The relationship between business interests and the community has often been awkward, as there is often a natural tension between profit and social impact.
However, in today’s world the case for putting corporate social responsibility high on the business agenda has never been stronger. The real question is how it can be done in a way that aligns the objectives of shareholders with the needs of the community.
Where companies tend to struggle is when they have to balance issues of economic growth, jobs and political interests with activities that impose significant, longer-term costs on the community. For example, the row between the gaming industry and legislators is a flash point which highlights the tension between gaming profits and the social cost of gambling addiction.
These are complex issues, but it is important for business to be pro-active in addressing social costs of their activities or they will often find onerous outside regulation imposed on them.