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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/or-is-it-a-business-that-takes-its-roles-and-17213125.aspx

Subject:  Re: What is a Sustainable Business? Date:  5/13/2002  9:00 PM
Author:  Inahaze Number:  1641 of 1656

Or is it a business that takes its roles and responsibilities within the community within which it operates as equally important as the bottom line; making money?

Thorny issue, this. One I've wrangled with personally and when trying to convince others that business can indeed "walk lightly" on the Earth.

I like your definition because it hits at the heart of what has become something of a conundrum: in order to do good, a business needs to do well; in doing well, however, doing good seems so easily subordinated to increasing the "well." At some point--perhaps when it has grown beyond the point where the individuals with similar ideals can no longer hold onto the reins? or when it is swallowed up by some Wall Street deathstar?--all sight seems to get lost of what was once an important part of why the business was founded. (For example, what's up with Sears and Land's End? Am I being naive in thinking that a genuinely upstanding company has buckled under?)

I bring this up because I continually find myself banging my head up against this seeming incompatibility between capitalism and enlightened business. Am I simply too lazy (or overwhelmed) to delve sufficiently deeply into industries and companies to determine if what they really do is the same as what they say they do)? Or--and this I suspect is closer to the truth--am I too afraid of what I may find. My tendency toward the cynical doesn't leave me with a lot of hope that I will find that tangent where the well-meaning grazes the well-to-do.

Thanks for bringing this up.
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