What Does It Profit Podcast

What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Spoiler alert: Nothing. This bible verse has endured over the centuries as a reminder that we can't put our price tag on what matters most. Yet, time and again, businesses have put profits above all -- leading our world to the brink of a climate catastrophe, an inequality crisis, and the greatest extinction of other creatures since the dinosaurs (except this time, the meteor is us). Can we align growing returns with the greater good? Former investment banker turned business ethicist Dr. Dawn Carpenter believes we can -- and that figuring out how just might save the world. In What Does It Profit, Dawn talks with the world's leading thinkers and researchers, entrepreneurs and executives, exploring the most innovative ways we can reconcile capitalism's demand for profit with the long term well-being of people and the planet. From socially responsible investing to conscious consumerism to business ethics in this age of extremes, Dawn is your guide to the cutting-edge ideas and experiments driving the purpose-driven business revolution. What Does It Profit?



Capitalism in Service to Human Rights (Steven Donziger)

We’ve reached the end of our second season.  This is the time when we take a pause and look back. In today’s episode, it means looking back to our pilot episode about shareholder activism and our Season 1 bonus episode called The Price of the Ecuadorian Chernobyl. This is the story of Chevron and the decades of oil dumping in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

In this episode, we jump back into this epic David and Goliath story and get to know Steven Donziger, the human rights lawyer at the center of all of it.

Why are we having this conversation now?  After losing its case, Chevron is seeking to hinder the collection of the judgment by filing a retaliatory lawsuit meant to silence and bankrupt the lawyer representing the Ecuadorians. It’s almost unbelievable.  Do the math. Chevron owes the Ecuadorians $9.5 billion, and it’s now demanding $60 billion from Steven.

As bankers, we are trained to follow the money. And we suspect that there’s more to the story.  We have a lot we could talk to Steven about. But in this episode, we’ll try to get to know Steven and find out how he managed to turn the tables and use the tools of capitalism in service to human rights. Maybe this is what’s really spooking Chevron, and dare we suggest might be spooking the entire petrochemical industry.


 2021-04-28  42m