There has been some debate in Australia about companies pledging support for social causes. There are two camps, the first advocates that corporates have a responsibility and the second that they should mind their own business (pun intended).
The first are lefties and the second right, now I feel a little dirty but I agree with the rights point of view. Not for their reasons of trying to quiet the debate on same-sex marriage though. They’re really annoyed that they have to deal with it, let’s be honest.
I am tired of companies taking social stands. Daily another company comes out in support of this cause or that. It doesn’t matter what the cause is they just need to be seen doing the “right” thing.
It annoys me because they do this purely for marketing reasons. There may be people in the organisation that believe strongly but it is done to carry favour. They never come out before it is a popular thought, only when it has majority support. Conviction only there when people are convinced.
There is an important place for prominent people coming out for causes. Putting their money up for what they believe. I don’t think this should be done with the companies coffers. These prominent people who have enough in the bank should drive this change personally. Without invoking their companies name who with a personal change may shift support..
There are a few reasons I believe this to be true and here they are:
1. What Happens When They’re on the Wrong Side of History?
Companies seem to be doing good work at the moment. They are smart about what they support, and they tend to lean left. This of course makes me happier because they are generally in line with my views. The reconfirmation that I am right is a nice aspect to this.
What happens when they’re not?
If you think of a time when slavery was the norm, companies would have advocated for it. The average man believed it and so did the companies. You say they are driven by popular views, popular views aren’t always the best. Populism is a dirty word in political circles for good reason.
In Russia for instance, does any company come out in opposition to Putin? No they support him completely. If he is ever toppled and public opinion is changed they will claim they never supported him. All the while they reinforce horrible incidents. The company aligning to the populist view doesn’t allows follow what is right.
I am suspicious of anything that relies on public opinion. Majority rules does not make right. It may be democratic and the best form of governing but it has not morality check. By allowing and demanding companies take a stance, it may one day be against you. Their hollow attempt at favour is not driven by anything but profits.
If you are willing to take the attention a corporate would give when in support. Be prepared for the the ignorance when they do not.
2. They do What’s in Their Best Interest
The idea that these giant corporates do what is in accordance with their morals is laughable. Too many times their positions move in the direction that is most beneficial to them. Many companies have done this when trying to balance customers from the right and left.
Companies are self-interested, they have responsibility only to profits. What would a company do if they needed to make a call that would cause them a loss? It may be the right thing morally but a loss is a loss. That negative on the balance sheet it much more real than a moral.
Taking this into account, how serious can we take their proclamations of support? It is important that we ensure that companies do not take advantage of or condone evils but that is where is should stop. They are legally amoral and that should be their public stance.
You may say well with their resources we can change things. This is true and only necessary if we ignore the fact that they do not have their own money. They take this money from their customers, likely to be you. They pass some on to their social causes and we clap at their conviction.
They don’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s an investment in what they believe will keep or bring new business. It is a marketing strategy more effective than a billboard beside a highway.
Not only do you pay more, they make you believe they have really paid it. Its like this: give me $5 extra and I’ll donate $3. Now I’ve made $2, would you call that charity? Put on top of that my CEOs $20 million bonus how does that activism feel?
If we want change it is lazy to expect it from companies. We should stand up and fight for the cause. Expecting capitalism to follow what is just, is just ridiculous.
3. The Easy Calls are in Public the Nefarious Behind Closed Doors.
This reason is perhaps my most strong. Many companies are quick to show how moral and caring they are. Gay people should be able to marry, we should be kinder to refugees. Sounds great right? Why would they not support these things.
Then you find out they’ve been ripping off their worker, or using hostile negotiating methods with their staff. What about that t-shirt they’re selling which employs sweatshop workers. They want refugees to be treated well when they’re here but in their own countries fuck ’em.
Hypocrisy is my hot button issue. They say women must be treated equal, but they have an all male executive list. If they believed these things then it would be evident. They wouldn’t need to put in place plans to rectify the imbalance, there wouldn’t be one. No need to talk about their beliefs it would be their actions.
We let them off the hook if they do a woman’s lunch, supporting the gals. Think about it, women have been fighting for equality for decades. If you have always believed it, why are your teams unbalanced? Your history is more important than your current words.
This idea that issuing a press release is credit worthy while they employ anti-social tactics is nonsense. We view these companies through segmented lenses.
Their public personas are caring but in the background they are working out ways to lower the cost of personal. How many companies walk in your parade while they do unethical things in the pursuit of a dollar? How many companies support equal wages, while shuffling people out the door to increase profit.
We should not want companies to support or condemn, we should want them to act on their principles. Companies know that it is an easy win to send out a press statement, it distracts from the things you would find reprehensible.
Society should take responsibility for the change it wants to see. It is dangerous giving that power to others and in particular those who have no conscience. Not through evil but through their structure.
I am sure there are some companies who are true to their words, following them up with good deeds. They are the minority.
It is disheartening to see people so easily placated. A company says two men should be allowed to marry, while they walk out hundreds of employees out the door. We should recognise more minorities while they replace their workers with robots, not giving a second thought to the effect.
If profits are the driving force then you should be suspicious of their proclamations. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security.
I am saddened when I see people out of work, not because their company is going broke but that they are chasing bigger profits. They support equal pay though so good on them.
I am not anti capitalist, I am a conscience capitalist. I understand that companies are beasts to make profit, I would never trust a beast with my morals.