daring
to ask
There is a tough question few people are inclined to ask. Does a company’s short-term bottom line rank above the public’s wellbeing?

It is a question many are hesitant to pose because it runs counter to one of today’s most defining business trends – outsourcing. Well, Aleda Roth, Burlington Industries Professor of Supply Chain Management, is not one to hold back when it comes to her research. And, she passionately believes that sourcing of food products and ingredients from other countries where oversight is lax (if it even exists) – and especially, in emerging markets where water and air pollution are rampant – can be a huge negative. She says, in her direct style, “The typical American just assumes food safety – and yet, this notion may be misguided. For most processed foods you buy in the supermarket, the country of origin for all their ingredients is unknown. Unfortunately, many companies are unwilling to disclose this information to consumers, even when queried. It can be scary.”

No, she is not anti-business – quite the contrary. “My point is that for businesses to be successful in the long run they must improve – not undermine – quality of life in society,” she explains. There is a heightened role for corporate social responsibility and full transparency when it comes to the food we eat. In other words, what’s healthy for the customer is healthy for the company.

Ironically perhaps, it was not a person but a pet that initially got her on the bandwagon.

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Clemson's ranking in terms of students’ return on investment, as rated by SmartMoney in 2012.

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