For decades, even as environmental and social challenges have intensified, chief executives have been told that their only responsibility is to the bottom line. In contrast, this book looks at business leaders who saw profit not as an end in itself, but as a means to make the world a more flourishing place. The book makes a sharp distinction between deep responsibility, which can deliver radical social and ecological responses, and corporate social responsibility, which is often little more than window dressing.
Deeply Responsible Business takes a historical perspective, going back to the nineteenth century Quaker capitalism of George Cadbury in Britain and the worker solidarity of Edward Filene in the United States. Through a series of in-depth profiles of business leaders and their companies, the book carries the story from India to Japan and from the turmoil of the nineteenth century to the latest developments in impact investing, B-corps and steward-ownership. The study profiles business leaders from around the world who combined profits with social purpose to confront inequality, inner-city blight, and ecological degradation, while navigating restrictive laws and authoritarian regimes.
The book asserts that these deeply responsible leaders were motivated by bedrock values and sometimes—but not always—driven by faith. They chose to operate in socially productive fields, interacted with humility with stakeholders, and felt a duty to support their communities. While far from perfect—some combined visionary practices with vital flaws—each one showed that profit and purpose could be reconciled. Many of their businesses were highly successful—though financial success was not their principle metric of achievement.
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