Fast Company

Social Responsibility Gone Bad

One non-profit lobbies for tax-reform. Another non-profit airs a commercial criticizing the powers-that-be for an electricity shortage in California. Seems legit, right? But, what do you think when it turns out these non-profit lobby groups are backed by corporations? One could view it as social responsibility gone bad, non-profits funded by corporations and secretly acting as their mouthpieces.

Social responsibility isn't about manipulating a market to go your way. It should be about using your name and your corporate power to get positive changes made that do not directly impact your business. Bill Gates doesn't improve schools and make the students slaves to Microsoft, nor does Jeffrey Swartz of Timberland aid City Year to create boot aficionados.

What are the ethics of companies funding non-profits? And what do you think about Pfizer, Intuit and others that manipulated the system?

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3 Comments

  • Vanessa Horwell

    Just imagine for a second we have all resigned ourselves, as Roger Fulton has, that corporations across the globe are consipiring to brainwash us, and that there are no good guys left. Is cynicism an elective at Wharton, I wonder? Social responsibility, for the most part, is viewed upon by corporations as "paying forward" their dues to society. Social responsibility has grown immensely in the past decade, from simply donating to charitable causes, to becoming actively involved in communities and their causes. However, like with any aspect of business today, there will be corporations who see such causes as a brilliant marketing opportunity, ripe for the picking. Does this mean all companies are sinisterly lurking behind their "do-good" personas? No, but it is highly unfortunate that a company such as Pfizer, has created an element of distrust, and proven once again that ethics and pharmaeceuticals do not go hand in hand.

  • Theo Furman

    As usual, the truth lies in the middle. Mr. Fulton should consider upping his dosage a bit .. not a healthy approach to life.

  • roger fulton

    are you kidding me? What are you a jr hi graduate? Of course Gates isn't in it to make people slaves to Microsoft -- he doesn't have to, WE ALREADY ARE!! In five years, you won't be able to make toast without his software. And for boots, what do you think, he's doing this because he's nice?
    Sure he is.
    And this California power lobby thing actually surprises you? Do da name Erin Brokovich ring da bell wich' you?? There is a Prosecting Attorney over in New York making a name for himself proving the point that the political left has been screaming about for years -- and I am chargrined but must agree with: corporate America is a sneaky, manipulative pack of greedy crooks..
    mostly. And that from a mostly right wing Republican Wharton graduate.

    Roger Fulton
    Yuma, Arizona