Should Corporate Social Responsibility Include Political Responsibility?

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Wharton's Eric Orts and University of Toronto's Waheed Hussain discuss how companies are responding to political controversies.

Traditionally, there has been an idea that business stays out of politics. The notion is that the government “sets the rules of the game … and business just sticks to its knitting,” says Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics Eric Orts.

But that model doesn’t always address the complexities of reality, as some firms have discovered recently. Today, Orts says, the question is: “How is [your] business involved? Are you complicit in something that is happening from a political point of view that is against your values, against the values of your company?”

One case in point is the recent controversy involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the separation of immigrant children from their families at U.S. borders. As part of the backlash, firms such as McKinsey & Company are canceling contracts with ICE, and employees from others companies, such as Amazon, are pressuring leadership to end ties with organizations that do business with ICE.

To discuss how firms are escalating their responses to political situations, Orts was joined by Waheed Hussain, a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, on the Knowledge@Wharton show on Wharton Business Radio, SiriusXM channel 111.

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