In 1970, the economist Milton Friedman said businesses should think only about making profit. He wrote that corporate executives are beholding only to their employers or shareholders and had just one responsibility. “That responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of society…” The idea of a business being socially responsible was viewed as a distraction and a disservice to shareholders.
For decades following Freidman’s declaration, most businesses have held firm to this notion. But now a new school of thought has taken hold and consumers are starting to expect more than just producing good products. They want to see companies minimize their social and environmental harm; address employee’s needs and be good corporate citizens. A growing number of companies are meeting the challenge. They have been given varied titles over the years – mission-driven, socially responsible, triple-bottom-line focused. Some have opted to pursue more formal designations, including incorporating as a benefit corporation (a legal designation in 31 states, not including North Carolina), or applying for a B Corporation status (a 50-state certification policed by B Lab, a nonprofit group, that is given to for-profit companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.)
This type of long-term managerial style is gradually replacing the old thinking espoused by the Friedman ilk. NCBC was created to assist this growing movement and give these businesses a strong voice to educate and influence policy makers about the benefits of thinking beyond the bottom line.
On November 3rd, NCBC will be hosting an awards luncheon to honor some of these companies and we invite you to join us to help celebrate those who are leading the way to build businesses that sustain our communities.
Vicki Lee Parker, Executive Director