Twitter founder says consumers want transparency, social responsibility from big businesses| Sep 24, 2014
Consumers and employees are demanding more transparency and social responsibility from big corporations, said Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of Square and co-founder of Twitter, at a discussion on Wednesday.
Dorsey spoke as part of a panel entitled “Be the Change: Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy.” Besides Dorsey, the panelists were Deb Dugan, CEO of (RED), and Chris Kuenne ’85, a Keller Center professor and the CEO of Rosemark Capital Group.
Dorsey explained there is now a need for companies to be mindful of everything going on in the community.
“We have to focus on our element of the equation, but we can’t end the sentence there,” he explained. “We have to be inclusive of everything that’s happening in the world.”
Dorsey added that he had to set an example for his company as well, explaining that employees of Square go out every Friday to pick up trash on the streets of San Francisco.
Dugan added that companies can no longer get by with the same social accountability standards they held in the past.
“It used to be that maybe [companies] would set up a foundation and write a check, but now people look at how they order supplies, or are they killing trees, or are they recycling,” Dugan explained. “This generation is demanding more."
“The company becomes a platform for doing good well beyond serving its customers,” Kuenne added.
Dugan added that consumers were now demanding social responsibility across all aspects of the company and not just in the sector the company was in.
“It used to be that if you were in Unilever, you were concerned about water, and if you were with Disney, it was the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” she explained. “Now, employees are demanding social responsibility across the board — how you hire, how you treat your employees, that you care about the world.”
Dugan also explained the importance of marketing in creating social change, attributing some of (RED)’s success to their talking to the marketing heads of many popular brands, rather than to the heads of the companies’ foundations. Dugan also noted the success of the recent Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS.
Dorsey, Dugan and Kuenne all spoke about the rise of B-corporations, the corporate form for companies that want to consider social good in addition to profit in their decision-making procedures. Dugan noted that the presence of such B-corporations improved transparency among these companies.
Dorsey explained that he personally looks for transparency in companies with whom he partners, noting that many companies are now releasing “report cards” that show how companies are upholding their social responsibilities.
“It’s always profitable to hide information from people,” Dorsey explained. “Without that sort of transparency, we’re always worrying about what’s coming next,” he added.
Dugan noted that in countries such as India and South Africa, it is mandatory for companies to give a certain percentage of their money to social causes and explained that people in the United States could begin to demand that as well.
Dorsey, Dugan and Kuenne all emphasized the importance of listening in leadership, noting that the best leaders are all open to feedback.
“One of the key points of leadership is being humble and being a student of the game,” Kuenne explained. “It’s really important that you listen, listen, listen,” he added.
The discussion took place at 6 p.m. in McCosh 50 and was hosted by the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club.