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Op-Ed Piece in Newark Star-Ledger Mentions Participant and Pivot

Social responsibility is smart business: Opinion

It is corporate earnings season and activist shareholders will demand their CEOs demonstrate how corporate social responsibility programs benefit them.

Even after 40 years of corporate social responsibility, many still believe it reduces shareholders’ profits. But Milton Friedman’s description of corporate social responsibility as “hypocritical window dressing” only being acceptable if it “cloaks self-interest” is wrong.

Research by Michael Barnett, vice dean of the Rutgers Business School, demonstrates that firms with the highest corporate social performance have the highest financial performance, as long as they establish credibility with stakeholders by making a commitment to social investments over time. Other research shows companies active in social responsibility experienced greater employee satisfaction and retention rates, a stronger relationship with outside stakeholders and a greater ease of doing business with potential partners who see a company as being good.

Consumers, especially the millennials who came of age in the 2000s, prefer purchasing from companies perceived as ethical. Demonstrating this purchasing power, Participant Media, the for-profit company behind movies such as “Waiting for Superman” and “Lincoln,” is launching a television channel, Pivot, geared to socially conscious viewers, especially those ages 15-34. Participant Media’s mission is to spark conversations about social issues and its high-quality work has been profitable. However, social responsibility is important to all companies, even if their main purpose is not social change.

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