Occupation Wall Street

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Not too long ago I did an exercise in a small business class where students talked with each other about companies that had a negative image. A friend of mine mentioned that Goldman Sachs had a bad reputation and another classmate responded, "Really, you think so? I think they're one of the best banks on Wall Street."

The situation summed up the divide I see among business school students. One group is driven entirely by success and the other deeply believes that businesses have a social responsibility.

That divide pretty closely correlates with who is following the Occupy Wall Street protests, and who is ignoring or unaware of them. I have classmates in both camps, and they face different career paths. One group strives for banking and corporate careers, whereas the second pursues non-profits and start-ups. There is little room in between.

Coming from a small rural community and a working lower class family, for a long time I have dreamed of being successful without losing where I came from or regretting how I got there.

The problem is that there are very few options to accomplish both of these goals.


It's the middle of recruitment season at my school, and most of the hiring is by big companies. A job with one of them almost certainly means I will have to compromise my social values. And starting my own business when I'm looking for economic security is not a great alternative.

I don't see this changing soon.

But I am optimistic about the future and believe the Occupy Wall Street protests may signify a starting point. But whether they could fundamentally change business, I'm not convinced.

Economist Milton Friedman said, "there is one and only one social responsibility of business... to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game."

I don't think I will live in an age where most companies are not solely concerned with profits. I don’t think the Occupy Wall Street protests will be able to change business, but I do hope they can change the rules.

With a Perspective, I’m Jesse Bussell.