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A corporate profits policy that I could buy into?

Written by: Simon Palmer | Posted on: | Category:

This is a post that may not help me with corporations, or perhaps it will?

In the past I've always taken the view that corporations were the evil empire, and I don't suppose I'm the only one! However, part of that might actually be because of my experience in the corporate world, and more specifically some of the people in the corporate world. Oh the stories i could tell...but won't!

However, as the years have gone by and I've mellowed (sarcasm is still working). I've thought about the continued public frustration seen in some debates, or demonstrations, trying to examine if there is a win/win situation out there. For a lot of corporations the drive is to return profits to shareholders. To demonstrate good efficiencies and an upward growth. To develop new exciting products or services that corner a market that guarantees the future of investment, jobs, and corporate health.

I should say that I'm not a member of any fiscal institute, or have great financial acumen. I'll leave that to those that do. BUT, here's an idea that I feel is worth giving thinking time too. Certainly the response to it on a social network for business gained a little positive feedback...

Many corporations would like to be "seen" to be good corporate citizens. They have "giving policies" for their employees, that may attract some benefit in kind. They may adopt and support a well established charity due to the type of business they are in, or simply because the leaders do feel it a worthy cause. These demonstrations should always be applauded no matter how cynical some may be. But with all these initiatives they are at the discretion of the company.

The world we live on is changing. You have groups such as Extinction Rebellion, and the Wildlife Rebellion demonstrating and raising awareness, and no matter how hard you try to ignore them, they achieve visibility, both negative and positive. What if corporations had the decision made easier for them? Instead of trying to align themselves to a cause that may help there PR, something they could still do, they were required to put some of their profits into conservation and nature.

My personal philosophy has been to give something back because of what I do. I get to take pictures, and enjoy a poor but fun life in photography. I have donated my images to charities that have generously put me up so they can use the images to fund raise, or promote. I'm not the only one that does that, its nothing new. But what if that were extended to corporations in the best possible way.

Could companies be asked to set aside a percentage or even a fraction of a percentage of their gross profits for the environment? If you think about it logically, most of the things we buy involve taking something from the planet. Resources, minerals, animals, air, to name a few. So why not turn it on its head by stating that an extension of the accounting for business would include, for example, a percentage point of the businesses gross profit before tax, that would be allocated to the planet. Sounds crazy doesn't it, but it might work, and it would have to be before tax, so that the wriggle room for creative accounting was reduced.

The method of allocation could be to the area most effected by the business. At a very basic level, a company that sells products that use Palm Oil (however it is farmed), would pay their Planet Tax into managing and supporting rain forests. The money would need to go direct, and not via any government. Sadly the greed of man knows no bounds, and in some countries we have to accept that government interference would make it impossible to get the money where it needs to be without an agency outside of government to administer the funds. Companies that fly people would pay into a section a Planet Tax that could combat global warming, maybe by paying for wind and solar farms to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels? It still doesn't give them the right to continue as they have been though, which is how the current charitable giving does. There wouldn't be a "We've ticked the charity box folks, lets go make even more money!" type of thinking.

The point of this post is that with the planet needing drastic action now (well decades ago really), we should not only be thinking about solving the current issues, but looking at what we do after the issues have been solved. Just because you've figure out the problem in front of you, it doesn't mean there won't be more after that. But you can always reduce the number of them to come! You see, for the first time, I'm want to be optimistic. I want the humans to succeed in surviving by caring for the planet. Humans have always been great problem solvers in the past when faced with an eleventh hour situation! Admittedly we are leaving it very very late this time, but we can still save ourselves by saving the planet. We have to change, completely change. We need to swallow hard, and stop just "taking" and pointing the finger elsewhere thinking that we are good citizens. Corporations need to do this too, because eventually they will stop making profits, and their employees will be out of jobs, with no money to spend on the products the corporations make. A corporate vicious circle to go with the climate vicious circle...


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