When I think of the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility the first organization that comes to my mind is Dove. In 2004, Dove launched its incredibly successful “Campaign for Real Beauty.” The campaign was a response to research results which revealed that many women believe that standards for beauty have become limiting and unattainable. The campaign involved various advertisements which featured women who appear to be outside the stereotypical norms of beauty. Dove has also employed various communication vehicles to challenge the traditional standards of beauty and allow women to join a discussion about their feelings towards beauty.
Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign is clearly an example of stakeholder management that would be supported by Edward Freeman and rejected by Milton Friedman. Dove is responding directly to the social and ethical issues valued by its stakeholders, which in this case are its female customers. Dove feels that it has a social responsibility to respond to these ethical issues and help women gain self-esteem and see themselves as beautiful. And in an even broader scope, Dove’s campaign is an attempt to completely change our society’s stereotypes when it comes to beauty.
Because this campaign was so successful and had a direct effect on Dove’s sales, it is a great example of Freeman’s rejection of the Separation Thesis. The decision to launch this Real Beauty Campaign was clearly very ethical in nature, but it also had serious business implications and caused increased profits in the long run. This also clearly opposes Friedman’s notion that by engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility, companies are distracted from their primary obligation of long term profitability.
– Jackie D’Aquila