awards

Andrew N. Liveris
September 19, 2016
Thank you so much for that kind introduction, Jerry. And thank you to Rabbi Schneier and everyone at the Appeal of Conscience Foundation for your work to promote freedom, democracy, and human rights around the world. It is a true honor to receive this award, and to share the stage this evening with President Hollande and Carlos [Slim]. In different arenas, in different ways, these two great men have been standing for a similar set of values around the world: a belief in the worth and the dignity of every human life, and our obligation – all of us – to advance human progress.

Tonight, I would like to begin with a question: What does it mean for a corporation to have a conscience? That, I know you will agree, is not an abstract question – one for the philosophers. It is a pressing and very practical question for many of us in our daily work – and indeed, for society as a whole. So what does it mean for a corporation to have a conscience? To many people, I am sure, this means a company should be committed to social responsibility and philanthropy. To others, I imagine, “conscience” is the wrong way of thinking about what a business is and does. But my career has led me to a different answer – one that feels to me more relevant today than ever before.

During my four decades at Dow, I have been lucky to be surrounded by many thousands of men and women of conscience, all over the world. They come to work every day and invest their values in their jobs – and go home at night with a deep sense of satisfaction that, through their work, they are doing good in the world. The truth is, a corporation begins as an empty vessel: it becomes whatever you fill it with.

And I believe that a corporation has a conscience when it is filled with – and animated by – a sense of obligation to humankind. At Dow, we take pride in being a corporation with a conscience. Whether we are working to provide cleaner water, safer food, or the lighter, more fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow, our entire enterprise is focused on delivering sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. Last year, we also launched our Sustainability Goals for 2025, and we plan to invest more than $1 billion toward meeting them in the coming years.

Indeed, given our scientific expertise, our global scale, and our financial resources, we at Dow firmly believe that we have a responsibility to help advance human progress. Because we know that chemistry holds the potential to solve nearly every major challenge that society faces today – except perhaps the political ones! Those will require a different kind of chemistry altogether… Of course, corporations will always have an obligation to make a profit and to reward their shareholders – otherwise we cease to exist. But I am pleased to report that the old mindset that companies have to choose between doing well and doing good has been revealed as a false choice. More than ever, in this era of sustainability, you can do well by doing good.

That is our philosophy at Dow. It is the center of our strategy and the key driver of our company’s future growth. It is, above all, what motivates us to come to work every day. And it is our way to help build a world that all of you – each in your own way – are building as well: a world of opportunity for all, wherever they live, whatever their background, whatever their system of belief.

Thank you again for this award. It is truly an honor for all of us at Dow.
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