Monday, December 14, 2020

Corporate Justice at the Micro Level

Several years ago, my friend, colleague and mentor, andre cummings, and I created and defined what we call "Corporate Justice."  "At its core, Corporate Justice refers to a responsibility, even a moral obligation, which businesses and corporations have to engage fairly, civilly and responsibly in the world and community that they do business and from which they derive profits. More than that, the concept of Corporate Justice also focuses on the roles that shareholders, policy makers, other stakeholders and the community at large have in fostering a more just and responsible business community."  Our conversation led to the creation of a course, a book, several presentations, and this blog.  In conceptualizing "Corporate Justice," our primary focus was on large corporations and their impact on the world around us.  That perspective influenced much of the work we have completed on the topic as well as the way that we conceptualized its impact.  However, after a recent community event I facilitated here in Miami, Florida, I was presented with a thought provoking question “what does corporate justice mean for small businesses?”  I had never considered this question and realized that I had made a substantial oversight in failing to do so.  Small business are the life line of many communities and they meet the immediate needs of the people in areas in which they operate.  Given that reality, I have begun to critically think about what Corporate Justice at the “micro” level means.  Specifically, do small businesses have the same obligations that we might expect from large corporations?  Over the next few days I plan to think more about this question and welcome your input and insight.  Next week, I will provide you with my initial response.  I look forward to reading about your insights on the issue.  


1 comment:

  1. I am just seeing this post and am glad comments are still open. I believe that all businesses, regardless of size, have a responsibility to deal fairly and ethically with the communities in which they operate. The small business owner may not consider whether the owner has Corporate Justice responsibilities to the community. Instead, the owner would be focused on operating the business. Is there a role for economic development, legal, and accounting advisers beyond helping owners stay in business?

    Education for the advisers about ethical rules and norms should develop sensitivity to ethical issues and to the role of small businesses in the community. Advisers would educate owners about corporate justice norms. Advisers also would persuade owners that they could operate a business in accordance with those norms and without sacrificing profits. In addition, advisers would help owners develop plans consistent with those norms. Advisers may need to develop more than one persuasive argument. Whether the owner deals fairly and ethically with the local community may determine the success or failure of the business.