What is Social Responsibility?
According to Investopedia, "Social responsibility means that businesses, in addition to maximizing shareholder value, must act in a manner that benefits society. Social responsibility has become increasingly important to investors and consumers who seek investments that are not just profitable but also contribute to the welfare of society and the environment."
But social responsibility is not only for companies and businesses. Civic Duty also means that as citizens we also have the obligation to do what is best for our communities, especially in times of crisis. Those two terms are often called upon when its time for people to do their part, and often overlooked when its time for things -for- the people be done, but this is not a political post.
Today we will discuss how Social Responsibility comes into play in this pandemic crisis, with a few examples to follow and to avoid.
Social Distancing and self quarantine are important to combat this pandemic. A simple google search can show how much damage the Coronavirus has caused, how easy it is to spread and how unpleasant going through it is. Our civic duty is to stay inside, listen to what the officials are saying and help each other go through this.
People generally speaking have pretty much owned up to this, from videos on youtube ranging from tips to deal with quarantine, to the public's favorite, the memes people are doing their best, through socializing, various tips and tricks we covered in another article, and doing their part by staying at home. However, there are always those that seem to ignore the public health safety and put everyone at risk.
Conspiracy theorists, people that ignore social distancing policies and people who flat out don't care are still abound. Though this article by The Atlantic gives a solid reasoning as to why people ignore social distancing policies, that is by no chance an excuse. Do not be those people.
Hopkins Medicine gives us a solid article, explaining what social distancing is, why it is important, and why, even if we think those measures are a bit over the top, its best to just follow them to be safe. At the end of the day, nobody wants to go to the hospital in an effort to prove a point now, do they?
"Social Responsibility" is a term often tossed around by corporations trying to fix their public image. With stunts often centered with more publicity/marketing than actually doing something their society actually needs, or even flat out shirking their social responsibility to begin with, the first thing I personally started to monitor is how major corporations would react to such a pandemic.
I am glad to report, that I was pleasantly surprised in many cases, and unfortunately confirmed in others. But lets begin with the good news.
Even during the initial stages of the pandemic, I was glad to see that corporations were already stepping up to provide to their communities. With the famous, or infamous depending on your view, social app Messenger being the first one to catch my eye. In their announcement around the ends of March, it announced that among other things that they are "launching a global program to connect government health organizations and UN health agencies with developers that can help them use Messenger most effectively to share timely and accurate information, and speed up their responses to concerned citizens".
But that was not all, with Apple updating Siri to better respond to people asking if they have the coronavirus, a story covered by cnbc to IBM launching the COVID-19 High Performance Computing (HPC) Consortium we see plenty of corporations taking initiative. According to Venturebeat's article the consortium" will assist in evaluating proposals from institutions and provide access to compute for projects that can “make the most immediate impact.” Teams will have at their disposal 16 systems with a combined 775,000 processor cores and 34,000 GPUs, which can perform around 330 trillion floating-point operations per second (330 petaflops)" with John Kahan, the head of Microsoft's AI for Health program stating: “We want to make sure researchers working to combat COVID-19 have access to the tools they need".
Even Netflix has created a $100 million relief fund to help members of the creative community who have been left unemployed and without a way to earn an income during the coronavirus crisis, as stated in a story by the variety.
Unfortunately, not all companies seem to share their views. Many have went down a sleazier path. There will always be those that seek to make a quick buck from a crisis, however some companies take profiteering a bit too far. BBC.com reported on such an event, as many businesses in Derby have doubled, and even tripled the prices on certain goods. "Ajit Atwal, a Derby city councillor, said he had seen some shops radically increase prices on hand sanitisers, medicines and other products. A video he posted on social media warning he would "name and shame" offenders has been watched hundreds of thousands of times. The Federation of Small Businesses also said the behaviour was inexcusable." the article reads, and shamefully that is but the tip of the iceberg.
Gamestop is another company that got under media fire for their quite frankly almost inhumane practices during the epidemic. In an article by Forbes and Business Insider have reported on Gamestop doing some flat out inexcusable things. "GameStop is telling stores to defy state closure orders by informing authorities that they are an “essential business” akin to grocery stores and drug stores which are remaining open as coronavirus spreads" says the article by Forbes, which would be but one of the numerous insane things that crop up on this story. "Employees still working during the ongoing pandemic say that proper safety measures aren't being taken to ensure they don't get sick. According to a memo sent to GameStop managers and reported by the Boston Globe, employees were reportedly told to cover their hands am arms with plastic bags when interacting with customers, reports Business Insider.
The list goes on, but the point I think is made. There is a difference between profit and profiteering, and though I do not think that all the companies listed above, help out of the goodness of their hearts, but they give back nonetheless. For any of you business owners reading this article I strongly suggest you take the above examples as things you should -avoid- at all costs.
Times of crisis are always a haven for opportunities to make money and false news. However, in my opinion there is a hard line between turning something bad to something good, and flat out exploiting it. From companies to simple people, selfishness is never a good thing, and during global pandemics, or any global crisis for that matter, I believe its best to stop looking after no1 and start thinking about not being a threat to people around you.
Just because you can make a quick buck out of the situation, does not mean you should. Just because you believe the entire pandemic is overblown out of proportions, does not give you an excuse to put other's health at potential risk.