#17 The Milton Friedman New York Times CSR Debate

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#17 The Milton Friedman New York Times CSR Debate
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World leading thinkers join Fund Shack’s 50th anniversary debate on Milton Friedman’s article The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Profits.

 

Ross Butler:

It’s half a century since Nobel prize winning economist, Milton Friedman wrote an AR opinion. Article entitled the social responsibility of business is to increase profits. With me to discuss this are four of the world’s former thinkers on the subject. Professor John Kay is one of Britain’s leading economists his work centers around the interplay between economics, finance, business and society. His most recent book is Radical Uncertainty written with Sir Mervyn King.

Joanne Ciulla is a professor at Rutgers’s business school of which I think Milton Friedman was an alumni, correct me if I’m mistaken. She is the director for the Institute of ethical leadership and she’s founding faculty member at the Jepson school of leadership studies at the university of Richmond, where she teaches courses on ethics, critical thinking and leadership.

Brad Cornell is professor of finance UCLA and has been involved in a number of challenging involving the application of finance theory and his research applies financial economic models of incomplete information to the problem of ethnic discrimination among other things.

Guido Palazzo is a professor of business ethics at the university of Losan in his research. He is passionate about the dark side of the force, which I like and examines an unethical unethical decision making from various angles. His studies include those on human rights violations in global supply chains.

The article represents in my mind an argument against corporate social responsibility, perhaps not in its entirety, but certainly broadly in the last 50 years, of course terminologies have changed somewhat. So CSR has been to some extent replaced by ESG, but I’d say that they’re broadly similar enough. And what I hope to do is have a first principles debate so that we can get beneath, these concepts and hopefully provide some form of bedrock for corporate executives to use in their ethical decision making.

Before I turn to the panel, I’d like to do a quick poll. Do you broadly agree with Milton Friedman’s article entitled the social responsibility of business is to increase profits? Yes. I broadly agree. No overall I am opposed or that’s what I’m here to decide and everyone’s voting. Interesting. So 17% broadly agree. 69% are overall opposed and 14% are here to decide. Great. So I’m going to start by asking each of the panelists in turn to provide some uninterrupted opening remarks on the Friedman doctrine. So, if I could ask Brad for you to kick us off, please

Brad Cornell:

Well, I think I’m probably in that 17%, but let me start with something where I do slightly disagree with professor Friedman and that is his characterization of maximizing profit. That’s not the way we in financial economics think of it anymore because profit is too ill defined profit win profit next year, profit five years from now, profit 10 years from now and so forth. The way we approach this problem is to say that in a free enterprise economy, what companies are trying to do is maximize shareholder value and shareholder value value is really the present value of the stream of all future profits. And when you think of it that way value is by definition a long-term concept. There can’t be any short-term value because all future profits enter and to maximize the value of a company executives must take account of long, the run impacts of their decisions.

Brad Cornell:

And that means that if, for example, if they treat their employees poorly this year they’re gonna lose employees and that’s gonna win the long run, destroy value. If they don’t respect their customers, privacy, they’ll lose customers and that will reduce their long run value. And if they fail to account, let’s say of environmental impacts of their decisions that may bring down regulatory limitations, and that will reduce the long run value. So when we think of the right criterion, which is maximize shareholder value, some of this distinction between pursuing ESG type goals and pursuing value maximization disappears, but it doesn’t disappear entirely. So let me take us to a, a short thought experiment, which hopefully will, will be interesting to the, the attendees and my colleagues can comment on it. Here’s the way this thought experiment works. It’s a very simple company, it’s a delivery company and the only decision it has to make, and I’m focusing on the E part of ESG.

Brad Cornell:

The only decision it has to make is whether to use gas or electric delivery vehicles. The company can compute the total cost of either one. And the question is, does the company fall the Friedman doctrine of maximizing shareholder value, or does it diverge from that in order to take account of environmental issues. And, and I’ve got three scenarios to run through here in the first scenario, they do their valuation analysis us and the electric vehicles are cheaper. Well, if the electric vehicles are cheaper, value maximization says, use the electric vehicles. And in that case, there’s no conflict with broader corporate executives that take account of let’s say CO2 emissions, because they both lead to the same conclusion. Use the electric vehicles. That’s scenario one, scenario two, there is a carbon tax that reflects the external cost of burning fossil fuels.

Brad Cornell:

Let’s say that William is the prime minister of this country. He’s figured out what the social cost, the burning fossil fuels is, and it’s reflected in the tax. But even after the tax, the gas vehicles are still cheaper. So value maximization says use the gas vehicles. Some of my students say, but ESG says use the electric vehicles. That is not correct from a purely economic point of view, from a purely economic point of view, even taking account of the social effects, it’s better to use the gas vehicles that’s because the government will collect the revenues from the carbon tax. And that can go to other benefits. And even after reflecting these external costs, it’s still better to use the gas vehicles. So once again, from an economic standpoint, there’s no dispute here. If the external cost of the fossil fuels is reflected in prices, then value maximization works.

Brad Cornell:

And, and it’s what people should follow now, where it gets confusing. And I’m sure my colleagues will wanna weigh in on this is scenario three in scenario three, the gas vehicles are cheaper, but there, there is no tax that reflects the cost of using them. There are social externalities, which are not priced. And in fact, in some countries, there may even be subsidies to using fossil fuels. So value maximization of course says, use the cheaper one, use the gas vehicles, but a broader ESG objective may say use the more expensive vehicles, even though you’re gonna damage shareholders because of the social benefits of it. And this is where I think the rubber meets the road where value maximization and a broader social criterion diverge.

Brad Cornell:

But here are the problems that arise if you’re gonna tax shareholders. And if you actually tax employees and customers as well, if you use the more expensive electric vehicles, because they’ll bear part of the cost, how much customer money should be used to subsidize these electric vehicles. Second, what training do senior managers have to make decisions regarding the cost and benefits of climate change and other externalities Associa with fossil fuels. If I’m running a social media company my godsend runs the social media company, snap. He’s incredibly busy with his job. How’s he gonna know how to take account of climate change? Three. What if different managers reach different conclusions? Some may be socialists and think the environmental impact is very important. Others may be right wing of free market people who think it shouldn’t be paid any attention at all. How do you reach a consensus ?

Brad Cornell:

Four, what right do corporate management have to make social policy that’s in effect what they’re doing when they’re taxing their shareholders to promote the electric vehicles they’ve but not been elected or appointed. So my conclusion, and this is why I’m part of the 17%, I suppose, the managers who believe that we do not have a so appropriate rules of the game that we do not properly price externalities should definitely take that view and attempt to make it part of social policy. They should vote for candidates. They think will promote the right policy. They should attempt to get taxes levied if that’s the appropriate policy, but somehow making corporations, the philosopher Kings that are going to decide public policy on their own in my view is a mistake. So ultimately I would agree with professor Friedman, the rules of the game have to be set through a fair democratic process. And then once the rules have been properly set private corporations should go back to attempting to maximize shareholder value. And that does it for me, Ross, at least my opening comments. Thank you.

Ross Butler:

Great, thanks. Thanks Brad. That’s very clear. Say from an economist and segues quite nicely to Joan more on the philosophical side of things, Joan, can I pass to you?

Joanne Ciulla:

Yes. Thank you. And, and Brad, thank you. That was a, a really nice defense of some of the points in Freedman. I’m a floser. So I’m gonna look at it in a somewhat different way. I actually took us is questioned seriously, and looked at the argument itself. I’ve been teaching this argument for many, many years, and it’s a fascinating one, and there are some really strong things in it that are important to the field of business ethics. When I started working in this area over 35 years ago it, it Friedman raises some of the most fundamental questions in business ethics. First of all, a question of what are the responsibilities of businesses what is the kind of, what kind of moral agency does a corporation have? Those were very important parts, especially in the early days of business ethics to ask.

Joanne Ciulla:

The second thing that’s interesting about this is the context of it. It’s a newspaper article by a very brilliant economist, and I think there are some faults in it because it is a much more casual writing than probably the more sophisticated work in economics. We have to ask ourselves, to what extent is this a period piece? What does the historical context have to say about this kind of argument? And that of course is the other question of, is there something about the period of time that he was writing that a stronger argument than perhaps today, but the strength, the other great strength of the piece is it forces us to consider who ought to be responsible for what as was pointed out by Brad, there’s a lot of dangers in business making social policy, not only their knowledge, but the political questions in a democracy of whether they ought to be doing it.

Joanne Ciulla:

And I would add a third, somewhat economic consideration that if, if businesses had social responsibilities, such as let’s say, running schools that could be very dangerous because what happens when the business goes out of business we want our wellbeing of society to be contingent on government because it is supposed to be something that goes on over time and businesses as we know, come and go. So I wouldn’t want to rely on business to take care of the public. Good. And I think Friedman’s exactly right about that. But the question is as we go on is Freeman’s article always seems to assume a zero sum gain that social responsibilities must always go against the interests of employers and profits. And he gives examples about, and I love by the way in, in today’s world, I cannot imagine a business thinking that they can’t raise their prices, cuz it might contribute to inflation.

Joanne Ciulla:

Obviously we think of inflation in a different way today, but it just strikes me as a strange argument. The second one he says is, you know, imagine reducing pollution more than necessary. He seems to who assume that if you do that in a business, it’s going to have all sorts of bad effects, lowering wages, increasing prices, affecting consumers, lowering profits, affecting owners, and all sorts of horrible things will Enue and his central notion is that you’re spending other people’s money. Well, it, the, it’s kind of interesting to look at that the idea of reducing pollution more than necessary because in, in business ethics, there are several sort of classic cases about businesses that did exactly that and commons engine, by the way, that’s one of the more famous old cases in business ethics. And what’s compelling about that case is the fact that Cummins did reduce pollution more than necessary.

Joanne Ciulla:

And it turned out to be a competitive advantage because they had the foresight, the strategic foresight to see that it would eventually come around that there would be regulations, which is really speaks to one of the points. I think Brad was trying to make with his examples. So there are ways in which social responsibilities are related to corporate strategy. Now the question is you know, does this, does it always make them money? And of course that I think is a tricky thing. People who have been doing research in business ethics for many years have tried to show that ethics pays and we can’t always show that. So that of course is a problem. I find it amusing that he mentions the GM crusade in this. I, I always found that a fascinating case for those of you who aren’t familiar with it.

Joanne Ciulla:

This was a crusade by Ralph Nader and Nader’s Raiders. And it was about a car that they produced called the Corver that was very unsafe on the road. And Nader went in to GM stockholders meetings and tried to make the company tried to have proxy, tried to get stockholders, to make the company decide to focus on safer and cleaner cars. GM didn’t go for this and neither did the stockholders and they spent their money on having Nader followed around by a private detective. They got sued by Nader. They lost money and of course, Nader prevailed and all sorts of legislation came into play about auto safety. So there’s a lot of ways in which Friedman argues that social responsibility is shortsighted. But when we look at actual cases, we see that that strategic social responsibility is farsighted.

Joanne Ciulla:

So what Freeman wants us to do is stay at the moral minimum and that moral minimum is, as I said, strategically unwise in many cases now here’s where I get to the part of the argument that I find the most fun as a philosopher and someone who does ethics. And that’s when we get near the end, there is this very odd notion that Friedman has. It’s a kind of moral purity where he seems to almost get himself in a tizzy over the fact that companies could have corporate social responsibility. That’s actually initiatives that are good for them. The hypocrisy of it, he tells us is, is horrible. And for some reason, if you’re going to be socially responsible, it shouldn’t be good for you. Well, that assumption really doesn’t make sense sometimes. He seems to have missed in Adam Smith that there is enlightened self-interest.

Joanne Ciulla:

And I think most companies that engage in corporate social responsibility are not moral martyrs. Who’ve decided to lose profits to do something thing good, but rather they’re people who want to do things that are good for them good for all of their stakeholders, et cetera. That’s why the theory that, that emerges in business ethics that responds to this is stakeholder theory, which is also always looked at as a theory. That’s also related to strategy. So ultimately when we get to the end of this argument, we see that there’s this assumption that is very much an individualist argument, as well as a kind of libertarian argument that if everybody took care of themselves, if a all the businesses just took care of themselves and followed the law and, and did what businesses were supposed to be, everything would be fine. The problem with this is it’s a kind of Robinson Crusoe argument it’s as if we all lived on desert islands where nothing else touched us, there was a lot of water around us.

Joanne Ciulla:

Don’t live on desert islands. We can’t take care of ourselves without the interactions with others. And that goes for individuals as well as companies last year, Tim cook from apple gave a speech where he said sometimes when governments seem to be failing at things, businesses have to take up the have to step up. He said, now that’s a very controversial notion going back to Friedman one, we have to examine carefully. But the real issue I think is, is not really whether a businesses ought to be socially responsible or at, or not. The real question is whether is then they should be and how they should be socially responsible. As we look at this time of COVID 19, we see that if businesses behave the way Friedman wanted them to behave, they would find themselves in quite a bit of trouble. They’ve got sick employees, they have people working at home.

Joanne Ciulla:

There are all sorts of things that are affecting the way their businesses run. And if they were only concerned about their stockholders and they were only concerned about the profitability of their business not in the way that Brad described value, but in the way that Friedman does. I think they’d find themselves in quite a bit of trouble. And just as the human being who work in the business would also probably not feel very good about sticking to the Freedman line. So in closing, I’d say there’s a lot of things people love about this argument. They love the fact that it’s simple. It’s a, my students, a lot of my MBA students adore this are, they say, that’s exactly what should go on in business. The rest is just messy, but so much of this is really wishful thinking about business and non-systemic thinking businesses exist in a system. So while I, I look at this, not as, I’m not an either percentage group, I, I am grateful to this article for the many things that it highlights that are important about corporate social responsibility. But I also think that in terms of the realities of business it’s a little naive and no business can really go it alone without engaging in many of the elements of corporate social responsibility. So with that I’m pleased to turn it over to an economist. Thank you

Ross Butler:

Very full provoking. Thank you very much. Joanne, if we move further west John, can I yeah. Move, move on to you.

John Kay:

Okay, indeed. Joanna’s talked about as a, were the moral critique of this kind of argument, but the elements in that of an operational critique and it’s the operational critique, which I actually want to focus on Brad set out right at the beginning. I think correctly, that if you interpret, if you make sense of read has to be about maximizing shareholder volume rather than profit in any particular time period. So how do you go about maximizing shareholder volume? Well, he gives us a very simple illustration of how you might do that with a choice between an electric and a gas vehicle. And to make that decision, all you have to do is forecast gas prices for the next, however long. The length of life of the vehicle is 20 years and electricity prices for the same 20 year period. Well, good luck with that. And then the carbon tax introduced as well.

John Kay:

And in order to impose a carbon tax, the government, or will come to the qualifications of that in the moment someone has to estimate the actual cost of putting a ton of carbon in the, in the atmosphere and good luck with that. And then you have to walk iron some wrinkles in relation to the tax, like, is it levied on carbon production, carbon consumption, and who is it levied by where? And then you have to persuade most of the governments of the world to agree to that. Well, good luck with that as well. The truth is that we can’t do this because the sums simply it cannot be done. And if we move into the, the real world and take that 20 year horizon a moment, if we go back 20 years and ask who has created the most shareholder value in the last 20 years we come up with apple, Amazon Google, three companies that have not only created most much of the shareholder value in the last 20 years, but much of the shareholder value that have ever been created in history of the world.

John Kay:

So when were they 20 years ago? Well, apple was pretty much on its knees. Amazon was five years old. Google was two years old where Steve jobs, Jeff Bezos, Sergi Brin and Larry Page sitting down with these kind of spreadsheets computing, the next present value of free cash flows for the next 20 years. I don’t think so. I think what they were doing was Steve jobs was trying to create the coolest product you could imagine which in that 20 years ago was actually, he was working on creating the iPod, Jeff, Bezo trying to build the everything store and trying to shut books out the door. And Larry Page, I think were trying to create some pretty smart algorithms. What all all of them were trying to do was to build fantastic businesses. And of course, all three of them succeeded.

John Kay:

Let’s contrast that with people who actually try to take the Friedman doctrine seriously, the example which I must often use is ICI Imperial chemical industries, which is actually Britain’s leading industrial company for most of the 20th century. And for most of that period, been a clear of what their mission and objective was. And that mission was described as responsible application of chemistry and related science to business. But in the early nineties, that company called the shareholder value back, they changed their mission statement to our job as to create, share over value by focusing on businesses, in which we had a, a competitive advantage, what they did was they hired off the pharmaceutical business, which had actually become a most interesting part of the company. And the, the company was left in more traditional chemicals. it was very successful for a period ICI share price peaked in 1997, declined steadily thereafter until in 2007, the rather pathetic rum of the company was taken over by a Dutch company X.

John Kay:

And about that was ICI story. Another British stories of Mark and Spencer, which almost everyone around the world has heard of has the iconic British retailer on the 20th century. Unfortunately they caught the shareholder involving bug two in the early 1990s and under a new chief executive called a green break. They decided they had a target of making a billion pounds of profits. So they edged up prices. They squeezed their suppliers. They started moving some of their offshore production offshore. And once again, it worked for a bit in 1998, they actually achieved their billion pound profit target. And the share the price of the shares hit six pounds a share. Then unfortunately sales fell off a cliff only in one year, since then, as the company made a billion pounds of profits and the shares, which peaked at six pounds in 1998 are now one pounds 25.

John Kay:

I can tell this story over and over again. I can take [inaudible] the company that was regarded as the paradigm of shareholder while creation for time, which was of course, gen of electric. And we now understand that the extraordinary performance of general electric was in fact largely based on our financial services business, which after 2008 was shown to be essentially Aira. And that had served to guys the weaknesses in term created by the cost reduction and lack of forward planning and investment in I GEs more traditional business. So the share price, which would zoom from $2 to $50. Well, I’ve now rooted been having a rather bad week this week. And it’s now just struggling to say about $5 a share all these people in their attempt to purportedly create shareholder value actually destroyed masses of shareholder value. And actually these are not atypical cases. I can tell this story, as I said over over again, I could tell it of Britain’s GC dis distinguished from the American general electric and Britain’s British general electric company, which was Britain’s second largest industrial company in 1990. And which went essentially the same way as ice. I could tell a story like this, about Boeing. I could tell a story about this, about Sears. I can tell it over and over again.

John Kay:

What business is about is actually about creating great businesses. And that’s what Steve jobs and Jeff be resource and SEI Bri and Larry Page actually did. They weren’t about creating shareholder value. They were about building great businesses and they did, and they created masses and masses of shareholder value along the way. And that’s what the earlier generation of business leaders that had created these businesses actually did. It’s what Harry McGowan had done at ICI. It’s what Simon marks had done at marks and Spencer. It’s what red Jones and Ralph cord before Jack had done generally left. These are people who are dedicated to building businesses. British law actually says that the duty of directors is to promote the success of the company for the benefit of the members. And that’s the way round it is. If you create a successful company shareholders, and everyone else will benefit from that, I should probably end with from Jack Welch, who famously said eight years after we retired from GE in 2009.

John Kay:

And so the chickens were coming home to roost shareholder value used said is the dumbest idea in the world. Shareholder value was a result, not a strategy. And he’s exactly right on that. And that echoes the words of other people as well. People like Sam Walton, who said I’ve concentrated on and all on building the finest retailer company that could, we possibly could period, creating a huge personal fortune has never been particularly a goal of mine. And of course, Jim Bezos adopted the same approach that Sam Walton had adopted 40 50 years earlier with the same results, including particularly in Bezos case, creating a quite extraordinary personal, or to go back a bit further. You of George me the executive of the Merck pharmaceutical business many years, he said medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits. He said the profits to follow. And if we have remembered that they have never to appear the better we have remembered it, the larger they have been, that is what, in my view is the social responsibility of business to create great businesses, to create returns for investors, serve customers while are convincing for employees and the calculations of shareholder value. It’s not within the bounds of possibility that we could imagine actually undertaking them. Thank you.

Ross Butler:

Thank you, John. And finally let’s move to if you, yeah.

Guido Palazzo:

Yes. Thanks Ross. I couldn’t agree more with you, John. We at a few more companies maximizing shoulder value that would even go one step further in, in your list, like companies like Enron, Deutsche bank or Wells Fargo. So companies who maximize profits so much that at the end, they misunderstood the limits of what is right and what is wrong. And that’s very often a consequence of maximizing profit. I would, would like to do, to make another 0.1 that we haven’t heard before and one that refers to or builds on what Joanne said about seeing Friedman in a historic context. When I was writing my PhD thesis in the, in the middle of the 1990s for, I wanted to work on, on corporate social responsibility. And I wrote this thesis with a philosopher in the philosophy department, and I started to read all around what I find in political science, sociology philosophy.

Guido Palazzo:

And I was stumbling over a lot of analysis that had been written by political scientists like David held by philosophers like [INAUDIBLE] by, sociologists like Manuel castells or Urich back who were reflecting upon the profound consequences of globalization for our society. And then I went into the CSR, the corporate social through responsibility literature. And I was surprised that even if they went a bit further than Milton Friedman, they somehow reflected one thing. He had written in this article and they took it for granted as well that companies should follow, the, the roots of the game in their respective contexts, which is the laws and some, some moral roots that are necessary for economic transactions. So they should follow the law. What the other guys in these other scientists were telling us is, well, the nation state is disappearing. It is weakening, it’s eroding.

Guido Palazzo:

We have multinational corporations suddenly, and they are escaping this container of the nation state regulatory system. And nobody in the discuss on, on CSR had taken that into consideration. So what we now had was a situation that companies could pretty much escape from regulation because they could bargain with governments as they do until today. They could say, if, if, if you ask me too high taxes, I go somewhere else. If you have two strict on pollution, I can go somewhere else. So they became stronger than governments. They could run away from regulation to the lowest regulator. That was one thing. The other element that was striking me was that Milton Friedman had written this theory in the seventies part of it in the sixties already at the climax of the fight between communism and capitalism. And of course he was super extreme, cuz any step in the other direction, would’ve been unacceptable from that kind of position.

Guido Palazzo:

But what he had in mind was a theory of economic transactions within a well regulated context because at his time capitalism existed in, in, in Japan, in the USA in parts of Europe. So it was always embedded in more or less well-functioning democracies. Now with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, what happened was that corporations invented global supply chain management and they’re stretched out into regions like the Congo, which is a civil war region with no government in the parts where they dig the the Quan into Bangladesh, which is a highly corrupt and weak government all into China and, and other Iran that are repress regimes, at least partly so suddenly we had capitalism in context that had nothing to do with how mid Friedman saw the world in the 1970s. And the consequence was that companies suddenly were connected if not directly involved in all kind of human right violations and atrocities for which they would go to prison in their own countries.

Guido Palazzo:

And there was no one to regulate them because there was, there is no global regulator. There is just international law for governments, but not for private actors. So we moved into a kind of regulatory vacuum which made this idea of myth and Friedman highly dysfunctional that’s 0.1 0.2. If you look into this article and you look at how he is environmental issues, pollution, it’s almost funny. It’s a bit of pollution in the river. So, and if the government wants to regulate that for everyone to create a level playing field, then they should make a law. And then the pollution disappears. Now the world in which we are moving now is a world in which the pollution that for him was local and small and controllable is a threat to our very existence as a human species, just to go through a few bits of information from, from recent month and weeks today, the world, the WWF published a study in which they showed that 20,000 species of mammals, fish and bird have lost up to 70% of, of, of, of, of their, of their animals over the last 20 years.

Guido Palazzo:

A study in, in Germany that was published in nature, says that we have lost 80% of the insects in Germany. The us army published a study last October saying we are running into a, of the us army and the us infrastructure because of global warming within the next 20 years. Another study in science published in may this year says that most trees that are currently existing on this planet will not survive the next 40 years. So this is not the world in which you out the river a bit. And then there is a democratic government and that will step in and keep you from polluting it if necessary. This is a world in which we are collapsing because we have globalized the narrative of neoliberalism. So these are two elements that connect to, to, to globalization that in my view of course we not visible to him, but that make his theory today. Totally inappropriate. That’s it.

Ross Butler:

Great. Thank you very much. I’ve got lots to come back to you all on. But I wonder if I can just put one question to you all, which is, we all agree the responsibility has to be taken, but where does that responsibility reside? My reading of the article is not that no responsibility needs to be taken, that it doesn’t reside at the corporate level. Brad, please.

Brad Cornell:

And, and that’s my reading too Ross. I agree with that climate change is an absolute preeminent issue of extreme importance, but I don’t want to turn it over to managers of thousands of corporations. This is something that has to be done at the, the governmental level and probably at the international level and trying to have businesses weigh in on it when they’re not prepared. And don’t have legal standing is just not the way to go.

Ross Butler:

Guido

Guido Palazzo:

Look at some of these globalized supply chains. Imagine you are apple. And, and one of your suppliers is is a, a mining company in the Congo. And there is slavery and child labor and civil war around the minds. Now, who is the government who interferes and who should solve these problems, there is no government. So it has to be done by other actors. And who are these other actors? Well, the most powerful actor is in that context, the, the Western, my mining company can the Western mining company say, we just follow the rules of the game. Well, they could, but is that an acceptable argument today? I don’t think so. Or if you are a company that, that, that produces chocolate and you have your plantation or your farmers somewhere at ivory coast, and there is child labor all over the place can say, let the government solve that problem. Well, the go, you know, exactly what will happen. They will do nothing. They, they don’t have the power, they don’t have the will to regulate you further because you are more powerful as a corporation that kind of context that

Ross Butler:

Isn’t there. A isn’t there a third way. So we’re not saying that governments need to do it. We’re not saying that corporations need to do it, but corporations are made up of people and people can still take ethical decisions,

Guido Palazzo:

But who are the people? If, if you are Glenco the, the mining company in the Congo, who are the people who, who should be that person who is responsible in that case, it has to be the company I see. So it’s interesting,

Ross Butler:

I suppose, you know, that you have a CEO and the CEO owes in one sense, it’s a role, but in another sense, it’s a human being and the CEO as a role perhaps just has to follow corporate policy, but the CEO as a human being can take ethical decisions and take a moral stand. And so I wonder if there is that third way. And I think, I wonder if that’s what mil Friedman’s arguing. UJohn would like want to comment and John first, then Joe,

John Kay:

I’m not sure there is, in that sense a third way. We we’re confronted with two kinds of situations. One is the situation we have in Western democracy where I don’t agree with the proposition that where governments are failing to act appropriately, it’s up to corporations and to step up to the plate. And I think particularly in the United States, but also in much of Europe, a corporate influence on politics is not too small, but too large. I would like to get business the business of lobbying and Washington. And the way it moment on the Julio is talking about the situations we face in countries, where there is no government in the sense in which we mean government in Britain or the United States or, or Germany. And in that case, I think there is no alternative for countries which want to operate in the Congo to take his example of saying either we just accept, we can’t operate at all in these jurisdictions, or we have to take in these jurisdictions, some of the responsibilities, which would be taken on by a government if if there were a government in a meaningful sense in these countries.

 

John Kay:

So we have to be somewhere in between. And I think what companies have to do when they operate internationally is see if they can operate in a way, which is a good by local standard, but consistent ethical standards, which their executives, their shareholders, their customers would almost all subscribe to. And in way we may well be in some cases and the congos and getting sample of this, that it is simply too difficult to reconcile these and you can’t great there, but that’s a real dilemma which corporate executives have to face. And I don’t think Ross, there is another group of people who are in a position to make these kind of decisions. It’s the it’s the executives of the corporation, which wishes to operate in these jurisdictions to decide whether they can do it consistently with ethical behavior or not.

Ross Butler:

Didn’t make myself clear. I meant the same thing, not a third group of people, the same group of people taking individual responsibility, not hide, not sheltering under, under a kind of an artificial non-human construct, which is the corporation. And you can see there if, if they’re acting as individuals, rather than in the role of a CEO, suddenly they’re taking personal risk, cuz it could be that they’re going against what compliance is telling them, for example. And Joanne, anyway, let me move on to, sorry.

Joanne Ciulla:

Okay. Just a couple short points. First of all, in large corporations, there are whole separate units that are engaged in CSR of specialists and people who actually know the field. So it’s not like Friedman’s day where somebody decides to do something good. Secondly, we are living in a fascinating period in America right now because the current administration has dismantled a number of environmental laws. And what I think is gonna be interesting is you can burn dirty coal. Now you can put more pollution into the air. Now you can put coal dust into water and streams. This is all allowed now. So it’s all permitted. And the question is, are companies gonna say, oh boy, now, now you, the energy companies say, let’s, let’s fire up those old coal plants because we can use them now. Well, of course they’re not going to do it.

Joanne Ciulla:

So it’s, it’s kind of interesting. And then my last point, when you look at the financial services industry, it’s fascinating to hear them talk because the thing they really hate is getting regulated. And I think most businesses don’t like being regulated by the government. And I know in financial service they often say, well, look, we’ve gotta take care of this on our own or the government’s gonna step in and regulate us. So there’s a way again, in which businesses can think about this, that requires them to do things on their own speed and their own time within industries, without waiting for the government to step in and, and some find that highly proud.

Ross Butler:

Joanne, let me stay with you for a moment. You mentioned that Milton Friedman takes a bit of a zero sum approach and that sometimes social responsibility can align with corporate responsibility, but in such an instance there’s no conflict in the sense. There’s no moral, no dilemma. And so I, as it plays out, there’s, you know, you, you are not necessarily opposed with the, the Freeman world view. And let me add something to that as well, which is that the, the vaguely I agree, humorous conclusion to the article where he takes Umbridge with, with people kind of getting cued off from doing good things. <Laugh> but isn’t there a moral problem with that in Sofar as if you’re doing something because you want to look good. I E and therefore get a good reputation and therefore sell more stuff. Isn’t isn’t that somewhat imoral because you are, you are presenting yourself as someone that’s as an entity. That’s doing good because you are good, whereas you’re doing good in order to sell stuff.

Joanne Ciulla:

Well, Ross, that’s a very sophisticated, philosophical question you’ve asked me, and you sound like a good because in one theory of ethics, you know, the only good is when you do something entirely from good intentions, but there’s a whole lot of other ways to think about ethics. And if you take that view, then companies, you know, McDonald’s has a promotion and they say, we’re gonna give $1 to every, every sale of a hamburger to this charity. Well, they’re doing it to promote their hamburgers, certainly, but they’re still giving the money to charity Ross. And if we preclude that kind of moral action, then you’re just saying, oh, don’t give the money to charity because it benefits. Mcdonald’s, where’s, where’s the logic in that in terms of how companies operate. So yeah, you may hold your nose a little and say, you know, it kind of stinks.

Joanne Ciulla:

And I agree with that, but, and everybody nowadays knows the game. They know that companies often do promotions and they give to charity and they know that it benefits them in PR in terms of customers, it’s easier to recruit bright, young people to companies that behave this way. So there’s, there’s a whole lot of reasons why you do it, but it doesn’t make it unethical. And it doesn’t undercut the fact that you’re actually helping people. So that, that, that argument pops up all the time in business ethics. And I have to say, I have to take the utilitarian approach and say, well, do people actually benefit from it? And if the answer is yes, then it’s probably okay.

Ross Butler:

The trouble with that. And I find this particularly with ESG rather than CSR that it’s ESG is full of kind of performative contradictions because of this. Yeah, because people are able to, I keep saying people, corporations are able to wallow in the reflected glory of making moralistic statements and doing moralistic acts. But without actually living it or without actually doing a proper, you know, cost benefit analysis of such overtly charitable actions. We in a complex world can very often backfire. And if this is a project that we are undertaking at colosal scale, then, then I just think that little bit more thought rather than just, you know, reputational gloss needs to come into it. John, is that your hand?

John Kay:

It is this suit here, I think, which is that I, I agree that a lot of what is called CSR or ESG is essentially performative. And the classic illustration of that for me was I told I remember giving a talk about what happened at ICI in 2006, just before ICI finally disappeared. And I got a follow up a few days letter later in the form of a letter from a vice president for corporate social responsibility at ICI. And to paraphrase the letter said, we might have screwed up the business, but we did a great job on corporate social responsibility and include included the brochure, which we’ve all seen on corporate response, social responsibility, as it was then in this corporation printed on recycled paper with pictures of happy minority and diverse groups. Some of them in wheelchairs. And I thought you are so far from getting what the real corporate social responsibility of business is, which is to produce goods and services that people want. It is to give satisfying employment to the people who work there. It is to generate returns for investment. That’s what the social responsibility of business is about. It is not to subvert democratic governments either because in order to promote corporate interests or in order to remedy what they believe to be the deficiencies of democratic it, government it’s about running good businesses. And that’s what we need to focus on. And that’s my understanding of social responsibility in business.

Joanne Ciulla:

One response to that is that part of what we are arguing. And, and your example, Ross is yes. When, when are anything else is done badly, it’s done badly, but that doesn’t mean you throw it all out. And so, yeah, you’ve gotta do it, right. It has to be all of those things. I totally agree with you, John. It has to do all of those things and it has to be done thoughtfully. Yeah, some people do it badly. Some people do it in a phony way, but that doesn’t mean you throw it all out,

Ross Butler:

Right?

Brad Cornell:

Yeah. I wanted to, to stress too the point that much of value creation in business is about relationships. Like John mentioned Amazon. Well, I have a relationship with Amazon. I buy products from them all the time. They deliver them on time. If the product is shotty, they take it back. They make useful recommendations to me. So that much of business value creation is improperly managing your relationships with people. So there really isn’t in many situations, a conflict. If Amazon refused to take back a shotty product, I wouldn’t order the next one. If faced book, doesn’t protect my privacy I’ll log off. So value creation needs to be thought of in a, in a broad context, that includes human relationships.

Ross Butler:

I just keep coming back to this idea of look who’s heads on the block. You know, we are only 10 years out of a global financial crisis. And one more way of viewing that was that it was a, a result of collective responsibility. And one way of looking at that is that collective responsibility clearly means no responsibility, cuz I’m not aware of many people that you know, were sent to prison, for example, over the global financial crisis. And so is that not a warning at least that perhaps we need to be clearer on where responsibility resides. I’m sorry to ask kind of the same question again, but Guido go.

Guido Palazzo:

Well there two answers fir first I agree partially because since years I say in the very moment where managers of multinational corporations will go to of prison because they have slaves in their supply chain, slavery will stop in their supply chain. That’s one point. So we, we have to help hold managers responsible on the other side we give corporations all kind of rights and why, or shouldn’t we give them duties as well. And in a globalized world, these duties extend over their duties in a well regulated context. If you, if you give this responsibility to people companies can escape the responsibility and you put these people inside. The companies may be in, in, in a situation where they, they have to manage contradictory things. And that is not possible. So it has we, and as society, anyway, we do this already. We assign to corporations, the responsibility to keep their supply chains clean. We do this already and companies react to the price from civil society. So what we see right now is a changing context of how we assign legitimacy to organizations. And that is something that also is not considered into the calculation of myth and Friedman, if you don’t have legitimacy, that can be very expensive. Yeah,

 

Ross Butler:

John,

John Kay:

I think it’s perfectly clear what a responsibility for financial crisis lay and that was with the senior executives of very large financial companies. And the fact that they didn’t go to jail is a demonstration of the inadequacy of corporate law for dealing with these kind of situations. Not a QUT of that. And right. I I’ll tell, give two illustrations. I remember going to one event at which the chief executive of a major bank actually said, you know, we were just the waiters at the party and the remark, which I thought it would be inappropriate to to make was you’ve got quite, you’ve got tips that were quite more larger than the waiters at the party typically get, or another event right. This was a, another senior executive or a bank saying to me, gosh, the regulator should have stopped us from doing that. And I thought what ,uresponsibility for proper conduct for social responsibility lies with, senior executives of corporations. There shouldn’t be any doubt about that. And I think we have, unfortunately in the financial sector has been the extreme of this, got into a frame of mind in which if the corporations write very large checks in settlements that somehow reckon to absorb both the corporation and the more importantly, the individuals in the corporation from further responsibility for what they’ve done, I think we need to stop that.

Ross Butler:

John, you went into some detail in your opening remarks about the detrimental effect of perhaps a fixation with profit maximization that’s had on some notably large companies. I’m not sure though that that’s entirely in conflict with Friedman insofar as you can have a goal, you have a strategy and they’re, and they’re different things and you, your strategy may be excellent customer service, but if your goal is excellent customer service, then pretty soon the business doesn’t become is no longer sustainable in the kind of in the literal sense. And in that sense, Milton Friedman’s very simple focus on profits means that well, a very unsophisticated view of it, just if you’re going head long towards profits, yes, you’ll run a business into the ground. But if you view that as a goal, and then you have a sophisticated corporate strategy to get there, then they’re not necessarily incompatible.

John Kay:

No, I think that’s right Ross, but let’s remember how the Friedman doctrine actually went. And we ought to understand that the Friedman doctrine was actually part of what was essentially a concerted campaign in the 1970s and early eighties to create a different frame of reference for thinking about corporations. It goes along with the, the famous Louis Powell memorandum in 1971, which leaks back to the remarks you made earlier about Nader and the attack on corporations. The Friedman doctrine goes into the, the notorious Jensen article in 1976, which talks about the need to align incentives of of, of corporate executives, of those of shareholders, and which provides the basis for the widespread use of stock options and the explosive growth, then shareholder remuneration and the preoccupation with share prices on the part of the, on the part of senior executives. Now I made to, in response to Brad, the point that it’s very difficult to work out whether you are creating shareholder value or not, that if you believe seriously in the efficient market hypothesis, as many economists and most economists of the time do and did do and did then you don’t have to worry about that calculation because the market is doing it for you.

 

John Kay:

The stock price at the moment is the best estimate that could be made of the long term shareholder value that you created. So taking that set of arguments together, that was the basis of seeing management attention on what, what happened to stock prices. And that was what was behind the whole series of corporate failures and disasters, which I described. So, although it’s absolutely right to say that a sophisticated interpretation of the Friedman doctrine takes you into maximizing shareholder volume and over sophisticated application of the Weedman doctrine takes you back to say, this is about getting the stock price up. And what happened in the next 20, 30 years was corporate executives did focus on getting the stock price up, which for short periods they did. I described how Welch did I describe how green did I described how I see I did. We saw that playbook being played over and over again, always with the same, in the same way you get this short term sugar rush. Cause there are things that you can do that make the business look better in the short run. And they don’t mostly, they don’t certainly they don’t always, and they don’t often work out well in the long run.

Brad Cornell:

Well, the way I would respond to John in my view, maximizing shareholder values a little bit like going to sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, the solution is not to lie in bed and say, I’m gonna figure out how to sleep it’s to do something else. And I think John is right. What companies need to do is think about making their business as effective as possible. Warren buffet has often said, you create a great business by watching what’s going on on the field, not keeping your eye on the scoreboard because the market may get things right. May get things wrong. You really shouldn’t pay attention. You should do what Jeff Bezos does. And I think what John agreed to is do what you have to do to make a great business. And eventually a relatively efficient market will recognize you if you’re successful in that effort,

Guido Palazzo:

I just wanted to highlight a point that I made already. I think efficiency is not the only issue for companies and, and markets are not the only criteria they have to take into consideration when they make decisions because they have to be perceived as legitimate. If they’re not perceived as legitimate, they will run into all kind of limitations of what they can do. Just look at the tobacco industry. Their legitimacy is perceived as very, very low and in return for that, they are limited in what they can do by a lot of laws that other industries do not have a lack of legitimacy makes you less efficient creates costs. And that is a purely ethical thing. It’s how you are perceived in how you do things. Is it perceived as appropriate or not? So this is something, if you don’t keep it in mind, when you make decisions you create paradoxically pro profit problems. So you have to manage efficiency, profit, but also legitimacy.

Ross Butler:

Just wanna raise one. Oh, so go, go ahead, John.

John Kay:

Well, I think Guido’s made a very important point there, which is what has happened and it’s to, to some degree directly attributable to the Friedman doctrine is to undermine the legitimacy of business in the, of the public with this paradox at the moment that Google and Facebook each have 2 billion customers. Each that’s more than anyone has imagined any business having in the history of the world. And yet I can read every day, an article flagging off Google and Facebook, but in this where we love the products, but we hate the producers. And there’s something very wrong with that. And what business ought to be saying is not the social responsibility of a business it’s to maximize its profit. It’s saying the social responsibility of business is to make the contribu, which business can make to the community, which is producing goods and services that people want. It’s providing good returns to investors it’s providing satisfying employment for the people who work there. It’s making a proper contribution through corporate taxation, to the other activities of the community. That’s what responsible business in my book is about fall, right? And businesses presented a description of itself and Friedman takes a lot of responsibility for this, a description of itself, which is both repellant and full as a description of how good business actually operates.

Ross Butler:

I could make a, an entirely opposite argument for the deterioration of trust in businesses though, which is that rather than kind of a focus on profits, you, I think you’ll find that most of these large Silicon valley tech giants are very much focused on their social responsibility, certainly in their outward pronouncements. I mean, I think Google listed when it listed its corporate motto is do no evil and these places are full of what they call social justice warriors. These days, it’s deep within their culture to take social responsibility very seriously. And yet trust in these organizations is falling and falling. And so you could take the opposite view and say that people just don’t buy it. And they, they, they just don’t see a real world link between what these companies say and what, what they do. And if you could just come back and then Joanne.

John Kay:

Yeah. And that’s not very simple. One of the most incredible things happening at the moment is I don’t know whether anyone on this zoom has followed the case of it’s a class action led by Arkansas teachers against Goldman Sachs. And the basis of the class action is that Goldman Sachs ethics statement said, and still does say our client’s interests always come first. Now, the, the, the case being brought by Arkansas teachers and others is that it’s essentially, they were misled by this statement into thinking this was a respectable company, which would be a rewarding investment for Arkansas teachers and others, the defense, which is being put up to this and don’t get me wrong. If the defense is to say that actually is to provide a list of over 30 occasions on which conflicts of interest in, within Goldman Sachs were reported adversely in the papers.

John Kay:

So defense is producing this list of things in order to argue that the revelations that Goldman Sachs did not follow its ethics statement was well known, public information. That market participants didn’t take the statement seriously. And its what is in legal terms called am mere path. And the us chamber of commerce has actually weighed in with an Amika’s Curi brief in defense of Goldman Sachs, which says all companies make statements like integrity and honesty at the heart of our business. And they says, they say this actually almost defies belief that if the case against Goldman were to succeed, companies would in future make these statements at their per well, they should make them at their per they should make them, they should make them at their per and the way of dealing with it is not to say that these things are a mere puffs.

John Kay:

Like red bull gives you wings or Heineken refreshes the parts have a beers, cannot reach, which is what they are claiming. It is to say that these statements ought to be true about the business. And people ought not to make them if they’re not true. And if they’re not true, they probably ought not to be in business very well. But that’s what I mean by saying businesses presented itself as being birth repellent and thoughts. And that’s why people do not want business near the hospitals, those schools and, and indeed their water supply and their electricity business

Ross Butler:

Inflation is a problem. Just a different kind. Joanne, did you want to make a comment?

Joanne Ciulla:

Yeah. Just, just to comment on that, there’s, there’s another way you to look at your question and, and one of the reasons why people don’t like these companies is, is not only the SI it, it’s not their social responsibility statements alone, but it’s also the me size and wealth of these companies in a time of growing inequality. So I think there’s, there are social reasons why everybody’s getting very nervous about these large companies, as well as of course, some of the political reasons, certainly in the us that these companies are, are impinging on things like our privacy and other things. But I I’m glad that John brought up the, the Goldman case, cuz that is amusing. And I think every company on wall street is probably looking at their ethics statement to see if they can move up to it. And you know, it is a lesson to learn. I worked, I did a case study Harvard case study many years ago of a company that had their ethics codes on these beautiful big wall posters. All it was a manufacturing concern and it started with our employees come first. And as soon as I finished writing the case study, they shipped 500 jobs overseas. So, you know, <laugh> the question is what, what, what is our understanding of what companies say to people?

Ross Butler:

Great. I wanna address some of the audience questions now. Some people have suggested empowering stakeholders, such as employees on the board boards of trustees, et cetera, representing broader society. Do you see this as part of the solution or is potentially problematic due to conflicts of interest among stake themselves? Does anyone wanna tackle that?

Brad Cornell:

I’ll just say one thing about it and turn it over to my, my colleagues, but it certainly causes a big agency problem. And when you say employees, who, what employees, how are they elected? Why is it employees rather than customers or suppliers or distributors in a John Kay type of outlook? How do you actually make this work and work effectively? It seems like it would be very difficult.

 

John Kay:

I basically agree with that. I don’t think the way you make business take proper account of its stakeholders is to have representatives of all the stakeholder groups on the board to say we in the, in the shop floor at X, think the following indeed most, most people outside the management of the company and don’t have the expertise to make. So the kind of decisions of out the corporate strategy of the company that are needed, what we need is professional managers with a proper sense of the responsibilities of the job. And that’s what I think certainly what I would be arguing for

Guido Palazzo:

If you look at some economies who are working very well, like the German economy, what you have, there is a, a power balance between governments, worker, representatives and corporations. So I think the idea of giving power to workers to have a say in how companies make decisions isn’t that bad, it works, it works under certain conditions. And in Germany you have a good example for that, but we probably have to go much further Pula tour. The sociologist has recently written a book on the climate crisis where he says, well, we have to give stakeholder rights to nature. Otherwise they will never have a, a say on board. So it can be the river next to my factory. It can be a mountain, it can be a species that disappears. We have to give a voice to these actors as well in our decision making, if we don’t currently

Ross Butler:

Great, okay. We are actually, I’m afraid running out of time. So does it anyone want to go first in perhaps summing up their thoughts on this topic or from this conversation?

Brad Cornell:

I’ll start cuz I started the first time, but given what I’ve heard, it’s my view. We have some major problems related to business and society. And I think climate change is probably at the top of the list, but there’s there’s many others, but I just don’t see, particularly in light of John’s comment about Goldman Sachs and the Arkansas teachers, how turning more power over to corporations and asking them to make these decisions is the right way to go. I think we need fundamentally rethinking certain government policies include those dealing with climate and we should start there.

Ross Butler:

Great. Thank you. Who wants to go next?

Joanne Ciulla:

Well, since I was second, I might as well go next. I’ll follow in. Brad’s thinking here. Well first of all, I, I learned a lot from this conversation, so I wanna thank my co-panelists here and I guess, you know, there, there’s a couple things that gel together that really have to do with how we construct certain ideas. John, you talked about great companies and what great means and Brad, you mentioned something similar. What great means is really what’s on the table. Does does great mean taking into account the obligations that businesses have to their stakeholders and, you mentioned stakeholder rights. I actually prefer to think of it in terms of duties because rights are a political kind of construction. And so while I know that it has to be a kind of a notion part of what Friedman’s talking about is what is the business’ responsibility and with stakeholders, they do have responsibilities to different stakeholders and they, the stakeholders have that standing, whether they’re on committees or not like they are in Germany.

Joanne Ciulla:

I leave that question aside, but so, so I think what, what there is a consensus on is the great company has to be one that functions well and serves the purposes of giving goods and, and services to society. But great, but it’s a loaded term. And I think it’s a socially constructed term in terms of what society expects from business and what their obligations are. We haven’t talked about social media, but the awareness that people have of what businesses do nowadays is unprecedented for good or for evil. And so I think you can’t, you can’t be a socially responsible business unless you’re in business. That’s one thing and you certainly can’t ignore social responsibilities in business today because it will eventually be a detriment. So I think that in terms of Milton Friedman, I still admire some of the questions he’s put on the table that I think are serious and that we’ve touched on here. But I don’t think many companies can afford to follow his advice in today’s world.

John Kay:

That I think has taken the German case, which is parti really interesting because article 14 of the German basic law which is effectively the constitution of the federal Republic of Germany says that property confers obligations and must be used for the public will and interest. That means as BARR, Germany is concerned, Friedman’s article fails at the first hurdle because his very first paragraph is a comprehensive denial of that. One of the problems we have is that much of this debate has been conducted. It hasn’t been true this evening. But it is if you read if you read it in both the academic and the popular literature, much of this debate is conducted as if the only country in the world was the United States of America. And it’s not

Guido Palazzo:

Maybe I finish by saying what I always say to my MBA student. And some of them are here listening to us so they will hear it again. You have to imagine this Neo liberal ideology as a narrative, very similar to the narrative of the ancient Greek when they believed in the gods on on some Hills or whatever, it’s a narrative that is for a certain moment in time in history belief by many people, but it is not more based on facts than the story of the gods in the ancient Greek mythology. It, it says that markets regulate themselves. It says that markets are creating welfare for everyone. It says that we are rational egoistic actors. It says that governments are bad. It’s all kind of beliefs that are gather into one narrative. And it’s a myth, it’s a fairytale and we need a new one. I’m not saying it’s, it’s worse than other fairy tales. It’s just one that we need to replace because it is running out of steam right now.

Ross Butler:

Great. Thank you. I wasn’t going to, but maybe I’ll allow myself a brief comment as well. Well, first of all, it’s been absolutely fascinating. And I also learned a huge amount in the last hour. Thank you so much. But I guess on that last point, I would say that, you know, we do tell ourselves stories and one story we’ve been telling ourselves for at least 2000 years, if not, if not longer, is that the, the entity that navigates the moral landscape that is, you know, the world is the individual and the individual was the hero of the Bible, and the protagonist of the ancient Greek mythologies all the way up to about 30 years ago when it became the collective or maybe a hundred years ago. And so perhaps narratives do evolve, perhaps they need to evolve, particularly since the world’s changed so much. Thank you so much everyone it’s been absolutely fascinating. I feel like we need to do a follow up and perhaps we shouldn’t wait 50 years. But it would be great to do it in person at some point as well.

 

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