CSR and Business Profitability Don’t Mix, Says Borelli

Prompted by the Wall Street Journal editorial about the departure of John Browne from the helm of BP (the company formerly known as British Petroleum), Senior Fellow Tom Borelli sent a letter to the Wall Street Journal, which they published Friday:

Social Responsibility Isn’t CEOs’ Business

January 19, 2007; Page B6

Your Jan. 16 editorial “Beyond PR at BP” was correct to call attention to the folly of BP’s Beyond Petroleum advertising campaign that distracted management from its core business responsibility: finding, drilling and processing oil in a safe and efficient manner. However, the editorial failed to recognize BP’s public relations effort as part of the larger corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement that plagues big business. CEOs are under pressure to expand their companies’ responsibilities beyond making money for its shareholders.

BP’s CSR detour was a disaster for its shareholders, workers, the environment and Lord Browne himself. BP’s CSR experience illustrates that like oil and water, CSR and business profitability don’t mix.

Tom Borelli, Ph.D.
Free Enterprise Action Fund
Eastchester, N.Y.

It will be interesting to see if the next CEO of BP also is ashamed of the company’s core business.

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