Profits and Social Responsibility

The relationship between profits and social responsibility is a topic I’ve touched on many times here over the years.

I believe you can be a socially responsible person, investor, or company and also be a high performing one.

I tweeted this yesterday on the news that our friend Shri has launched a new venture capital firm called Spero:

I do believe you can be an impact investor and produce top tier returns.

And then later yesterday, I came across this interview with Josh Silverman, the CEO of Etsy, where I am Chairman, and I love this comment:

The best of Etsy has always been our commitment to social responsibility. It was our execution that was letting us down. And I think we were at risk of confusing those two. So, we continue to hold to our commitment to the broader community. But when you’re a socially responsible company, you’ve got to hold yourself to a higher bar on execution. We’ve defined three areas in particular where we believe we’re especially well positioned to have impact on our community: economic empowerment [for sellers], diversity [of our workforce] and environmental impact.

I agree with Josh that you can do both, but when you are committed to doing both, you have to hold yourself to a higher bar on execution because any mis-steps will be viewed as the cost of the double bottom line. And that is unfortunate.