“Tim Cook has got a lot of favorable press for confronting an investor group at the last Apple (AAPL) stockholder meeting and telling them that he does not check the ‘bloody ROI’ when he has to do the ‘right thing,'” Aswath Damodaran writes for Seeking Alpha.

“In fact, he went further and suggested that any investor that does not believe in Apple’s social mission should sell Apple stock. Since everyone else seems to have been selling Apple stock ever since Cook became CEO, I guess adding one more group to the mix will not make much of a difference,” Damodaran writes. “At the risk of sounding like a moral reprobate, I take issue with both what Cook said at the meeting, and how he said it… I am an Apple stockholder, I am not a member of the NCPPR, I am supportive of good environmental policies and find your response to be troubling, because it reveals a mindset that I would not want in the CEO of a company that I own stock in, for four reasons:”

1. Social responsibility comes with a price tag.
2. If you choose to be socially responsible, as a publicly traded company, you have to be transparent.
3. If you are transparent, and you truly respect your stockholders, you have to give them a say.
4. If you give stockholders a say in CSR spreading, and they tell you no, you have to listen.

“I want publicly traded companies to be socially responsible, but not at the expense of becoming basket cases, to bear costs being good corporate citizens, while being transparent about these costs, to trust their stockholders by giving them a say on whether they are okay with that mission, while taking no for an answer,” Damodaran writes. “I don’t want sanctimonious CEOs to define social responsibility for me, to be generous with my money and then refuse to let me know how much they have spent (let alone give me a say).”

“So, what should Tim Cook have done in response to the questions from the NCPPR reps? First, he should have responded with respect. After all, he is an employee, albeit a very highly paid and elevated one, and these are the owners of the business that he works at,” Damodaran writes. “Second, he should have conceded that Apple spends money doing the right thing and being socially responsible.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple’s Tim Cook and his dilemma over sustainability and climate change – March 3, 2014
Tim Cook gets angry over shareholder proposal for environmental spending transparency, says those who disagree should get out of Apple stock – March 1, 2014