Branson on CSR and Reputation

Not surprisingly, Richard Branson is always one of the old reliables when it comes to people choosing their ‘most admired business people’. 

It’s not by mistake.  Branson represents one of the most acceptable faces of business.  He’s an entrepreneur, an adventurer, a risk taker, but most of all he’s a great boss and by all accounts a nice person.

He was at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles yesterday and I’m always interested in hearing what he has to say.

Two particular parts of his interview were interesting.

His view on how businesses can become a force for good:

Well, I think when you start a business the only thing that really matters is survival. You shouldn’t have to worry about trying to rescue and sort out other people’s lives, just make sure that you can make your business survive. Once you’ve gotten past the survival stage, then I think we can’t in the past people left it up to politicians, and social workers to sort out the problems of the world, and businesses just created jobs and the wealth. I think now, what a lot of good business leaders have realized is that all businesses must become a force for good. And small businesses can be a force for good in their local area, bigger businesses nationally, and even bigger businesses internationally, because enormous wealth can come with being a successful business leader. And, therefore, enormous responsibility goes with that wealth.

At Virgin, you know, we use our entrepreneurial skills to look at some of the seemingly intractable problems in the world, and see if we can tackle them differently than they’ve been tackled. So, conflicts in the world, and there haven’t really been really good conflict organizations going in to resolve conflicts.

His view on the importance of reputation:

Well, your reputation is all you have in life. So, your personal reputation, and the reputation of your brand. And, you know, if you do anything, anything that damages that reputation, you can destroy your company.

Pretty simple and straightforward.

You can read the full transcript here.