“There is no Ethics in Business, the Business of Business is Business” articulated by economist Milton Friedman in 1970. His argument was that the only social responsibility of business is to use its resources and engage in activities that promote profitability as long as it complies with the legal requirements. His statement was accepted by economist worldwide. However, this view of business responsibility has been challenged by stakeholders, NGO, and politician who put pressure on businesses to incorporate social and environmental issues as part of the business cost. It is presumed that the business is not working in silos as proclaimed by Grayson and Hodges, businesses are perceived as part of the solution to social and societal problems which they themselves are partly responsible for.
I can relate this to my previous work experience in a Third Party Logistic business in which provide transportation services to the local food distributor. The company has disregarded the environment pollution that it creates in terms of noise and carbon emission to the communities. As a local company, what matters most is the company’s bottom line on its income statement which is the net income “PROFIT”. The corporate social responsibility only became part of the performance culture when it started to engage with an International business that generally required the local companies to undergo Sedex Members Ethical Trade 4 Pilar Audit which emphasizes on UN Global Compact’s ten principles concerning human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption. The business contract is only awarded to businesses that have passed the audit and that fulfilled the social and environmental commitment.
Generally, most small businesses have treated ethics in a rather simplistic way by indicating that they doing business within the rule of the game. They believe that any behavior that is within the law is legal. However, when it comes to ethics, it goes beyond legal framework. At the same token, some businesses may engage in greenwashing to promote it stock value, more customers and favorable partnership, for example, Google’s “don’t’ be evil” slogan can seem hypocritical when viewed in terms of the company’s collaboration with repressive regime, not to mention the questionable practice of compiling reams of personal data on every customer. Corporate responsibility and sustainability should be encouraged however these activities should continually be questioned and reassessed.