We live in a complicated world

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And one in which doing good can have ramifications that aren't quite so good. Check out When Your Meetings and Events Cause Harm by Doing Good, in which Keith Johnston wades through a beagle puppy forest (you have to read the post, really!) of contradictions and complications involved in a Starwood/Coca-Cola CSR project. While the project itself produces good, you may or may not find some of the people and things the companies involved support objectionable.

Commenter Jacob Worek does a great job of outlining the options of how to respond to the dilemma:

"If you're going to make business decisions based upon who or what a company supports politically, you need to go all in...every purchase needs to be scrutinized, and no business should be done with ANY offending parties. A letter of protest or reservation may make you feel better, but isn't going to change anything at all. Withholding your money from them might.

"Or accept that doing business in America is inherently a murky pursuit, and trying to maintain ethical purity of your purchasing decisions will undoubtedly lead to decision paralysis or insanity. And counter any dollars spent with offending companies not with letter, but donations to those parties and groups you support."

While this is all well worth talking about, ultimately today's corporate world is so convoluted, with most companies supporting things we both agree and disagree with, that I think most of us just go with the immediate good of, in the case Keith talks about, the CSR project. Unless, of course, the company (or meeting destination, or other entity) is known for doing something so egregious to your attendees and/or something that has caused great public uproar that attendees would revolt. While I do know a few people who live their lives in accordance with the first worldview Jacob outlined, those who don't end up with "decision paralysis or insanity" as a result are few and far between. I think most of us do the best we can to live and make business decisions ethically in a very murky world.

Update: And then I get a link to this article from Forbes' CSR blog: Gender and Ethics in Advertising: The New CSR Frontier?. To the organizations the post calls out for their pathetic, sexist ads: Thanks for making it easy to decide not to do business with you.

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