We take a sideways look at the corporate sector through the lens of popular culture.
According to Ben Marlow, Unilever's much lampooned PR exercise in ascribing "meaning" to mayonnaise - (spoiler alert - it’s for salads and sandwiches) - belies a more serious question facing every business: the battle between profit and purpose and the balance to be struck between the two.
“We might question whether most people really care whether the management of Tesco supports taking the knee. More importantly, does it matter if they don’t? Or are customers actually more bothered that their weekly shop remains affordable during a time of spiralling inflation?
On the other extreme are those proselytising for a hardline libertarian view of capitalism. They include the Adam Smith Institute, which worries that the entire stakeholder capitalism movement represents an existential threat to prosperity.
In some ways the emergence of stakeholder capitalism is merely a swing of the pendulum. The Milton Friedman view of the world, which says the sole responsibility of a company is to increase its profits, became standard. Through the wrong lens it can release a company of any social responsibility.
Stakeholder capitalism, at its best, articulates and restores some balance between business and the wider world.”
The full article can be read here together with the earlier Unilever article by Sam Benstead beneath it: