“Did you see how they made the child wear their T-Shirt and smile for the camera?” corporates are just ticks that will take advantage of any situation that gets any attention. They will show up with a van full of pull up banners and another full of branded t-shirts. Corporates have that guy in the media that will get them coverage on the news for free, some will even buy the media drinks (I heard from a guy who heard from a guy who had drinks with a girl that was told by the cousin, I think. I hope then that covers the part where you ask me for proof, yes?) so that they can give them a heads up on issues in society where the corporate can swing in and ‘save the day.’ and also give them coverage as the swoop in in their banded caps.
They want to be associated with problem solving and saving the day. Giving back to society, they call it.
Have you noticed how smug they look when the shake the hands of the ‘privileged’ winner as the hand then the gigantic dummy cheque? They will do anything to endear themselves to the masses, they will make a buzz and shove a hashtag so far up your….your… Timeline (dramatic pause for non tweeps to Google hashtag and timeline) *hold music* ______________ and make sure that you know what they are up to.
They spend millions on these causes which are so far from their core business that you wonder if they just hire someone to do their superman make up, hair gel and primary coloured underpants worn on top of their pants. Shameless, isn’t it? Is it?
To answer your question yes they do hire people do their superman make up, these are PR professionals and PR agencies. They make the stuck up white collar kinds look like well ripped, agile and helpful lot.
They highlight their success in business and their generosity to society. These makeup artists do this for a living. Corporate social responsibility they call it.
A question that often arises when this happens is, do these corporate types even care about the cause? Is it ethical for them to exploit these opportunities to further their brand? My ethics lecturer in campus did make this for a topic of discussion, it was fun to argue as it killed the 2hour lecture quite quick, she later put it in the exam, who does that? I digress.
I am not sure how i argued it but I do remember a lesson she tight on human dignity. What happens when your idea of ethics stands in the way of human dignity? So many people have criticized the corporate for the causes they support as they are only out to exploit the real victims.
In my humble opinion (and this is why I love digital soap boxes as I cannot get stoned) the so called real victims do not care what the company gets from swinging in to help. They only care that the solution is offered.
The company has no obligation to help. It is a legal entity, yes, and that means that it can transact in business with individuals and other companies as itself without lifting the corporate veil (yes that last part was me showing off and giving back to my business law lecturer for being so kind as to talk me to sleep) being a legal entity, its existence only serves for business purposes and is therefore not subject to the laws of morality. So as long as it is within the law and the majority consent of the share holders it is, again, in my humble opinion, that the company can do whatever it wishes to further its objectives.
You may argue a company should not hide behind the concept of the corporate veil to do whatever it wants, there are people that are agents of the company that should be ethical and care for society. Well these people have job descriptions that do not include feeling Aaaawww for the society and if they do, indeed care, they have salaries which they, if they care so much, can use to help. The company has an obligation to its customers and its shareholders. It is in its better interest, not obligation, to serve the society around it. This means that the community from which sources for its workforce and potential customers are taken care of so that when it comes to making that buying decision in the case of the customer and waking up to go to work in the case of the employees, the decision is made with a favourable mindset towards the company.
Having said that, corporates that show up and get the attention and give no solution should be ashamed and their products boycotted. This is the power that you yield as a customer. Let us not demonize CSR as a concept, let us only shun greed. If a company solves a real problem in society by offering a real sustainable solution they are to be commended, if they choose to brand the solution, what do you care, you did nothing while they did all the heavy lifting, let them be. At the end of the day a company is a business with the objective of making profit and the duty to offer products and services that make sense to the customer. If giving to society helps their cause, well and good.
It is what we would call a win-win, the ‘victims’ win and the ‘knight in shining armour’ wins. The only loser is the critic who refuses to be objective in their self righteous criticism while they did nothing to help the society. They only went as far as retweeting to look like they care. So between the branded solution and the hypocritical retweet, who is ethically bankrupt?
The views on this post are of my own. However, if any corporate would like to feel generous and give me a macbook pro/air, I will brand it wear your tshirt, smile and wave. But before you do, there are real issues out there, should you so feel inclined to offer real solutions, please do, they are much needed, and you can brand the hell out of them.
Over to you Michael…