All the well-intentioned corporate responsibility bromides aside (think, “doing well by doing good”, etc.) it often just comes down to this:
“What’s the right thing to do?”
It gets personal, individual, tapping into:
Conscience. Ethics. Empathy. Character. Culture. Family values. Soul.
Any one of these can be a tie-beaker when the choices are tough. When “shareowner and stakeholder primacies” collide. When a business leader must take a possibly controversial stand on a social issue.
Now comes some help: The new Financial Times “Moral Money” weekly newsletter, reporting and analyzing “the fast-expanding world of socially responsible, sustainable finance, impact investing, environmental, social and governance ESG …” (Yes, The Financial Times).
In this week’s edition, “Moral Money” covers these stories:
“Climate firebrand puts heat on impact investors” (Greta Thunberg).
“Bonds start to offer more shades of green”
“Insulin maker Novo Nordisk walks moral tightrope”
This week, two quite different approaches to such soul- searching:
Edward W. Stack, Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO:
“So many people say to me, you know, ‘If we do what you want to do, it’s not going to stop these mass shootings. And my response is: ‘You’re probably right. It won’t. But if we do these things and it saves one life, don’t you think it’s worth it?”
Mr. Silver, in his role as commissioner of the well-endowed National Basketball Association, in the ongoing free-speech controversy between an executive of the N.B.A. Houston Rockets and China explaining his decision not to penalize the executive who expressed support for Hong Kong demonstrators:
“I’m sympathetic to our interests here and our partners that are upset. I don’t think it’s inconsistent on one hand to be sympathetic to them and at the same time stand by our [free speech] principles.
Admittedly, very different circumstances. Nevertheless,these were not easy choices for Mr. Stack or Mr. Silver. Nor were any of the many other recent social-issue decisions made business leaders.
But ultimately, there is this:
Tevey in “A Fiddler’s Roof” –
“On the one hand …
“On the other hand….
“On the one hand …
On the other hand … …. Well, there is no other hand.”