Business, Government And Society Essay

920 words - 4 pages

Nicky Oppeheimer (N.O.) in 14 pages stated what Donne, years before him, stated in 9 lines: no man is an island; we are all responsible for each other. N.O. speaks about a company’s responsibility to society as being about more than increasing profits. Whether profits are increased or not, he argues that companies have a moral obligation to better the living conditions of the societies within which they operate. And indeed, if one person is able to make a difference, imagine what a single company- with access to more resources, more manpower, and above all, more funds- could do for the community. Being a successful corporate citizen is about more than writing a cheque: companies must ...view middle of the document...

A large proportion of these people share the views of Milton Friedman and are of the mind that as long as a company is maximizing profits within the boundaries of the law, it is fulfilling its social responsibility. The all-encompassing view (such as that of Nicky Oppenheimer) understands that a business has to find a balance. Embedded into the leaders of these companies is an understanding that the workers employed by them are hired from these communities, the people who purchase their products live in these communities, the infrastructure necessary for daily operation has to be present in order to produce the desired product, and a safe environment has to exist in order for people to come to work and focus on the job at hand. While profits and accountability are important, one cannot place a price on an ethical or moral decision and sometimes profits must be sacrificed for the greater good.

Ethical custom
Corporates are seen to have a responsibility towards their shareholders- but what of society at large? It is no secret that the “principled” business person is an unusual creature, not often seen and very rarely heard. Integrity can increase or reduce profits. As consumers become more aware of the companies they are supporting, a lack of integrity and concern for the community in which a company operates can cause customers to switch to a rival product. A reputation can be destroyed in a matter of days- a far shorter amount of time than it takes to be built up. Corporates have to be spear-headed by people with a clear sense of right and wrong, if this mentality is to spread through an organisation.

Business is expected to abide by existing laws. However, as Anglo (with Harry Oppenheimer at the spear) did, individuals...

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