Do You Agree with Milton Friedman’s (1970) Claim That: “the Only Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits”?

2889 Words Dec 13th, 2015 12 Pages
Do you agree with Milton Friedman’s (1970) claim that: “the only responsibility of business is to increase its profits”?
Today we live in a world were companies are major actors and influence society on many levels. This is why ethics were brought into the business world. Ethical enterprises follow certain values and moral beliefs and were created with the supposed intention of using that influence in a positive way and protect what surrounds them, whether it is the people who work for the company, the rest of society, the environment etc. Ethics helps companies distinguish what’s wrong or right in a certain situation and act upon it. It bases itself on the idea that a corporation is somewhat responsible for how it affects others, hence
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(J. Gabriel, 2013) And while this principle may seem utopic for some, it has been successfully adopted by many companies today, not with the purpose of increasing profits but trying to commit to doing good just to benefit others. But it goes beyond that. If a company tried to be socially responsible just as a marketing ploy, it would loose all credibility and the consumer’s trust. “Responsible CSR behavior is based on being fair, respectful, and honest.” (Öberseder et al., 2013)
Voted in Forbes’ world’s most ethical companies list, the apparel brand H&M is the leader in ethical fashion and a great example of a company doing good to benefit others. A whole part of the H&M web page is dedicated to ethics, with an in-depth interview of the CEO Karl-Johan Personn in which he talks about his hopes for the future of the company and society in general, mentioning their “great opportunity to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and help develop entire communities”. And although it is clear that being ethical brings the brand serious advantages which he recognizes - economic growth, strong partnerships with suppliers, etc.-, the importance of helping others shines through and seems to be of real importance.
Many people perceive the brands that they look up to as actual people, with defined characteristics, and the decisions that the brand takes will contribute to building that image. (Bakan, 2004) It influences

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