Starbucks is #42 on the Business Ethics 100; Nike is #31. Neither firm is without controversy. But today comes a bit of news about each which underscores why these companies made the list.
Starbucks announced today that it is committing to buying 5% of the electricity for US stores from renewable power sources; the move will cut emissions by an amount comparable to removing about 3,200 cars from the road. Now, five percent isn't that much, and in years to come we'll all do much better than that simply by being on the grid. Nonetheless, high profile companies making efforts like this is one of the drivers that will bring that future about faster.
Nike, fresh from unveiling its Considered line of enviroshoes, has just released a detailed corporate responsibility report (after having been silent on the issue since 2002). Among the topics covered in the report is a full list of its suppliers, a move to greater transparency which should be applauded, even by those who remain concerned about past practices. Nike is aware of the need for greater transparency in order to regain public trust: "We felt the risks of any future lawsuit were far outweighed by benefits of transparency," says Hannah Jones, Nike's vice-president of corporate responsibility. "Because if we've learned anything as a company, it's that closing down and not talking about the challenges and opportunities doesn't get you far."
Thank you Starbucks/Nike, and if you are listening, you might also consider the other Grist article on Efficiency: the profit center. (win-win is good.)
Haven't both of them been on the list before?
I cursorily read Nike's online report, and as was to be expected, it's full of market and "exchangist" considerations ("better be ethical now, before a judge closes us down", "better co-opt and recuperate our critics now, because they're getting more and more support").
"Corporate responsability" still very much comes down to a purely economic calculus and a self-imposed practise. Of course, if this benefits future generations, that's a great thing. But there's a historic burden and legacy, AND there's the fact that Nike's entire accumulated capital was built on exploitation.
Restitution is the least we should ask for.
Finally, I'm amazed to see how easily some intelligent people buy the superficial discourse of "corporate responsibility". None of those "responsible corporations" will ever voluntarily change the fact that capitalism's motor is inequality (from a systems point of view).
As long as corporations don't question this basic fact, they will never be truly "responsible" (they don't really respond to the core issues).
environmental ethics != business ethics
None of those "responsible corporations" will ever voluntarily change the fact that capitalism's motor is inequality (from a systems point of view). As long as corporations don't question this basic fact, they will never be truly "responsible" (they don't really respond to the core issues).
What would you have them do?