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Some advances and creations, however they are intended, primarily make the world a better place for businesses.

Extending the durations of copyrights far beyond the author's lifetime makes the world BetterForBusiness.

Perfecting targetted advertising methods will get the same consumer to buy more goods. Which is BetterForBusiness.

The counterpart is something which is BetterForPeople. These frequently (but not always) contradict each other.

See also: TwoWorlds.

Better ad targetting means I get less junk mail, more of which is actually interesting, so that one is BetterForPeople.

[Perhaps this section should be moved to some other page?]

Yes, eventually. These were preliminary thoughts. I am thinking of much more, but I felt the desire to say something. I was hoping others would have more illuminating things to say. --ss

I have been thinking of ways to give business a SocialConscience?. Note that under CorporateLaw?, corporations are legally required to focus on money (DueDiligence?). On the other hand, I am also thinking of ways to allow socially-aware organizations to turn profit without angering people. Most people have irrational views on what is and is not ethical and (sadly) good for society. Profit is generally a good thing in balance with other forces. -- SunirShah

At least in the US, companies aren't directly required to focus on money. They are required to follow their charters, however, which are often totally focused on "increasing shareholder value". (I'm completely ignoring "Non-Profit" corporations for now.) The distinction may seem tiny, but some for-profit companies have created charters which mention other purposes besides money. Perhaps the best-known example is the "socially responsible" mutual fund which does not invest in certain industries (tobacco, alcohol, and weapons are commonly avoided targets). Others might place restrictions against certain actions in their charter, like at least one cosmetics company that does not use animal testing of its products (even when such testing is cheaper than alternatives).

A few interesting sources from a Google search [1] on "social corporate charter" are:

Also, the NaturalCapitalism book focuses mostly on environmental issues, but chapter 14: "Human Capitalism" [8] explores other "social" interests. --CliffordAdams

The irony. I read [6] yesterday, and my company gets bought out by our largest shareholder today.

The problem with these "corporate charter" based methods, and such is that they are largely available only to the founders of a business. As a person who prefers to work for a company rather than found one, I must choose a company that proceeds in a fashion I approve of. These are hard to find - it's frequently hard to find independant information on the behavior of a company outside of things like environmental compliance and corporate charity (and I don't trust either of those as a barometer).

To obtain independent information on the behavior of a company we'd need to build a community of [whistleblowers] (concerned workers) who plainly explain what is going on inside. Obviously there are risks to disclosing such sensitive things. But those people could at least provide pointers to particular activities that concerned outsiders could try to keep an eye on.

But instead of focusing on what goes on inside a business, why not try to exploit its interactions with the world at large? A business needs income. Typically this comes from consumers. I think another potential way of ensuring that businesses get a social conscience is to educate consumers so that they preferentially buy from businesses that do have one, thereby conferring them a competitive advantage. Equitable coffee is one example of such a practice. --SebP?

First, typically businesses get money from other businesses. The rule of six applies: each dollar (euro, dinar, pound, etc.) passes through six hands. Secondly, you could never have a community of whisteblowers. Whisteblowers are unhirable timebombs. You certainly couldn't have a contact that continuously leaked information for they would be found and eliminated. Then they would be given the mark of Cain.

Instead, I think you'll find many people inside a company just say no to many things. I've said no to a few projects I've found unethical. Many people will refuse to do things that seem wrong. Everyone has to go home to somebody, after all.

Of course, terrible things will still happen when terrible people get together. -- SunirShah

I get your point about whistleblowers. They can only organize after their deed is done and they are out in the cold. Before that they could only discuss generalities, preparing for their (first and last) information leak. How about a community of pre- and ex-whistleblowers, then? Or a community of just naysayers, discussing the whys and hows of saying no (presumably anonymously, and in general terms as well)? Could that help?

I'm not sure I understand your point about the rule of six. Do you mean that there are six businesses between the primary producer and the end consumer, so that it is difficult to see where one's money is actually going? --SebPaquet

The rule of six is pretty simple. If you buy bread from a baker, and that baker needs to be candlesticks from the candlestick maker, and that candlestick maker needs to buy a tub... In general, one dollar spent equals six dollars in six different people's hands. Another way I've heard it stated is that in a one company town, each company job equals six "support" jobs (shopkeepers, school teachers, mayors, etc.). -- SunirShah


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