Last semester, I took a managing for sustainability course with professor Boyd that was everything I thought it would be: ways to be environmentally friendly, corporate social responsibilities, and the whole nine yards. It was awesome and exactly what I expected from the course. What I didn’t expect, however, was the impact that a small paragraph from a textbook for that course would have on me. On page 102 of Chris Laszlo’s book, “Sustainable Value,” there was little excerpt on a cement and concrete company (probably the last thing you’d expect to be mentioned in a sustainability book, right?) called “Lafarge.” Here I was reading about how socially sensitive companies like GE were and how sustainable Patagonia was, and he comes a concrete company in the midst of them.
Lafarge had acquired land for their new factory and had the delicate task of having to relocate the 72 families that lived nearby the Bangladesh community. This could’ve gone one of two ways: horribly or wonderfully. Fortunately, Lafarge is lead by extremely socially conscious individuals that deeply believe in the responsibility they have towards the well-fare of their employees. This Deontological mindset guided the company’s dutiful actions towards the community by going beyond the basic offer of monetary compensation for the lands as they provided primary level education for the children of the families and continuous healthcare fro all. Furthermore, they partnered with local associations to provide vocational training for the adults (mostly females) that would generate them income and stability in this time of change. The results today are a fully functioning school in the community, where there was none before, that provides free books and stationaries to the children. Government-level primary education is now commonly sought out and more easily achieved as Lafagre continues to invest into the social well-being of the community that it shares a symbiotic relationship with. In their sustainability report, the company’s goals ranged anywhere from doubling the number of female senior managers from 2003 to 2008, to being able to reach 50% of employees holding shares in this company that they invest so much of their efforts into. The encouraging stories go on and on and will be expounded upon further into the finished paper.
The reason why this company’s story is so impactful for me is because they took something as bare-bones as cement and made a company that literally cares for the education of the children and parents that aren’t even associated with their company by giving them what I would consider to be the most precious gift: education.In reading the CEO’s statements and analyzing the entirety and scope of the company’s actions, I truly believe that Deontological ethics plays a powerful role in the company’s decision-making processes. Their sense of duty to the families they impact with their presence echoes the essentials of Immanuel Kant as they treat the community as an ends unto themselves. My paper will continue to analyze the the many other socially responsible endeavors of Lafarge; using the World Cat search engine for Bucknell, I found a great source for implementing social responsibility through the lens of Deontology from a book titled “Kantian theory and human rights” by Reidar Maliks and Andreas Føllesdal. So far, it’s a perfect read for the way I want to guide my paper, but I am happy to hear any suggestions or comments otherwise. Additionally, I would like to insert Milton Freidman’s work as a commerce-minded counter balance to the arguments stated for Kantian ethics. All sources have been hyperlinked throughout the text. Again, I’m all ears!