Using corporate logic for social change

It is not really viable for society to impose accountability on some powerful institutions and not on others.  That is the basic issue with corporations.  But the onus of responsibility for imposing accountability, of course, is not going to fall upon the institutions themselves; it has to be undertaken by the people.  Just as it is the case with democratic government, if you want to impose accountability, you have to turn up at the polling booth and vote; we also have to actually utilize the existing mechanisms for imposing accountability on institutions of private power.  For corporations, that means utilizing market forces; it means, in fact, becoming a force in the market.

The completely transparent and binary decision-making process of companies makes this very straightforward. They are concerned with whether a policy is profitable or unprofitable, and no one, ultimately, determines whether a policy will be profitable or unprofitable except consumers.  This is entirely our responsibility. Companies learn from our behaviour and they follow whatever the market tells them; they have to.

It is possible for us to create a new dynamic whereby companies will actually compete with each other to be more responsive to public demands on how they use their political influence, if the market rewards them for this responsiveness; if it is actually more profitable to be responsive, and if ignoring demands leads to financial loss.

Major corporations have no problem whatsoever pressuring governments for legislative changes if they believe laws are detrimental to their business interests; they are not the least bit reluctant to push for laws and policies that they believe will make it easier and more profitable for their companies to operate; and more often than not, they get what they want.  So there is no question about whether or not corporations have the power to affect change when their own interests are at stake; they do it all the time.  Our challenge is to create a scenario in which what we want companies to do for us is also something they will want to do because it benefits them.

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