Many people who oppose corporate social responsibility believe that the only true purpose of business is to maximize profits for shareholders, and that any company that engages in social activism or other non-profit activities detracts from this goal. They also believe that the skewed view of company morality encouraged by CSR programs leads to bad business decisions, which can ultimately harm the company in the long run.

The most common argument against CSR is that it violates the free market philosophy of capitalism. This philosophy is based on the principle of limited government, the separation of business and state, and protection of private property. Proponents of this view argue that companies that are not focused solely on profit will never provide a full range of products and services at competitive prices, which could negatively impact consumers.

In an article in the New York Times from 1970, Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman argued that “the only social responsibility of businesses is to increase profits.” This position is often referred to as the Friedman doctrine.

Some critics of CSR also take issue with the way in which companies attempt to show their commitment to the community through philanthropic endeavors such as local activism, employee assistance programmes and occupational maternity pay. They point out that these types of programs often distort the company’s core operations and can cause more harm than good by creating an unnecessarily complicated operating environment.

Others take issue with the fact that some companies are using CSR initiatives to promote their image as environmentally friendly, but their real motivation is to avoid regulation and taxes. They also argue that a company’s actions cannot have a positive impact on the world if it is involved in the production of harmful substances, such as fossil fuels or automobiles.