I have talked to many people who have a deeply engrained desire to give back to their communities and have researched many companies that do seem to want to do good. In general however, while individuals may have a moral desire to give back, at an organizational level, companies are concerned primarily with avoiding lawsuits, avoiding action from regulatory bodies, and maintaining a good public image. Essentially it all boils down to public relations.
The logic behind these companies motivation is simple. If I know Company X donates money to help save the pandas and only uses green energy to power its factories, I will develop a high opinion of them. I will likely buy their product rather than Company Y’s, which I know employs child labor and pollutes the Jordan River.
To some this realization may seem disheartening, but in reality it’s a great asset to consumers. A CEO enacting CSR to clear his own conscious may be less receptive to feedback than a self-interested one fearful of public backlash.
Examples of how the public can most efficiently voice its displeasure are plentiful. Product boycotts, media scrutiny, online activism, and protests are all very effective methods. After all, the Tobacco Industry largely fell in the United States after media coverage of high profile legal cases lowered its public approval.
McDonald’s and other fast food chains were heavily criticized after pictures of the ‘pink slime’ they use to make chicken nuggets spread through social media. Recently they have come under more scrutiny as many employees have gone on strike demanding higher wages.
My own college, Davidson College, joined in the public backlash against Chick-fil-A after the company’s president made comments critical of gay marriage and was found to have funded organizations labeled ‘hate groups’, by canceling a regular order we had to serve their chicken at a regular school function.
By remaining watchful of corporate misbehavior, sharing information online, and making their voices heard with their wallets, Jordanian consumers can ensure that all companies operating in Jordan maintain responsible business practices.
What do you think? Is it beneficial to have PR as the main motivation?
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