Do You Leave Ethics at Home?

First, let’s end all of this talk that the only responsibility of a business is to create shareholder value. Of course, shareholders have to win and win big. So do customers, suppliers, employees, and communities if we want to sustain value creation and trade.

Second, let’s continue to develop a deep and sophisticated understanding of human behavior in all aspects of our lives. Let’s not send business to the moral ghetto, so that in most of our lives we are complicated fathers and mothers, partners, lovers, and citizens, yet in business we are greedy little bastards trying to maximize self-interest and beat the other guy. The assumptions that we make daily about value creation and trade create a commons. We need to destroy most of the current commons and replace it with a more robust one that treats human beings with dignity as the complex creatures that we are.

Excerpted from the chapter Stakeholder Theory as a Basis for Capitalism by Ed Freeman, Andrew Wicks and Bobby Parmar. Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance. L. Saccone, M. Blair, and R. Edward Freeman (Editors). (New York, NY: IEA Palgrave MacMillan, 2011).

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