Can CR Practitioners Save American Capitalism?

Sunday’s Washington  Post contained this great article by Steven Pearlstein “Can we save American capitalism?”

Pearlstein reviewed a range of recent books on economics and, through his conclusions, I believe he also offered a litmus test of the role of our corporate responsibility field, coming at it from the economists perspective.

“What’s been lost from American capitalism” Pearlstein posits, “is any sense of a larger purpose, of how it fits into and serves society…”   He draws a common theme from some of the books reviewed,  highlighting  the lack of what is variously called ‘social capital’, ‘civic capital’ and ‘civil foundation’.   Sounds like the terminology of corporate social responsibility and corporate citizenship to me.

He concludes that it is the trust this engenders that gives us the comfort to ‘accept the inevitable dislocations of the economy’s creative destruction’.  Without that trust, Pearlstein explains,  the business model is not sustainable. Sound to me like what we call ‘license to operate’.

Pearlstein ends by asking rhetorically where the change is going to come from that will provide the blueprint for new more socially, and therefore economically sustainable form of capitalism. He discounts economists and journalists, politicians too.  Instead he suggests it will come from executives, entrepreneurs, workers, consumers, money managers and bankers “who find the courage to demand something better of themselves and others.”   I wonder whether we, corporate responsibility practitioners, are amongst the executives he envisages leading that change?

I thought it was a great article and would urge you to read it and then  really test yourself  on whether, in doing your job as a corporate responsibility practitioner, you are having to find the courage to demand something better of yourself and of others?


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