More and More CEOs Are Taking Their Social Responsibility Seriously
Jana Partners, the activist hedge fund, isn’t known as a tree-hugging hippie sort of firm. Yet, last month it joined with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System to send a letter to Apple’s board warning about the effects of the company’s devices on children. The same month, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink sent a letter telling companies that his firm would consider social responsibility when making investments. And Mark Zuckerberg told investors that Facebook would be making changes to its platform that would help users in the long-term, even though, he warned, in the short-term the result would be users spending less time on it.
We are witnessing a big, transitional moment – akin to the transition from analog to digital, or the realization that globalization is a really big deal. Companies are beginning to realize that paying attention to the longer term, to the perceptions of their company, and to the social consequences of their products is good business.
This realization is arriving not a moment too soon. The world badly needs a more sustainable form of capitalism if we’re going to build a more inclusive, prosperous society and avoid catastrophic climate change. Of course, many of us have been saying this for a while – that we need to think more about the long-term, consider social context, and incorporate sustainability into business. (Fink, to his credit, has been talking about long-termism for years.) The question, then, is: why now? Why are more and more mainstream players taking this seriously?
Photo courtesy of Pavel Ahmed.