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Monday, February 11, 2013

Strategic CSR - Guns

There isn’t much that can be said about the mass shooting at the Connecticut elementary school in December that hasn’t already been said. I thought the article in the url below, however, is an indication of the ripple effects of both the extreme nature of the tragedy, as well as the public debate it produced. Soon after the shootings, and after an apparent shift in the political debate about limiting gun ownership in the U.S.:

“An official at the California teachers’ pension fund, which has $750 million invested with the private equity firm, Cerberus Capital Management, was on the line, raising questions about the firm’s ownership of the Freedom Group, the gun maker that made the rifle used in the Connecticut school shootings. Hours later, at 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Cerberus said that it was putting the Freedom Group up for sale.”

This is not necessarily a good example of a firm making a decision based on any sense of social responsibility, but it does demonstrate a sensitivity to the concerns of a key stakeholder in a way that is notable, simply because it is uncommon:

“The move by Cerberus is a rare instance of a Wall Street firm bending to concerns about an investment’s societal impact rather than a profit-at-all-costs ethos.”

What makes the decision even more striking is that the financial impact of the decision is not at all clear:

“Yet in a sign of how deep the shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn., has resonated throughout the country, Cerberus signaled that it wanted to remove itself from the uproar over the nation’s gun laws in seeking to sell Freedom, which makes the Bushmaster rifle used in the massacre.”

This may simply be a ‘moment in time’ and, after a suitable period, things return to ‘normal.’ Even as an exception, however, the decision demonstrates the essential nature of corporate stakeholder responsibility—stakeholders holding firms to account for their actions in ways that better reflect the values theys eek to encourage and preserve.

Additional reporting on this story is available at:

Take care

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Dropping Its Guns
By Peter Lattman
December 19, 2012
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final