and I don't see that happening yet on the scale that is necessary. If the current boom doesn't benefit the whole society through funding for stronger public schools, affordable housing, workable transit systems, vibrant cultural resources, and jobs that pay living wages in all economic strata, we're not going to be in good shape, now or in the future. Right now we're heading toward a scenario of increasingly ruthless divisions between haves and have-nots in the United States and the world, and it isn't a pleasant prospect. Businesses need to realize that this scenario is really not in their longterm interest and start to do something about it.
Lafcadio Cortesi '84
Coordinator of the biodiversity campaign for Greenpeace Pacific and senior project officer for BSP Kendla, a project of US Aid
Definitely businesses should be run with a conscience toward social responsibility. To me what that means is that businesses don't wait for the marketplace to lead them into being socially responsible, but actually take a leadership role in both demonstrating and articulating how business can contribute to the improvement of society. I think the first step in that is to have a look at their activities and see what kind of impacts they do have and also go through a process of identifying what values, both they as a group and as a stakeholder in society, what values they feel need to be enhanced or nurtured in society, and that can often happen through dialog with other groups, and especially that they start to change the business philosophy so that their raison d'ątre is not solely maximization of profit, but in fact when they look at their bottom line, that they measure their success not only in terms in profit, but that they have started to mover toward their goals, so what happens is that businesses grow and support and demonstrate those goals. For example, it might be transparency-having information about how their business operates, and in doing that, they also provide a way to asses how purchases and so forth affect society, and start to take responsibility for those and start to make choices that move toward their goals. The key point is for this notion that businesses should not hide behind the excuse of waiting until the market dictates they go in a certain direction. I'm very keen on building community, buying locally, environmental values, and trying to make sure that a business does not destroy the environment. Another one is how they deal with their business partners, and looking at in their interventions or in their activities how they can make sure that the things that they do are not undermining the capacity of a group of people living in a particular place to work together to live together in a way that is caring, nit just for themselves, but for the wider group, and take ownership and responsibility.