Corporate Offset Credit

Aren’t carbon offsets just a way to sweep the problem under the rug? “More convenient alternatives to reducing one’s own fossil-fuel consumption” sounds like permission to keep polluting, right? Source: Carbon offset entry on Wikipedia.

I think the same way about companies that have a “not-for-profit” arm. If the NFP is a part of the company, or the company’s brand, doesn’t it contribute to profit, in some way? Douglas Rushkoff reports that “in one year, Philip Morris spent $60M on charitable programs and then another $108M advertising the fact that they had done so.” That’s just one example, but doesn’t it sound like they value their public perception more than the charity work?

In such cases, charity feels like cover, like purchasing a Corporate Offset Credit.

It doesn’t diminish the impact of the charity (or does it)? The recipients of the donations still benefit. But wouldn’t it be better if the corporation just did some lasting good instead of being exploitative? Then they wouldn’t have to “counteract the negative perceptions associated with their particularly noxious behaviors.” (Rushkoff, 2009)


Inspired by Douglas Rushkoff, Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back ©2009 Random House, New York ISBN: 9781400066896. I highly recommend it. On to Present Shock next!

Also inspired by Umair Haque’s HBR blog.

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Copyright 2013 Michael Boezi
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