Interests

No company intentionally goes against its interests, the so called shareholders value.

Some companies, though, pursue shareholders value in the long term. And not surprisingly, by doing so, they also manage to more positively contribute to the communities they operate in.

Other companies, instead, pursue shareholders value in the short term. And when doing that, it’s very challenging to also juggle the interests of people that happen to live where the company carries out its business.

A good example of the first type of company is Mars. In 2009, 2013, and 2016, Mars has interpreted a raising trend and has shrinked the size of their snacks, so that they could be consumed while still meeting general guidelines for the assumption of sugars. They have also doubled down on the effort by challenging some high level partnerships and campaigning to reduce weekly consumption of their products.

A good example of the second type of company is Facebook. Despite having been asked to take action for the negative effects on communities all over the world – from threatening western democracies to being a platform used for inciting genocide, from the horrific impact on mental health to the malicious inflation of ads metrics to fulfill their own agenda -, management sticks to their guns and refuses to translate a part of their financial success into effective measures to counter these (and other) problems.

A company is never expected to be a charity, and there are negative side effects to most products or services we are happy to live with. Yet the way business is done draws a clear line between the two types. As you build and grow (or help building and growing) your organisation, you should think about on what side you want it to be.

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