Sara Nichols '83
California director, Neighbor to Neighbor

Although Americans have always valued wealth, the accumulation of disproportionate wealth beyond one's needs used to be a social evil. A socially responsible business would profit, but not profiteer. As consumers we should support businesses when they provide quality jobs that pay a living wage, and protect the environment.

Sam Hagerman '88
President, Portland's Hammer in Hand construction company

I think it is two-fold: one is the internal social responsibility toward its employees, is the workplace fair and supportive, and the second would be the company's position in the community-are you part of the community, do you care about the issues, are you involved. We call it social responsibility, but it's a technique to get good people in a competitive marketplace. We do a lot of volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity, the MS society. We do the same thing for Sisters of the Road Cafe. I think local is where it has the most impact. If you are doing it right, then social responsibility is making your own life better.

Molly Franks '97
Youth program coordinator at the Bradley-Angle House, a domestic violence shelter

With our current state of global ultra-capitalism, social responsibility is regarded as antithetical to "good business." But the bottom line may be that we must sacrifice higher profits to offer ample employee benefits and pollute less and offer services to under-served groups. Social responsibility is not something we can justifiably compartmentalize into a flashy charitable donation or an hour of volunteer work a week. It must permeate every aspect of our lives and organizations from purchases to hiring processes to investments.

Jennifer Cassandra Esquibel '00
Senior, political science major

While capitalism can be said to have its benefits, I think it is also important to recognize that a free market does have some limits, particularly those due to increasing scarcity of natural resources. The earth should be respected and kept clean, if not only for its own sake or ourselves, then for posterity. Along with ecological concerns, I also think that businesses should operate with a conscious effort to provide decent wages, benefits, and community support.

Brian Flock '00
Senior, political science major

It is incumbent upon business in a modern society to not only pay attention to their bottom line, but to give back to the communities in which they operate. To do business in a socially conscious manner requires those with the greatest amount of resources to, in all cases, ensure that at least some of those resources are used for the betterment of humankind.

Compiled and edited by Stephanie Galvani '00

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