SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE

“But, great as our progress has been, we still have a long way to go.
As we look around the country, many of our shortcomings stand out in bold relief.
We are suffering from excessively high prices.
Our production is still not large enough to satisfy our demands.
Our minimum wages are far too low.
Small business is losing ground to growing monopoly.
Our farmers still face an uncertain future. And too many of them lack the benefits of our modern civilization.
Some of our natural resources are still being wasted.
We are acutely short of electric power, although the means for developing such power are abundant.
Five million families are still living in slums and firetraps. Three million families share their homes with others.
Our health is far behind the progress of medical science. Proper medical care is so expensive that it is out of the reach of the great majority of our citizens.
Our schools, in many localities, are utterly inadequate.
Our democratic ideals are often thwarted by prejudice and intolerance.”

- Harry S. Truman, XXXIII President of the United States 1945-1953

Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union, January 5, 1949

Harry Truman.jpg

In this speech, Harry S. Truman introduced the “FAIR DEAL ACT” which is essentially a call for social responsibility. Social responsibility is a part of the industrial scene, and has always been. President Truman’s 1949 speech could be given again today without changing a word (Ok… maybe change a number or two!). So what has happen in 65 years? Have these efforts been wasted?

Part of that answer lies in the structure of the system itself: We are using the same economic tools in the same way as in 1949. The same dashboards and performance indicators, we are analyzing data through the same filters and biases, we are promoting the same values and ideals.

This calls for the private sector to struggle against public government to maximize their profits and shareholder value, whilst the public governments struggle against the private sector to maximize tax revenue to be use for social development and increasing the quality of life of their citizens. The two actors being of matched power, one using economics and the other using legislation.

Things have been working this way since the advent of democracy. The context changes, the details of the action change, but it remains the same show.

Dr Paeng, Former CIO of Hyundai Motors and CEO of many green technology start-ups

Dr Paeng, Former CIO of Hyundai Motors and CEO of many green technology start-ups

I recently had the opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Paeng. He is President and CEO of a number of green technology start-ups in Japan and president of the Korea Green Business Association. He was the CIO of Hyundai Motors and a Director at Samsung, so the man knows a thing or two about modern industry. His point of view is that the states, governments and NGO’s aren’t doing what is necessary to help social development of nations. In developing nations this can be even truer as tax money is used to enrich politicians and company presidents as much as to construct infrastructures and provide education and welfare.

                       Marianne Williamson,                 Spiritual leader and Politician

                       Marianne Williamson,
                Spiritual leader and Politician

Marianne Williamson,  is an American woman running for congress in California District 33. Willamson has been an active believer in human development. For countless years, she has been preaching about spirituality, consciousness, and caring. She has written many very successful books. I believe she readily uses the phrase: “Love as business model”. As a political candidate, her stand is for everything that will make normal people’s life better, not just rich people’s life richer.

She’s in ire against: the rich-poor gap, mass-incarceration of minorities, government spying, child poverty, global warming to name a few. She invites everyone to take social responsibility. Not just lay it down on some political agenda to be forgotten about, but to dig down deep, to wake up in the morning and understand the bit you can do to care, and to do your share of the social development work.

What we must understand is that this must also include private enterprise. It can be seen as an “IMAGE” thing. All CEO’s know how important image is, but hardly any follow through with the discipline to change his company’s ways.

What is absolutely certain is “goodness” is a business asset. Many have expressed this one way or another. For example Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines once claimed that “If employees are treated right, they treat the outside world right, the outside world uses the company’s product again, and that makes the shareholders happy.” But goodness goes far beyond the company. It extends to the community. 

Governments and Private sector have to work with each other and not against each other for the betterment of all.