「華人戴明學院」是戴明哲學的學習共同體 ,致力於淵博型智識系統的研究、推廣和運用。 The purpose of this blog is to advance the ideas and ideals of W. Edwards Deming.

2010年7月16日 星期五




As I joined more than a thousand people at the Royal Albert Hall last week to mark 25 years of the Prince of Wales's presidency of Business in the Community, I reflected on how the battles over corporate social responsibility have changed.

上周,当我与上千人一同在皇家爱尔伯特音乐厅纪念威尔士亲王担任社区商业协会 (Business in the Community)主席25年的时候,我回想起有关企业社会责任的斗争已经经历了何等变化。

For decades, some rejected the very idea of corporate responsibility. Milton Friedman called it a “fundamentally subversive doctrine” in a free society, adding: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.”

几十年来,一直有人反对企业责任这个概念。米尔顿·弗里德曼(Milton Friedman)称这是自由社会里一个“彻底的反动学说”。他进而宣称:“企业有且只有一个社会责任——利用其资源参与到提高利润的活动中去。”

If managers wished to support other causes they should do so in their own time and with their own money. Many supported this view. The shareholder value movement, which argued that a company's sole responsibility was to produce a decent return for its owners, was based on it.

如果企业经理希望赞助其它一些理想,他们应该利用自己的时间和金钱。股东价值运动 (shareholder value movement)就建立在这个理念上;它主张一个公司的唯一责任是为其所有者创造可观的回报。

The champions of corporate responsibility never denied the importance of either profit or shareholder return. But they insisted that responsible companies would produce more of both.

企业责任论的拥护者从未否认过利润或股东回报的重要性。但他们坚持认为,负责任的企业 产出的不仅仅是这两项。

One of the first features I wrote for the Financial Times, in 1986, was about Prince Charles's support for the Per Cent Club, a group of UK companies that promised to donate half a per cent of pre-tax profits to community causes. Stephen O'Brien, then chief executive of Business in the Community, which administered the club, said the companies were not promoting healthier local communities out of philanthropy, but as a way of expanding their consumer markets.

在我1986年为英国《金融时报》撰写的最早一批特稿中,有一篇写的是查尔斯王子对 Per Cent Club的支持。这个由英国公司组成的集团承诺将税前利润的0.5%捐助给社区活动。社区商业协会管理着Per Cent Club,时任首席执行官斯蒂芬•奥布莱恩(Stephen O'Brien)称,这些公司不是出于慈善原因推动社区的健康发展,而是将其作为一种扩大消费者市场的方法。

The idea that companies would do better financially if the people around them were wealthier was not new. In 1914, Henry Ford introduced a daily wage of $5 so that his workers could afford to buy the cars they built. Many later supporters of corporate responsibility extended the argument to the community as a whole: the better off people were, the more of the companies' products they could buy.

企业周围的人更富裕,企业效益就会更好——这个理论不是新近才提出的。亨利•福特 (Henry Ford)在1914年引入了日工资5美元的机制,以便他手下的工人有能力购买自己制造的汽车。许多后来的企业责任论支持者将此理论延伸至整个社区:人民 生活越富裕,他们就能购买越多的商品。

There were other business arguments in favour of corporate responsibility. Employees who helped local schools or supported art projects would feel happier about their companies. Staff loyalty would increase. Productivity would rise.

还有其它的商业论点支持企业责任论。那些帮助本地学校或者资助艺术项目的员工会对他们 的公司有更多好感。员工忠诚度和生产效率都会提高。

Most important, the wider community would regard companies as contributors to society, not exploiters. Customers would stick by them in times of trouble. Winning this social acceptance, often called “a licence to operate”, was sensible risk management, and therefore a legitimate business objective.

最重要的是,社区内更多的人会将企业看做社会的贡献者而不是掠夺者。在困境中,顾客会 与企业站在一起。赢得这种社会认可通常被称作获取“营业执照”,这是明智的风险管理,因此也是一个合理的企业目标。

The Friedman view still has its proponents but the financial crisis has quietened many of them. The blind pursuit of shareholder value was blamed for bringing the banking system down. Even Jack Welch, former General Electric chief executive and one-time champion of shareholder value, denounced it as the “dumbest idea in the world”.

弗里德曼的观点仍然有支持者,但金融危机已经让很多人安静了下来。人们指责对股东价值 的盲目追求拖垮了银行体系。就连曾经的股东价值拥护者、通用电气(General Electric)前首席执行官杰克•韦尔奇(Jack Welch),也谴责此观点为“世界上最愚蠢的想法”。

By that stage, however, corporate responsibility had changed. Globalisation and competition from lower-cost countries had placed the old idea of nurturing local communities under great stress. To survive, western companies moved manufacturing abroad. Many of those loyal employees were thrown out of work and those once-nurtured neighbourhoods abandoned.

然而,在那个阶段,企业责任已经改变了。全球化和来自低成本国家的竞争,已经给培养本 地社区的旧观点带来了很大压力。为了生存,西方企业把生产环节转移到海外。许多忠诚的员工被扫地出门;那些曾经受到培养的社区也被抛弃了。

Some companies adopted a new approach: sustainability. They said that reducing packaging, lowering petrol consumption and using less electricity and water both helped to preserve the planet and significantly cut costs.

一些公司采取了新的做法:可持续性。他们说,减少包装,降低石油、电力和水的消耗,既 有助于保护地球,也可以大幅削减成本。

Will sustainability produce the happy marriage between profitability and a clearer conscience that champions of corporate responsibility have so long sought?

长久以来,企业责任论的支持者一直在追求利润率和更强道德意识的完美结合。可持续性能 促成这段美满姻缘吗?

Yes, subject to two provisos. First, those old forms of community engagement will not disappear. They fulfil deep human needs – to be respected and to feel that one is doing something worthwhile. It is very well saying people should do this in their own time; much of their time is spent at work.

答案是肯定的,不过受制于两个条件。第一,那些旧有的社区参与活动要继续存在。这些活 动满足了人们深层次的心理需求——受人尊重,感到自己在做有意义的事。有很多人说,人们应该用自己的时间做这些事;他们大部分时间都用在了工作上。

Second, companies committed both to traditional corporate responsibility and sustainability can still fail. Enron was a benefactor to its home city of Houston. Lehman Brothers' programme of support for an inner-city London school was one of the most impressive I have seen. BP, under Lord Browne, its previous leader, promised a sustainable future beyond petroleum. Tony Hayward, his successor, insisted hydrocarbons would remain central, but that the world needed a more sustainable mix of energy sources.

第二,那些同时致力于传统企业责任和可持续性的公司仍然可能失败。安然(Enron) 捐助了自己家乡休斯顿的建设。雷曼兄弟(Lehman Brothers)支持伦敦贫民区学校的项目是我见过最出色的项目之一。英国石油(BP)在前任领导布朗勋爵(Lord Browne)的带领下,承诺将建立一个超越石油的可持续未来。他的继任者唐熙华(Tony Hayward)坚持认为,碳氢化合物仍将占据中心地位,但是世界需要更可持续的能源组合。

But Enron was brought down by fraud, Lehman by unsustainable financial engineering and BP is fighting for its future after an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

安然因欺诈而破产,雷曼兄弟被不可持续的金融工程打到,而在墨西哥湾环境灾难发生后, 英国石油正在为了自己的未来而奋斗。

True corporate responsibility, sustainability and that treasured “licence to operate” come, above all, from identifying the fundamental dangers to the business and ensuring they don't come to pass.

真正的企业责任、可持续性和那宝贵的“营业执照”,首先来自于认清企业面临的根本危 险,并确保它们不会发生。