Hey Apple and Chipotle: Get Real About Corporate Social Responsibility!
Have you heard about last week's annual investor meeting for Apple? Head honcho Tim Cook told investors who questioned the company's commitment to sustainability to go piss up a rope and dump the stock.
Is that a good idea or a bad idea? I'm not sure but, as I write at Time, a lot of the discussion about corporate social responsibility is just good old-fashioned B.S.:
Can we get real about corporate social responsibility (CSR), the idea that businesses shouldn't just increase returns for shareholders but also benefit for free the larger world around them? Between Chipotle's cryptic warning that global warming threatens the planet's guacamole supply chain and Apple CEO Tim Cook seemingly forsaking return on investment (ROI) for social causes, CSR's stock is spiking like Pets.com in the late 1990s.
"People, not profits" may be a powerful slogan but it's a really stupid business plan, mostly because it assumes the two priorities are mutually exclusive – and that businesses that go belly up have any chance of helping anybody. So when a "visibly angry" Tim Cook told Apple investors who question man-made climate change to "get out of this stock" at the company's annual shareholder meeting last week, he wasn't really putting ideology over profits. In an economy where many people are willing to pay a premium to feel good about themselves or morally superior to less-enlightened souls, he was bidding up his company's stock price.