Does a company exist only to make money? Does it have a responsibility for the damage that it does in the making of products or whatever the business of the company is?
The dominant idea of the purpose of the corporation as simply to make money for its shareholders took hold about a hundred years ago. While companies in the west have moved toward more responsible directions in many cases, Eastern Europe and India have remained regressive with resource-intense industry continuing to be the big winners on the stock market or as role models for successful business.
But the narrow pursuit of shareholder value we have seen over years leads to excessively short-time horizons for investment planning and measures of success. It also leads to a focus on only the type of shareholder who is less interested in sustainability efforts and is “shortsighted, opportunistic, willing to impose external costs, and indifferent to ethics and other people’s welfare”. For eg. We don’t care what a bottle of water costs actually. What is its true value. We pay x rupees per litre, but the cost of the plastic, the cost of disposal, the cost of RO reject water discharge, the cost of groundwater depletion at the source where the company bottles the water is never computed. Same goes for energy. What is the true value of coal we mine for energy? What is the cost of the forests and rivers that we kill as we mine millions of tons of coal. That has not been part of the story of business in the last half century. If you resonate with the idea, may be you want to share some thoughts and ideas?