In my Business Law class we are discussing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR states that businesses and corporations benefit from society with limited liability and other benefits and therefore they have a responsibility to society to give back via charitable or social programs.
This reminded me of a discussion I chaired once that I gave the following as the scenario:
You work for Thingamagigee International Incorporated as a Thingamagigee Quality Control Engineer. You have been with this company for 20 years and are making $80,000 a year with 401K, health and dental insurance, and six weeks vacation per year.
This year, Thingamagigee Int’l made a $500,000,000.00 profit. Are you entitled to any of that profit?
I had an overwhelming majority adamantly claim that they were entitled to their proportional share of the profits because they helped make those profits.
I asked those people if they had not been already compensated for their contribution with their salary and benefits and they seemed to think their employment package should only cover the company to the break even point.
I asked since this company is incorporated would not that profit belong to the shareholders? The common answer to this was shocking. The responders seemed to think that the shareholder’s stake was in the company assets, not profits.
I asked if this was a privately held company owned by the Magigee family, would that make a difference in who the profit belonged to as the family had invested all their own money to make the company in the first place? Again, the respondents felt the profit was owed to them as they did the work.
Finally, I asked that since the company did not have to locate in your area in the first place and had they located elsewhere, you would not even have that job, had they not already done more than their fair share by locating where they did and employing you? Again, the majority of those discussing this had the opinion that no matter who worked at the company and whether or not it was a publically held company, the profits belonged to the employees, not the owners/shareholders.
Fortunately, I have not had to have a discussion group with 18 – 22 year old college students since that time.