30 Nov 2006 Forbes: Can Corporations Save The World?
As noted by Forbes magazine, National Center Senior Fellow Tom Borelli says there is a link — and not the kind folks like — between corporations that put resources into appeasing the PC police (my description, not his) and the corporation’s performance on matters of greater significance.
Tom cites BP (“Beyond Petroleum”) as an example; the Forbes piece, by Carlye Adler, includes a response to Tom from BP:
Tom Borelli, senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, says companies are ill equipped to tackle the world’s problems. He cites BP as the ‘poster child’ of CSR gone wrong. Indeed, BP has had its share of troubles lately, including a pipeline leak in Alaska, a plant explosion in Texas City and an oil spill in California.’BP became obsessed with image campaigns that diverted money and management attention from its core business with tragic consequences for its workers, the environment and shareholders,’ says Borelli. ‘BP should have put money into safety and maintenance, not glitzy PR; their real responsibility is to safely and effectively produce oil.’
In response, Sarah Howell, director of corporate communications at BP, said in an e-mail statement to Forbes.com, ‘These events are unacceptable to us, and we regret and apologize for them.’ She adds, ‘We have $7 billion dedicated to our U.S. safety and integrity effort, and earlier this year announced plans to spend an additional $1 billion over the next four years to improve operational integrity and process safety in our U.S. refineries.’
Borelli, who is also the portfolio manager of the Free Enterprise Action Fund — a mutual fund that uses its institutional shareholder standing to challenge company management on the financial impact of CSR — takes it a step further: ‘When you boil it down, there are two economic systems: socialism or capitalism. CSR is the viral agent of socialism. Social welfare should come from government and investment from corporations.’