Some time ago, economist Milton Friedman wrote an article which offered his ideas on the purpose of business. The title itself blatantly stated his view: “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits“.
Friedman stated businessmen believe they defend free enterprise when they state business isn’t just out to make a profit, but to also “[promote] desirable ‘social’ ends.” He opposed the idea that business possesses social responsibilities: “Only people can have responsibilities,” he declared.
According to Friedman, “there is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engage in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”
To some degree, I agree with Friedman: every business hopes to make a profit, but I do not believe that is the only intent; businesses can do good and do well (DGADW) at the same time.
I first became familiar with DGADW while reading an article which mentioned it was the credo of the late, famed attorney Johnnie Cochran. Back then, I wanted to become a lawyer and Cochran, “the people’s lawyer,” was the epitome of what I wanted to become.
He said, “People think lawyers only do things for money…It’s not about being paid. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s not about money, it’s about using the law as a device for change.”
A few years later, I was introduced to Stella Ogiale, founder of Chesterfield Health Services, who was named one of America’s most fascinating entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine in 2004. In the article, she called what she does Socio-capitalism. “We can be humane and still make money,” she said. That phrase reiterated Cochran’s notion of DGADW.
I’m inspired by companies like hers and others like Rawganique which offers sweatshop-free products made from sustainable sources with many of them organic, Tunes for Trees which plants a tree for every 10 tracks bought on iTunes™, Do The Math 247 which spreads the meaningful message of acceptance, brotherhood and compassion using the universal language of math, Tied to Greatness™, a national outreach program targeting inner city high school young men, and its founder, Alex Ellis, owner of Simply Ellis, a custom clothing company that specializes in custom suits, shirts and men’s accessories and Huntsman, a global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals, whose founder, Jon Huntsman Sr., oversees charitable foundations whose goal it is to make life better for families around the world by combating cancer, as well as other philanthropic efforts.
YOU can even help DGADW at no cost to you. The BMW Ultimate Drive® gives you the chance to hop behind the wheel of a BMW and for every mile you drive, BMW will donate $1 on your behalf to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest and most progressive grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists.
‘J. Dakar On’ is a monthly commentary feature on Concrete Loop. In 500 words or less, J. will offer his personal thoughts and opinions on political or social issues/events. Click here for contact info.