The smug little phrase

The smug little phrase, "Business is business," is often used to raise a false issue and fabricate an escape from duty.

Milton Friedman is known for the phrase, “the business of business is business”. Though, in the 1700's, George Colman the Younger published a play titled "Heir at Law", which coined "...Business is business. Nothing is more important than business and the profit it brings. There's no justification for not putting it first..."

In the twenty-first century, is this still an acceptable business behavior?

What is the business of business? Is it truly still the case that all which really matters is shareholder value? Or, in a world where businesses can yield substantial financial, social and even political power, should it rather be business's business to take responsibility for social issues in their local and national communities?

There remain a few shrinking social classes that subscribe to the philosophy that only money matters; businesses who wish to continue dishonorable practices, or who do not believe that they can make a success with better methods. The other, are certain exponents of culture who aspire to conform to Mathew Arnold's definition of persons who "...know the best that has been thought and said in the world," but possess no desire to expend the energies towards an attempt to beautify industry, and therefore find it convenient to hide behind a duty, by keeping in circulation a fallacy; branding a difficult task as hopeless.

The need for organizations in both public and private sectors to behave in a socially responsible way is becoming a generalized requirement of society. It is shared by the stakeholder groups that are participating in the ISO working group for social responsibility, as they work to develop ISO 26000; an International Standard providing guidelines for social responsibility for consumers, and throughout industry, government, labor groups, nongovernmental organizations and other forms of business world-wide.

The perception of an organization’s social responsibility performance can influence;

  • Its reputation
  • Its ability to attract and retain male and female workers and/or members, customers, clients or users;
  • The maintenance of employees' morale, commitment and productivity;
  • The view of investors, donors, sponsors and the financial community; and
  • Its relationship with companies, governments, the media, suppliers, peers, customers and the community in which it operates.

    Are you running a socially responsible business? The draft ISO document is already online, grab it while its still free!