Social Responsibility In Business

I think companies have a lot to answer for in this modern society that they have helped create. Many choose to ignore their customers best interests, the treatment of their workers in factories abroad, and the impact their products have on the environment in the ever relentless pursuit for more profits.

Today I received an Email from my girlfriend asking about ways to monitor the data allowance on smart phones. Her boss had bought a contract phone for his young son who was being made responsible for the £10 per month contract fee. Things had gone very wrong indeed.

I can see what is going on here, the phone company give one of the lower spec phones away for free or minimum cost and young people are enticed to ask the parents to help out with the contract. Parents take out the contract not realising that these new phones are data hungry, the child thinks it is brilliant and starts streaming music, watching YouTube and downloading all the cool stuff through it. Then comes along the bill for the month…£10 all sweet yeah? No, £50!

Dad is angry and upset, and so is the child in the process as he now has to come up with the £40 extra to give back to Dad (there goes pocket money for a month, if he is lucky and gets £10 a week).

Where Businesses Can Help Become Responsible

The phone company as it turns out cap the bill at £50 and his son had ate through his text and data allowance allowed at £10. The annoying thing is they were able to cap it at £10 to begin with, but as standard procedure they set the limit at £50 unless you ask otherwise. Just as there is a credit rating so we supposedly do not get ourselves in large amounts of debt, phone companies could ask a series of questions for people applying for a new contract:

  • Is the phone being used by primarily by yourself or someone else?
  • If it is for your child, would you like us to put a limit on the bill so it never goes over the £10 per month?
  • Have you used a smart phone before?

What would be so wrong about asking those few questions? I know why, because it would adversely effect their profits and that dear reader is where I dislike companies that do not give a thought to social responsibility. Yes maybe it is down to the parent to check all these particulars out, but as with many purchases consumers make, some are made in the heat of the moment, they may not be savvy to new technology and possibly misguided by the sales representative (I know I was by Carphone Warehouse when I got my HTC Desire).

The questions I used above could most certainly be reworded for other industries to make sure the company is being responsible and doing what is best for its customers.

What Does Being Socially Responsible Mean For Businesses In Future?

Just as I started to write the title for this post (for some strange reason I do this first before even writing a word, bad habit or good habit?), my girlfriend wrote back with an Email with this included;

Is it possible to be a successful competitive business in todays world, make profits AND still have morals/ethics and stick to them?

As an example she listed a few companies such as Body Shop who are now owned by L’oreal and Innocent smoothie and fruit juice maker who received an investment from Coca-Cola. I’m sure neither companies ever intended to end up being owned or accountable to such corporate companies in any shape and form at its humble beginnings, but the question she asked above is very appropriate in a day and age where we are looking more and more at what a company is positively doing in society and the world at large.

Is it all about the bottom line for companies wanting us to buy from them? What are your thoughts?

Photo credit: Nosha

One Response to Social Responsibility In Business
  1. looloo
    May 18, 2011 | 8:06 pm

    Personally I avoid companies whose ethics and business practices do not match with my views but with companies having such big monopolies it can be hard to avoid the companies that you dislike.
    Sometimes its impossible to tell who you are actually paying your money to :-/

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