SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Sustainability — tracks feedback from more than 17,000 CSR leaders. We run the poll question each Wednesday in our e-newsletter. This week’s analysis is provided by Juan Villamayor, a corporate social responsibility consultant at Green Den Consultancy and business sustainability expert from Barcelona, Spain.
Last week, we asked: Is it the role of companies to reach where the government cannot? For example, creating child care space at the workplace, helping kids from poorer families with school grants or supporting medical research.
- Yes, they can complement each other, 57.14%
- No, a company’s business is business, 19.48%
- Yes, a company’s responsibility is to provide solutions to any kind of problem, 10.39%
- No, it should be limited to corporate giving and donations, 10.39%
- No, there are certain activities that should always be government’s responsibility, 2.6%
This week’s poll results are clear: Not only do companies have an important role to play in finding solutions for today’s problems, more than 67% of respondents say, they should also work hand in hand with governments to find these solutions. It seems that Milton Friedman’s motto “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits” has been surpassed. By doing more than just contributing to charities, companies can create opportunities and manage risks and, at the same time, solve social problems and improve environmental and economic conditions. The message is clear: Companies cannot replace governments, but they can complement them. Welcome to the age of cooperation between citizens, institutions and businesses.
However, while cooperation opportunities arise, new questions come up. Who should decide the sustainability agenda and its priorities, or what happens when government’s and companies’ focus collide?