CSR: Saving Private Faber
Repeating that social and financial objectives can be reconciled, being green and profitable, didn’t prevent Danone’s CEO Emmanuel Faber from being ousted by shareholders because they weren’t happy with stock prices. If Danone can’t pull it off, who can?
Reminder, we’re talking about the CEO under which Danone became the first listed company to adopt the French “entreprise à mission” model (akin to B-Corporation certification). So does it mean the noble goal of reconciling financial and social performance is purely unrealistic?
No, it just goes to show that no matter how much everyone claims it is entirely feasible, there will always be trade-offs. What is refreshing about HEC Paris professor Tomasz Obloj’s perspective is that he actually recognizes that there are strong tensions between social/environmental and financial goals.
What he offers are pragmatic suggestions to lessen these tensions. Specifically, goal-setting must take into account realistic time horizons, top leadership must have knowledge of both social and financial spheres and compensation must be thought out accordingly. All this is perhaps a little disheartening, but way more realistic than simply claiming to be able to sell yogurt and save the world.
Tomasz Obloj, Knowledge@HEC, 2021
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