Wednesday, June 20, 2007

... in something "bigger": social responsibility that pays

A few years ago, out of curiosity I browsed around school rankings and I was trying to see if there were strong correlations between a school's rank and the average salary of its graduates. And it stroke me hard: in several professional fields of studies (medicine, law, and scientific research), there were definitely strong and negative correlations between rank and average salary, at least among the top tier schools.

A friend told me: "Why? Easy. You don't go to Harvard Med if you wanted to practice medicine--which is where the money is. You go there to learn how to find the cure for cancer and a solution to AIDS in Africa ... a Utopian dream that does not immediately--if ever, during this lifespan--pay off."

As a person, I've always wondered what life is and what life should be. And as an aspiring leader ... I continuously ask the question: what makes an organization better than others? How do you recruit and retain the best and the brightest? And how do you create value and earn a living (and provide comfortable livings for your followers) while staying true to your values?

The Wall Street Journal, June 19th 2007
Law Firms Willing to Pay to Work for Nothing

"Pro bono work at Big Law has evolved from an act of noblesse oblige into, at least in part, a business initiative. Law firms want strong pro bono programs as a way to recruit and retain top law students and junior associates, who are often more eager than their predecessors to do pro bono work ... The big firms are 'having to dig deeper to differentiate themselves,' say Esther Lardent, the president of the Pro Bono Institute at Georgetown University Law Center. 'Dedicating to pro bono is a way for a firm to say 'Our culture isn't entirely about maximizing profits, but about something bigger.' ... ": Ashby Jones

Harvard Business Review, December 2006
Strategy & Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility

"Successful corporations need a healthy society. Education, health care, and equal opportunity are essential to productive workforce. Safe products and working conditions not only attract customers but lower the internal costs of accidents ... Any business that pursues its ends at the expense of the society in which it operates will find its success to be illusory and ultimately temporary ... At the same time, a healthy society needs successful companies ... If governments, NGOs, and other participants in social society weaken the ability of business to operate productively, they may win battles but will lose the war, as corporate and regional competitiveness fade, wages stagnate, jobs disappear, and the wealth that pays taxes and supports nonprofit contributions evaporates ... Leaders in both business and civil society have focused too much on the friction between them and not enough on the points of intersection ... When value chain practices and investments in competitive context are fully integrated, corporate social responsibility becomes hard to distinguish from the day-to-day business of the company. Nestlé, for example, works directly with small farmers in developing countries to source the basic commodities, such as milk, coffee, and cocoa, on which much of its global business depends. The company's investment in local infrastructure and its transfer of world-class knowledge and technology over decades has produced enormous social benefits through improved health care, better education, and economic development, while giving Nestlé direct and reliable access to the commodities it needs to maintain a profitable global business ... NGOs, governments, and companies must stop thinking in terms of 'corporate social responsibility' and start thinking in terms of 'corporate social integration' ...": Michael E. Porter, Professor, Harvard Business School, and Mark R. Kramer, Senior Fellow, Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government

And, the truth is ... sometimes doing the good things is not only comforting ... but also makes strategic sense ...

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