Photo from NPR: Wall Street

Corporate Corruption…Progess from Occupy Wallstreet

A commonly held opinion among my millennial peers is a shared hatred for industry, corporations, and government. Call us naïve, reckless, emotional liberals, but the truth is we are scarred from the woes of socioeconomic and political inequality resulting from the capitalist system we have in place.

I will not try to argue that corporations are good or bad, but rather take a look at how we can hold them more accountable and create shared values between consumers and companies.

While the Occupy Wall street movement might be labeled “anti-capitalist;” it’s goals are to reduce the influence of corporations on politics, balance distribution of income, create more and better jobs, forgive student debt, and reform the banking system. Some of the goals are loftier than others, but the cause behind the movement is achievable. We can make major progress if corporations strategically position themselves in a way that is beneficial for both shareholders and consumers.

The idea of creating shared value according to Harvard Business Review is that companies could bring business and society back together if they “generate economic value in a way that also produces value for society by addressing its challenges. A shared value approach reconnects company success with social progress.” [1] A great example of a company that has made tremendous economic profit while protecting the environment and benefiting society on a whole is Patagonia. In fact, Patagonia could not have made such profit without its humanitarian and environmental values because its values attract more sales.

There are many other ways companies can structure themselves to create shared value and maximize profits. Even an oil company, which is inherently negatively, impacts our environment, can position itself to become more sustainable and thus gain a competitive edge.

We do not need to throw away our capitalist system in hopes of adapting a form of socialist system. If we restructure our corporate landscape to merge values with societal needs then we can begin to solve the demands of Occupy Wallstreet.

[1] https://hbr.org/2011/01/the-big-idea-creating-shared-value