OTTAWA—Although Milton Friedman wrote in 1970 that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits,” a new survey finds that companies would in fact make more money by being socially responsible.
They would also benefit in terms of recruiting talent, according to a national poll sponsored by the Corporate and Community Social Responsibility Conference held at Ottawa’s Algonquin College on Tuesday.
More than six in ten Canadians polled said they would be willing to spend more on a $100 product or service if a version was available from a socially responsible company.
Women would spend more on average than men ($10.11 vs. $7.03), and younger Canadians would spend more than older Canadians. Those 18 to 29 would spend $11.88 more on average.
In addition, one in two said they would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company. The average cut they said they would accept was 4.8 percent. Eight percent would be willing to take more than a 10 percent pay cut.
Importance of Connectivity, Information
Speaking at the Ottawa conference, Barbara McInnes, president and CEO of Community Foundation of Ottawa, noted that philanthropic organizations like her foundation are noticing that “when people talk about making positive change or tackling wicked societal problems, they’re no longer looking for leadership.”
“It’s ‘connectorship’ they’re after,” Ms. McInnes said, adding that the most effective organizations today are those that understand the importance of connectivity and how to make powerful connections happen.
“Enhanced disclosure would give investors better insight as to the long-term viability of their investment,” said Laurel Broten, Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services and Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues.
“Investors today want to know more than just limited financial disclosures. They want to know where a company buys its supplies, how it treats the planet, is it a good neighbour to the community, and how its actions compare to its competitors.”
In April 2009 Ms. Broten introduced a resolution that was passed unanimously in the provincial legislature and led to a review by the Ontario Securities Commission of the reporting standards for Ontario corporations.
“Each of us individually can start to have quite a significant impact if we think through what we are buying and who we’re doing business with,” Ms. Broten said.