Friedman on corporate responsibility


As another massive, glossy 'corporate responsibility annual report' from a FTSE 100 company thuds onto my desk, I am reminded of the words of Milton Friedman in Capitalism and Freedom:

"Few trends could so thoroughly undermine the very foundations of our free society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible. This is a fundamentally subversive doctrine. If businessmen do have a social responsibility other than making maximum profits for stockholders, how are they to know what it is? Can self-selected private individuals decide what the social interest is? can they decide how great a burden they are justified in placing on themselves or their stockholders to serve that social interest?"