Conscious Real Estate?

There was a piece by Andrew Hill in the FT on Whole Foods, its ethos, future etc.  Adding to the standard alphabet soup (ESG, CSR, SRI, PRI etc.) that you get with the ethical business sector, I learned of a new one – Conscious Capitalism.   It’s a direct contradiction of Milton Friedman’s  notorious statement that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits”. There are often three types of motive profiles that are cited for commitment to corporate social responsibility – the caring profile, the competitive profile and the concerned profile. The caring profile tends to emerge from organisational leadership who just want to do the right thing.   In the competitive profile, a firm is motivated by business advantage.  Andrew Hill quotes Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric’s chief executive, who said GE pursued its environmental programme “from a business standpoint from day one . . . it was never about corporate social responsibility”.  Finally, although this type of motive may rarely be stated publicly, the concerned profile is characterised in terms of a pre-emptive, collective response by business that improves CSR performance in order to prevent government intervention.  Conscious capitalism seems to emerge from a blend of all three motives.


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