What Will the Financial Crisis Mean for Corporate Social Responsibility?

Wall Street Crisis In view of the current financial crisis, it is hard to grasp the fact that overnight investment banks once regarded the kings of Wall Street, are teetering on the edge of stability. The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers has threatened the survival of Morgan Stanley in spite of the fact that it has just declared great earnings. All eyes are on Morgan and Goldman Sachs, the two big I-banks left standing. Will they go next? What will this mean for corporate social responsibility in the investment banking sector?

Investment Banks have long been the entrepreneurs of Wall Street. Sure they take risk but then look at the return that they bring. In a capitalistic society, who doesn’t respect the work of an entrepreneur? Time and again they have been instrumental for fueling the economy. A high return on investment has enabled many of the investment banks to show a solid to commitment to corporate social responsibility in the last few years:

  • Lehman Brothers partnered with Spelman College a year ago to create a center for Global Finance and Economic Development at the college to prepare women of African descent for successful careers and leadership in the corporate world.
  • Morgan Stanley announced last year the creation of the Morgan Stanley Carbon Bank to assist clients seeking to become carbon neutral.
  • Goldman Sachs has just announced 10,000 women, a series of non-profit and academic partnerships that provide business an d management education to women in Brazil, India, China and the Philippines.

There has been much question about the Fed refusing to bail Lehman out for a paltry amount in comparison to what it was willing to pay to bail out AIG. Although their claim is that it is not socially responsible to bail out an investment bank with taxpayer dollars, the larger questions lies in that is it socially responsible for the Fed to allow the entrepreneurs of Wall Street to fail when they are actually working to serve society by demonstrating commitment to CSR?

Related Posts:

Lehman Brothers Collapse: New Economic Architecture Required
Establishment of the Lehman Brothers Center for Global Finance and Economic Development at Spelman College
World Economic Forum Honors Social Entrepreneurs and Calls For Fast Reform

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5 Responses to What Will the Financial Crisis Mean for Corporate Social Responsibility?

  1. I’ve been reading along for a while now. I just wanted to drop you a comment to say keep up the good work.

  2. Andrew says:

    Reenita,

    Despite the (fair enough) criticisms of the industry, I do not feel that any fair minded individual could dispute the constructive and pivotal role that the investment banking profession has played in the global economy.

    It does appear likely that both corporate donations, as well as the making of new financial commitments to worthwhile social projects, will be significantly curtailed in the financial sector for the time being. It has to be – survival, along with the return to sound financial sustainability, must take priority over CSR spending for now.

    Whilst corporate social responsibility involves considerably more than simply allocating financial resources to social projects, I suspect this is one aspect of CSR which will face a significant degree of curtailment in the near future.

  3. admin says:

    Andrew,

    I could not agree with you more. It is a pity though – many industries are just comin around to the idea of taking CSR and green business values seriously.

    It is good to hear from you.

    Reenita

  4. admin says:

    Susan,

    Thanks for your note, and might I add, what a great and useful blog you have! I often write for ‘Hybrid Mom.’ I would love to point out your blog to women out there. You give us all the right answers before we even ask the questions!

    Best,

    Reenita

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