Closer to be perceived as a “Social Cause”

Bradley is right to be excited for the phone call he received from a socially responsible investment company. While social responsibility has become a big issue for many companies, corporate reports focus mainly on projects to protect the environment, to sustain developing countries and to improve working conditions of their employees and contractors. So far, use and support of Free Software doesn’t appear in social responsibility reports. Companies instead mention more and more their support to Free Software (often using the term “Open Source”) in their marketing brochures. As a bad result, many people believe that Oracle is an ‘Open Source’ company, together with Google, nVidia and Intel since these have ‘Linux’ and ‘OSS’ all over.

I think we need a way to measure how close the actions of corporations are to the values of the Free Software movement and put such measure into corporate reports. We might discover that what they do is (or is not) far away from what they say in their brochures.’  This index (call it Free Software Fairness Index) could serve as a basis for classification of Free Software Business, on which socially responsible investment funds can decide to invest. This FSF Index could be an indicator of the adherence of the companies’ actions to the principles of the GNU Manifesto.

It’s not simple to summarize real life actions into a number, but there examples out there that we can draw inspiration from.’  What do you think?

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3 thoughts on “Closer to be perceived as a “Social Cause”

  1. Stefano, I am afraid there is no easy way to determine such index, but it is interesting that the “willingness to contribute to FLOSS” is getting into the consideration map of social responsibility.

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  2. Roberto, I’m not implying that it would be simple. Quite the contrary, it’s a complex matter. But not less complex than estimating the environmental impact of a nuclear plant. At the moment I’m thinking that some indicators can be gathered from OLOH reportings (contributed lines of code and man/month to existing projects). Other indicators can be donations to relevant players, like FSF or SFLC or OIN. I’m confident there is a way to create such index.

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