John Tyler, J.D., general counsel and Chief Ethics Officer for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, knows a thing or two about “doing good” in business. In his role with the Foundation, he regularly writes and speaks on topics like philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, and transparency and accountability in social enterprise, among other things. We were proud and honored, then, to host Mr. Tyler for an entire day of Alliance programming last week.
At our Executive Breakfast, Mr. Tyler reminded the audience that the question of “the purpose of business” has been around as long as business itself. He encouraged us to re-read Milton Friedman, who famously argued that the purpose of business is to increase profits. Don’t ignore the rest of Friedman’s thesis, Tyler argues: that a business should “make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.” Moreover, BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink, in his annual letter to CEOs this year, is pushing public companies to reevaluate their purpose, arguing that they are responsible for more than profits—they need to make the world a better place. Tyler outlined a range of business models that allow more flexibility for organizations to prioritize doing good—even at the expense of increased profit margins.
At the Alliance, we believe that “doing good” in business is achieved not only by contributing to social causes outside the organization but also by creating a positive, ethical workplace culture in which everyone can thrive. Tyler joined us at our Ethics Luncheon where he fielded audience questions and offered practical advice about doing right by those we work with. Check out these great resources for further reading:
Join us as we continue the conversation at our remaining 2018 Signature Programs!