Nick Nichols

I am an unabashed fan of President Calvin Coolidge because he was not afraid to say that, “the business of America is business.” He should have added that the business of business is to maximize profits because lately, many corporate executives have lost sight of that fundamental principle.

Like lemmings marching toward a nearby cliff, many business leaders are blindly embracing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the doctrine du jour of activist nannies who are seeking to usurp political authority by setting themselves up as private regulators – all for the purpose of dictating how the rest of us live our lives.

At its nub, the activist-inspired CSR movement represents the convergence of two seemingly discordant political doctrines – corporate socialization and the privatization of regulation. With that in mind, Gary Johns, a one-time Australian Labor Party MP turned NGO watchdog, describes CSR as “a left-wing conspiracy dressed up as a right-wing conspiracy.” Perhaps this accounts for the whacky response to CSR by some in the business community.

For example, JPMorgan Chase created an Office of Social Responsibility this past June. The company’s new CSR czar, William M. Daley, stated: “JPMorgan is committed to serving our communities, protecting our environment, and working with government and other leaders in support of sound, thoughtful public policy. But we can do more, and I look forward to leading this effort to take our firm to the next level in developing and executing a comprehensive and coordinated Social Responsibility strategy and set of initiatives.”

I would bet good money that if the company’s namesake, Jack Pierpoint Morgan, was still alive and heard Daley’s statement, he would personally throw Daley over the nearest cliff.

In addition to the CSR lemmings, there are two other types of business leaders who preach the gospel of corporate socialism. They include those who believe CSR represents a public relations opportunity that companies can exploit for the sake of getting the activists off their backs. They are modern-day Neville Chamberlains; appeasement artists who believe that the Holy Grail of successful business management is good PR.

What do you suppose motivated the CBS Corporation to release its first Social Responsibility Report in July? Leslie Moonves, President and CEO of CBS, noted in releasing the report that, “The combined assets and reach of our Company provide us with a unique ability to serve the common good, and we’re committed to doing so.” This is from the same company that is bringing us Kid Nation.

Nick Nichols

Nick is a retired crisis communications executive. He also developed and taught graduate-level crisis management courses at the Johns Hopkins University. Nick is the author of Rules for Corporate Warriors: How to Fight and Survive Attack Group Shakedowns. He is a Vietnam veteran.