Business as we now know it is new – new in its broadening scope, new in its social significance. Business has not learned how to handle these changes, nor does it recognize the magnitude of its responsibilities for the future of civilization. Wallace B. Donham, Dean, Harvard Business School In the wake of a global recession, initiated at least in part by large-scale abuses in financial markets, we are reminded that the words spoken by the Dean of Harvard Business School in 1929 remain decidedly relevant today. What was once a novel outlook on the role of business in society has become the norm. Today, nearly every major US corporation has broadened the scope of its investments to include significant resources for various social, ethical and environmental practices. According to a recent analysis by the Governance & Accountability Institute, the number of S & P and Fortune 500 companies that issue sustainability reports has more than doubled since 2010 (www.sustainability.thomsonreuters.com). This paradigmatic shift in business philosophy is largely the result of evolving market expectations. Evidence of this shift can be found in the ratings of corporations’ environmental activities and capabilities, which now influence billions of dollars of ‘socially responsible’ investments. To compete in today’s global marketplace, businesses are increasingly recognizing that socially responsible practices are necessary in order to recuit talented employees, attract social investors, avoid unwanted media attention and provide a means of differentiation.
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