Even though the company is responsible for the tragic loss of life, polluting the environment and potentially ripping off poor consumers, there is a deafening silence of criticism from social and environmental activists.
Instead, BP is heralded as an environmental leader for its position on climate change. For example, BP received the top score in a ranking of 100 Global Companies on Climate Change Strategies last March by CERES – a coaliton of organizations that are working to advance environmental stewardship by businesses.
Another global warming disciple is GE – the giant industrial, entertainment and financial conglomerate. Through its environmental public relations campaign – Ecomagination – the company touts its investments in alternative energy and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
GE is now partnered with the World Resources Institute – an environmental activist non-profit – in seeking national regulations to address global warming. By joining the global warming cult, GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt is enjoying the benefits of a capitalism convert – favorable media coverge for the company’s green strategy and protection from critical reporting on GE’s profitability.
Media scrunity of GE’s business would expose the fact that its share price has been flatlined ever since Immelt took the helm. Moreover, aggressive reporting would expose that GE’s pursuit of greenhouse gas regulations will negatively impact GE’s earnings because of the effect of higher energy prices on its business and the entire economy. But these details get lost in the fog of CSR. The excitement of a giant company taking a leadership role addressing global warming trumps reality.
Today, CSR gives CEOs immunity from criticism, allowing them to enjoy a peaceful and highly prosperous tenure. Until it’s recognized that company support for CSR initiatives is often a sign of a troubled business, CEOs will be eager participants. In the meantime, shareholders and consumers will be left paying the price.
Thomas J. Borelli, Ph.D. is the editor of FreeEnterpriser.com, a shareholder activist, and a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, a Townhall.com Gold partner. The opinions expressed are his own.