“How do poor people survive in a material world? How do companies intersect with impoverished consumers?” Avoiding judgment and approaching the topic “with humility and respect,” Ronald Hill, Ph.D., posed thought-provoking questions during his talk at Falvey Memorial Library on Sept. 11, as part of the Library’s endowed chair lecture series.
Dr. Hill is a professor of marketing and business law and senior associate dean of intellectual strategy for the Villanova School of Business, and recipient of the Richard J. and Barbara Naclerio Endowed Chair. The lecture was titled “Poverty and Consumption: How Corporations Can Create a Better World.”
Emphasizing our common interest in improving our world, Dr. Hill offered three questions as a point of inquiry: “What would a better world look like? How does our current state differ? How can corporations fill in the gaps?”
A better world, Dr. Hill continued, would promote “consumption adequacy.” A term he coined, consumption adequacy includes greater opportunities for people of all nations to access living wages and meaningful work, available and affordable healthcare, and universal access to education and learning—free from discrimination. Consumption adequacy also encompasses such basic needs as sufficient housing and shelter, access to public water and acceptable sanitation, and adequate food and nutrition.
Corporations such as Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft do help to fill in the gaps with their philanthropic initiatives. But, Dr. Hill added, “organizations that do the right thing” receive disproportionately little notice while “organizations that do the wrong thing” receive too much attention.
After contemplating such broad concerns, one audience member asked, “How can one person make a difference?” Dr. Hill responded, “As you go through your careers, think about whose lives you are touching and how you’re touching them.”
Contributed by Gerald Dierkes
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