Yvon Chouinard, the 84-year-old founder of the billion-dollar outdoor wear company, Patagonia, looks like an unlikely business tycoon. And in a move that sent ripples around the globe late last year, he made a move that proved he isn’t. He gave the company away. The reason: to divert all of Patagonia’s future profits saying: Earth is now our only shareholder.
His move is in stark contrast to the ideology of the most influential economist of our time, Milton Friedman, who admonished those interested in corporate social responsibility that the social responsibility of a business, is to make a profit.
Who is right, and what does this say about the kinds of challenges that executives are grappling with in a world that may be finally waking up to the need to create just outcomes for all stakeholders?