Corporate responsibility and the environment
Since the industrial revolution, productivity and growth have been the central purpose of business. As time, communications, travel and world population have all accelerated, businesses have got bigger by swallowing their competitors. Henry Ford’s factory - where massive productivity took precedence over any social or environmental issues - gave birth to the rise of the super corporations. Increasingly global, these corporations have become a part of everyday life for people throughout the world. Their growth has been so rapid that they have had little time to consider the environmental side effects of their activities.
In the 1970’s however, with the rise of social awareness, corporations became major targets of advocacy groups. With notorious incidents such as the Exxon Valdez oil disaster and the Nike sweatshops debate, corporations began to realise that their obligations went beyond the accumulation of wealth.
In recent times buzzwords like corporate self-regulation, corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability have become common. Formerly notorious companies now spend millions on advertising how environmentally sound their practises have become. Earthday, however, warns that it is often a case of ‘greenwashing’ where corporations hide behind a pretence of cleanliness but have actually changed very little. It has named BP, Starbucks and Subaru as being amongst the worst offenders.