How would you characterize Timberland’s exercise of its corporate power in society? Is Timberland using its influence responsibility? If so, how?
• I would characterize Timberland’s exercise of its corporate power in society as “Corporate Social Responsibility”. Timberland is being socially responsible towards society and is acting in a way that enhances society. Timberland is practicing the “iron law of responsibility” which says that in the long run, those who do not use power in ways that society considers responsible will tend to lose it. The company is using its influence responsibly through charitable giving; cash and in-kind donations, and giving footwear to schoolchildren in Afghanistan, and sustainability issues.
Has Timberland balanced its economic and social responsibilities through its various programs, such as the annual Serv-a-Palooza event and sustainability goals? Are the company’s programs examples of enlightened self-interest?
• Serv-a-Palooza was an event that celebrated Timberland’s centennial anniversary where over 500 volunteers worked on various projects to support local New Hampshire communities and areas in Missouri afected by tornados. Timberland’s sustainability goals include reducing carbon emissions and using renewable energy sources. The two programs balanced Timberland’s economic and social responsibilities. By having a philosophy to further the interests of others and the communities that surround them. Timberland ultimately serves their own self-interest.
What are the arguments for and against Timberland’s social responsibility initiatives?
• Arguments for Timberland’s social responsibility initiatives include balancing corporate power with responsibility, improving stakeholder relations, and enhancing business reputation. Arguments against Timberland’s social responsibility initiatives include requiring skills businesses may lack and placing responsibility on the business rather than individuals. Although Timberland possesses power and influence, responsibility comes with power and they need to properly manage that power. As previously mentioned, Timberland is using its power responsibly by way of charitable giving and reducing their carbon footprint. By focusing on social issues Timberland has created strong stakeholder relationships and built a loyal customer base. Although one can raise arguments against Timberland’s social responsibility issues, they have done a great job of developing the most important intangible asset- their reputation.
If you were an executive of VF Corporation, would you support continuation of these initiatives? Why or why not?
• As an executive of VF Corporation I would continue to support the initiatives of Timberland to continue to establish trust amongst stakeholders. The current initiatives have been beneficial and have not had a significant cost to stakeholders. It is important that VF Corporation continue this philosophy and still allow stakeholders to profit from the company with little to no cost. The social enterprise created by Timberland has been extremely successful in improving human and environmental well-being. Not only does Timberland care about their local New Hampshire community, but they search all over the world to find ways to give back to society. If VF Corporation continues to support the social initiatives as they did in their first Serv-a-Palooza Timberland will surely be recognized as one of the country’s “Best Corporate Citiens.”