To Get Companies to Take Action on Social Issues, Emphasize Morals, Not the Business Case


More employees are asking their companies and leaders to tackle important social problems.

If you are an employee who wants to create social change from within your organization, what is the best approach? Conventional wisdom is clear on this one: make the business case. Convince management that addressing the issue will help the company’s bottom line. We’ve seen the business case for a plethora of social issues: increasing diversitysustainabilitycorporate social responsibilitycorporate philanthropycorporate volunteering programs, reducing poverty, and treating employees well.

Yet some have questioned whether we always have to make the business case. For example, don’t many organizational leaders want to improve society as an end in itself? Research also shows the business case can activate a leader’s “economic schema,” or a tendency to make decisions solely from an economic viewpoint, which can lead to less compassionate behavior.

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