#Metoo and the Convergence of CSR and Profit Maximization
69 Case Western Reserve Law Review 895 (2019)
15 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2019
Date Written: July 17, 2019
After allegations that Harvey Weinstein had sexually assaulted many women appeared on the front page of the New York Times in October of 2017, the #MeToo movement began in earnest. Nowadays, allegations implicating #MeToo concerns as to a company’s employee, whether or not involving illegal behavior, may result in swift firing or reprimand; in any event, such allegations cannot appear to be taken lightly lest the company’s reputation suffer. Lawsuits and shareholder activism are increasingly focusing on “toxic” “boys club” cultures at workplaces, and going beyond misconduct to consider other issues relating to gender such as board diversity.
This development has broader implications for the debate as to whose interests corporations should be serving: should corporations be solely or primarily focused on profits for shareholders or should they also be taking into account the interests of other stakeholders? In previous work, I have argued that the increasing emphasis on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns is leading to a convergence between these supposed alternatives; here, I make the case with specific reference to #MeToo, outlining a rhetorical strategy by which the convergence might be more successful.
Keywords: corporate social responsibilty, CSR, environmental social and governance, ESG, profit maximization, sexual misconduct, #MeToo
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