Why Your Next Corporate Hire Should be a Moral Philosopher
(This article originally appeared on Quartz@Work 03 February 2020)
Oil and water are, famously, not great mixers.
Nor, it seems, are oil and theatre, which became apparent when the Royal Shakespeare Company announced it would no longer take sponsorship money from oil mammoth BP. Shortly after, the company severed its relationship with Shell.
What the theatre’s namesake would have made of all this—like most things to do with the clouded life of the playwright—is difficult to know. As well as being a writer and actor, Shakespeare was a skilled entrepreneur, developing profit-share schemes, patronizing the wealthy and their institutions, and negotiating commissions (or “sponsorships” as we call them today) to underwrite his work.
Was Shakespeare squeamish about who to take money from? We can’t know that, either. His plays famously wrestle with some of the great moral dilemmas of all ages. But the quandary of how to respond to the existential threat of a climate emergency, with all its potentially devastating impact on millions of species and billions of human lives, is one that Shakespeare never had to consider.
To navigate this age of corporate-social existentialism, any CEO today is being called on to add a new skill-set to their CV: that of the moral philosopher.