The Social Responsibility of Business

“A good company delivers excellent products and services, and a great company does all that and strives to make the world a better place.”CEO of Ford Motor Co., William Ford Jr.

That’s exactly what I strive to do to make Kelly Law a great company as a business owner. Promoting social responsibility on the corporate level is something my firm and I believe to be one of the reasons why the firm exists. By getting out of the office and physically contributing to the community, instead of simply writing a check, our passion for practicing law continues to grow as we get out and among the people we serve. It’s humbling to see what kind of social impact I can have by making specific contributions to causes promoting justice. Such contributions come by volunteering on boards for not-for-profit organizations, and/or giving legal advice via volunteer (pro bono) lawyer programs. However, there is a limit with what we can do.

There are limits to the number of commitments your business can undertake no matter the intent for committing time and resources for benefitting the community. It’s important to strike the proper balance with operating your business, because giving more attention to one area and less than another can create problems. For example, by committing your business to too many causes, you might put a strain on the relationship you have with your clientele. Clients love it that your company is generous with its time and financial resources, but not to the detriment of their money and time. Economist and University of Chicago Professor Milton Friedman, a leading economic mind of the 20th century, observed that “by spending someone else’s money for a general social interest, the corporation is imposing taxes on one hand, and deciding how the tax proceeds shall be spent on the other…which is a governmental function.” While it’s important to cultivate social responsibility, however be careful not to do it to the detriment of the well-being of your company.

Having said that, bear in mind the overall purpose of what makes your business successful. It goes without saying, a business exists to earn money. Our vehicles aren’t gassed up on altruism, not to mention you can’t pay your mortgage with the good things others say about you. By starting your business with the intent of promoting social responsibility while advancing its plan for success, your businesses be ahead of businesses that don’t. Just be sure to find a balance between serving the clients who keep you in business and giving back in the community at-large.

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