Thursday, May 4, 2006

3 More Books on Corporate Social Responsibility

PMAP Newsletter
May, 2006
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

MANAGING FOR THE LONG RUN: Lessons in competitive advantage from great family businesses
By Danny Miller & Isabelle Le Breton-Miller
Harvard Business School Press

By Steven Lyndenberg
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

THE PEOPLE BUSINESS: Controlling corporations and restoring democracy
By Lee Drutman & Charlie Cray
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Hallmark. Walmart. Bechtel Group. Levi Strauss. IKEA. Nordstrom. S.C. Johnson. Estee Lauder. L.L. Bean. Cargill. Michelin. The New York Times Company. Coors Brewing Company.

These companies are known mostly as successful family businesses. A not so known fact is that they also generously make social contributions and connect to the inside and outside communities.

Based on an in-depth, multiyear research study, the Millers draw from the experiences of family-run firms to reveal four unorthodox business priorities that any firm, family or not, can use to drive successful strategies:

• Take command: Act as an unfettered steward rather than a servant to shareholders
• Ensure continuity: pursue a lasting mission of substance, not a dollar-driven strategy
• Create a community: nurture a caring collective, not a tournament
• Build connections: secure generous relationships with outsiders instead of one-shot bargains.

These organizations attribute their success to being a good neighbor and partner to their employees, suppliers, clients, value-chain partners, providers of capital and the larger community. These winning organizations build cohesive, gung-ho community of employees. They have kept their people on during recessions, depression and war, when revenues were abysmal.

Likewise, they are benevolent business partners to their suppliers, co-contractors and financiers. They are meticulously honest in their dealings and, many times, deliver more than promised.

They also connect to the market via the socially responsible image they create. They give back to the community that has treated them so well and they view this as an obligation, not as a favor. They do philanthropic or pro bono community work because they believed it was the right thing to do.

In the end, these responsive and solicitous organizations reap untold advantages such as enhanced image of responsible citizenship that brings in clients, public support and eager superior job applicants; more loyal partners with whom they have useful interchange of privileged information that can be a basis for further business; access to resources and business; and many more.

As Earl of My Name is Earl on Jack TV would say, “Do good and good things happen. Do bad and it will come back to haunt you.”

Author Steven Lyndenberg writes that the shifting of assets and power from government to business has led to shift in the public’s expectations of what both government and corporations should do. This shift has also led to unemployment, labor unrest, disparities between the rich and poor created by the markets and their regular cycles of boom and bust. In the past, the proven solution was government supervision, but governments today can not easily return to many of the forms of ownership, price regulation, and direct market control that they have recently abandoned. Thereby, government needs to create new mechanisms to protect certain basic public interests.

There is now a growing interest in socially responsible investing (SRI) and corporate social responsibility (CSR). SRI and CSR are the new invisible guiding hand in the marketplace that operate at the intersections of market value and societal values, profits and wealth, self-interests and public concerns. “But only a concerted effort by government—with the active support of investors, consumers, workers, the general public, and corporations themselves—can bring them into being. Bringing this about will require new data, new organizations to analyze that data, public debate about the data’s significance, and the creation of consequences flowing from this analysis and debate.”

Currently, millions of immigrants, legal or illegal, workers in the USA are making headway forcing US Congress to heed their demand for their right to work and live in the USA.

Authors Drutman and Cray write that The People’s Business is about what ordinary citizens can do to curtail corporate power. They consider a wide spectrum of approaches—from fundamental shifts in how corporations are created and operate, to minor adjustments in corporate governance and regulatory fixes that directly address specific harms.

The authors speak to growing societal concerns about corporate power. They present a vision of society in which the rights of individuals are more important than the rights of corporations, in which generating public prosperity is the driving purpose of corporations, and in which the values of human dignity and community are more sacred than the corporate drumbeat of financial profit above all else. More importantly, they provide a guide to creating a sustainable society where we, the people, have the power.

If our people power toppled the governments of Messrs Marcos and Estrada, we could surely bring down business organizations that are callous and inimical to public interests and the society’s good. The HR professionals and managers could definitely influence their company in becoming better citizens before the people flex their power.


By Deborah E. Bouchoux

BE YOUR OWN BRAND: A breakthrough formula for standing out from the crowd
By David McNally &U Karl D. Speak
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

NO! How one simple word can transform your life
By Jana Kemp

By Alan M. Perlman, Ph.D.
The McGraw-Hill Companies

By Paul Falcone
The McGraw-Hill Companies