My thanks to over 400 people who offered their opinion on the question posed in my recent story entitled: The New Perk – Social Responsibility.

The “Yes or No” question was:

“Do you believe that employee loyalty will improve as a direct result of the company choosing to be actively involved in support of charitable causes?”

Yes, there was a clear answer: 3/4 of the responses were YES.

This result does help us understand the “gut feel” impression that most people felt relative to the question. You probably aren’t surprised that I am happy to know that most people find corporate social responsibility to be a pretty good thing.

Now, obviously, the question of employee loyalty is hard to answer in a “black and white” manner. Many responses provided insights into the complexities associated with employee loyalty, and obviously corporate social responsibility is only one of many factors that define the relationship between a company and its employees.

I especially enjoyed one unique perspective that was shared by a few folks: A company should probably ask itself why it puts energy into social responsibility – is it because they “get something out of it” like employee loyalty, or is it because it’s the right thing to do? This idea really resonated with me after having recently read the book Justice by Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel addressing the subject across a broad spectrum of political/social philosophies.

It was Immanuel Kant that really got to me. I had heard his name but that’s all I knew about this extraordinary 18th century philosopher. Among other great concepts (you may hear about him again in a future story), it was his fascinating definition of freedom that fit so perfectly with this question about the motives associated with a company’s social responsibility. According to Kant, real “freedom” is making choices based solely on whether they represent the right thing to do – not making choices as a means to an end, but instead making the choice as an end in itself without concern for consequences, conditions or outside influences. Now I’m not suggesting this is easy – of course it isn’t – but wouldn’t it be nice if we could always just do the right thing?

Of course it’s totally “normal” for companies to think about most everything on a cost/benefit basis; why would we expect that their approach to social responsibility would be an exception without their conscious decision to think differently? However, the survey feedback clearly suggested that employees (and I’d expect customers, partners and everyone else) are enlightened observers as to the real motives behind a company’s approach to social responsibility.

Really, companies aren’t very different from each of us as individuals. Our motives are probably a lot more clear to others than we may realize. Here’s wishing all of us more clarity, conviction, and focus on doing the right thing.

Thanks for sharing time with me; as always, I welcome your feedback. Please feel free to pass this message along to others who may find value.


Jeff Black
Partner, McDermott & Bull Executive Search

Cell: (714) 356-1949
Office: (949) 529-2672
2 Venture, Suite 100
Irvine, CA 92618

“Just Do The Right Thing…Every Time”