I don’t think anyone who even thinks about the answer to this question deserves to be in the business world. I agree that the previous generation has not given any or much importance to this factor, as long as they were selling goods & services, providing employment, and not breaking the law, but social responsibility goes way beyond this as they should be involved in selling safe products, being truthful to customers, helping the poor/contributing towards education, preserving the environment, treating employee’s rightfully or even rebuilding slum areas.
Society has given a lot to businesses, and in return they should also contribute to the society.
As the saying goes ‘what you do so shall you reap’, as both the firm and community are interdependent and they both have a common interest; in the sense that; if the firm pollutes the atmosphere by not installing anti-pollutants, it would affect the everyone’s quality of life, not only the employees, customers,and creditors, but also the managers and C.E.O!
Which also means that social responsibility ultimately pays off, as a firm which treats it’s employee’s equitably, satisfying all their needs would notice that their productivity and quality standards is higher, which would ultimately lead to higher revenue. Businesses that contribute to the education of young people would improve their recruitment efforts as well as the quality of their workforce.
What the world needs the most right now is an ethical manager who can differentiate between right and wrong, moral and immoral, and truly believes that their thinking and behavior towards others affects the way they think and behave towards them.
Ethics is not a bookish knowledge, it’s more of an art that exists in each and every one of us, and all you have to do is;
Tell the truth, obey the law from within(not just because you have to),respect people and their rights no matter what race and religion they belong to, take responsibility when requires ,and do no harm to others by believing that ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’
Ethical and responsible behavior may ultimately make good business sense because companies which are known to be reliable, conscientious, reliable and trustworthy are likely to have more people ready to do business with them.
According to me, it’s because of these greedy and selfish leaders who see to their own needs before others, that we are seeing this global economic turmoil, if they acted more responsibly, this would have never happened.