Against Milton Friedman: |
An Argument for Corporate Social Responsibility |
Newell Hampson-Jones |
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been considered for a long time a trend that arrived when Generation X entered the workforce and became a stronger consumer presence in corporate America. Arguments about the role of business in society have raged as companies subscribe to looking at methods to minimise the need for CSR or for ways to turn social responsibility in to a factor of profit making. Whilst some believe that CSR is a distraction that stops businesses performing to their potential and crippling the economy, I firmly believe that an effective CSR policy, coupled with efficient marketing and business strategy could help a business grow to larger profits whilst also benefitting society at large.
Milton Friedman is one of the architects of the movement against social responsibility, writing what is considered by many the seminal piece of work disparaging CSR and the businesses who promoting their CSR credentials, saying,
“Businessmen who talk this way are unwitting puppets of intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.”
(Friedman, 1970, p1)
Friedman’s general belief was that only people can have responsibilities, not businesses, and the people who are hired by business owners have a responsibility primarily to their employers, to meet their desires which in most cases are profits. Friedman recognises that an individual can have perceived responsibilities in areas away from the business, but says of this:
“If we wish we can refer to some of these responsibilities as ‘social responsibilities.’ But in these respects he is acting as a principal not an agent; he is spending his own money or time or energy, not the money of his employers or the time and energy he has contracted to devote to their purposes. If these are ‘social responsibilities,’ they are the social...