First, Make Money. Also, Do Good.

Aug 29, 2011 5:00 PM ET

First, Make Money. Also, Do Good.

Corporate social responsibility efforts have always struck me as the modern equivalent of John D. Rockefeller handing out dimes to the common folk. They may be well-intentioned, but they often seem like small gestures at the margins of what companies are really trying to do: make money.
As well they should, an argument most famously made by the Nobel laureate Milton Friedman decades ago. He called social responsibility programs “hypocritical window-dressing” in an article he wrote for The New York Times Magazine in 1970, titled “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits.”

But Michael E. Porter, a Harvard Business School professor, may have an answer to the Friedman principle. Mr. Porter is best-known for his original ideas about corporate strategy and the economic competition among nations and regions. Recently, however, he has been promoting a concept he calls “shared value.”
 
 
About GE
GE (NYSE: GE) is an advanced technology, services and finance company taking on the world’s toughest challenges. Dedicated to innovation in energy, health, transportation and infrastructure, GE operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.ge.com.
 
Citizenship at GE is more than a program or a set of good intentions - it is a full-time commitment built upon cultural behaviors and actions. These actions are integrated with business strategy and have defined goals, strategies and metrics that make it actionable and accountable.
 
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