The business of business is business’. This statement immediately goes to your gut, your heart, your innermost self and as a businessman, you end up asking yourself fundamental questions such as: “What do I truly believe in?”, “Which side am I on: Crony Capitalism or Soft Socialism?”, “Am I doing enough for society?”. The answers to all these lie in understanding what the statement by Milton Friedman or Alfred Sloan (remains disputed) truly means and accepting some harsh or soft facts about yourself and your company.
Businesses are not just businesses but also creators, distributors and facilitators of products and services, which are solutions for global needs.
Products from Apple, Samsung, and other leading brands help people stay in touch, carry out analyses, pitch for sales, experience entertainment, among many utilities. Services from British Airways and Virgin Trains make transportation possible. Banking corporations like Barclays and Citigroup make banking, saving and investing possible. They are all serving people, but at a cost. Moreover, businesses provide employment opportunities to billions of people globally.
Leading business names such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Becht Family, BHP Billiton, among others have massive charities which improve lives, empower people and contribute towards eco-preservation across the world. Whether it is for simply giving back to society, shaking off guilt or to create shareholder value is immaterial because these actions are making a difference to the world. They are not just making charities themselves but also leveraging their resources and raising large donation amounts. I believe such organisations will not diminish in the long run because it is human nature to give and take and vice-versa.
John Maxwell once made a thought-provoking statement: “There is nothing called Business Ethics. There are just ethics. You either have them or you don’t.” I believe similar is the case with social responsibility. What we truly believe in is reflected in our businesses. For example, I plan to start a charitable trust that raises funds to fight HIV, Cancer and Alzheimer’s. This has led me to support ‘Ashray’, a shelter-home for HIV-affected children, in a small way through my company Metcon Finance, as a responsible company. Does this mean that I am doing this to pay my debt to society; maybe or maybe not.
I am a firm believer in capitalism and pure competition. We live in a dog eat- dog world, a complete rat-race, with limited jobs, natural resources and capital. This naturally results in the survival of the fittest. Should businesses take pity on the rest? In most cases, they should not because I believe businesses must prudently channelise their benevolence as social support needs to be sustainable.
In conclusion, most businesses are attempts at building capitalist empires in the long run. Governments anyway levy taxes and cesses on corporations and firms which are directed towards education, environment protection, employment, etc. Hence, whether businesses should participate in social responsibility measures is a decision better left to them. However, I strongly believe that those who can should make their contribution to help make the world a better, greener and affordable place to live in.