People Think Companies Can’t Do Good and Make Money. Can Companies Prove Them Wrong?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Imagine you’re the CEO of a casual dining chain. One of your executives comes to you with a proposal: she wants to lower the quality of service at the restaurants, reduce product safety standards, use deceptive marketing practices, lower employee pay, and adopt worse environmental practices. Would you expect these changes to result in increased, sustained profitability?

Many American consumers imagining this scenario say yes. In a staggering blow to the ideal of socially-responsible business, American adults who took our surveys for pay consistently indicated that they expect harmful business practices to increase profit. People seem to think that businesses profit by taking value from customers and society, rather than creating value and sharing it with customers.

Even in one of the most market-oriented societies in human history, it appears very difficult to make most people appreciate that ethical and profitable business practices do not fundamentally conflict. We describe these views as anti-profit beliefs.

Photo courtesy of Josh Twohig.

Source: Harvard Business Review (link opens in a new window)

corporate social responsibility, sustainable business