The Fourth Sector as a Way for Companies to Survive, Sustain and Thrive

Milton Friedman, an American Nobel Memorial Prize winner in Economics, once said, “There is one and only one social responsibility of business - to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stay within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud”. To a great extent, Friedman’s view is still very relevant to contemporary business climate as profits provide the primary engine oil to lubricate the company.

As a result, to ensure business survivability and sustainability, Friedman’s argument on “open and free competition without deception of fraud” may be difficult to achieve unless companies have strong leadership with an immaculate value system deeply embedded within the heart of the organization.

In addition, the continuous pressure from traditional shareholders demanding higher returns further drives companies to seek “unconventional” ways to meet their demands. The question is thus whether this mode of operating its business is sustainable. In the long run, how will it impact the company’s “license to operate”? Is it true that companies only exist to increase its profits? How did companies like Ben & Jerry, Body Shop, Patagonia, Interface, etc manage to turn the table around & create success for themselves?

What is the Fourth Sector and how can it help companies to do better? In this presentation, we try to explore some of these concerns and take a peek at how Fuji Xerox makes a concerted effort to move towards a more profitable and socially responsible company.

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