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What Does It Profit Podcast

What Does It Profit Podcast

Author: Dr. Dawn Carpenter

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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?
21 Episodes
The winds of change are blowing in corporate governance. Where will they take us? Time will tell. This week we have a shareholder perspective from a man whose name is well-known in the investor relations offices of many of the most well-known corporations in America. We like to call him a dean of the Shareholder Rights Movement, others like to call him a corporate gadfly. You decide: corporate gadfly or an inside progenitor of the next generation of capitalism. Shareholder Activist, James McRitchie.
In 2020, JP Morgan CEO, Jamie Dimon’s tenure at the helm of the Business Roundtable expired. But what about this whole new way of doing business? In 2021, shareholder activists put the stakeholder governance paradigm to the test, and JP Morgan said, no. The whole issue got us thinking. It’s time for an update on this new vision for a stakeholder approach to corporate governance.  We talk with someone very familiar with what’s been going on, Reuter’s corporate governance reporter, Jessica DiNapoli.
In this episode, we're not talking about bulls or bears.  We're talking about the big, fat elephant in the room.  The finance industry is ethically-conflicted. We talk with JC de Swaan, hedge fund investor and Princeton finance ethicist, about Robinhood, Wirecard and a few other notable companies-- as a way to frame how to do finance better.  The hope is to inspire the idea that finance can be a force for good. 
In this episode, we explore the idea that everyone who has retirement assets should have the ability to know where their money is invested and how it has an impact in the world.  With knowledge comes power-- the power to make sound economic and moral decisions. Our guest is Congressman Andy Levin, Vice Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee and author of legislation that could make that happen.
In this episode, we’re going to a difficult place.  How do we as a society express-- or dare we say-- determine the value of a human life?  The question itself forces us to make an important distinction between economic value and moral value. And to help us sort through this, we couldn’t think of anyone better than the Special Master of the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund-- Ken Feinberg. He is arguably the world’s leading expert mediator between the bank and the tragedy.
We start our second season with one of the most notorious narco money men in US history, Jorge Valdes. We hear the story of how a 10-year old Cuban refugee becomes the youngest person to work at the Federal Reserve Bank in Miami and who then goes on in the '70s and '80s to run the international operations of the Medellin drug cartel. Jorge is one of only a handful of the leadership from that era who is still alive to tell the tale-- and Jorge's story has lessons for all of us.
Season 2 Trailer

Season 2 Trailer


Welcome to those who have just found us... and welcome back to our loyal WDIP listeners.  This three minute trailer takes a tour through some of what we learned in Season 1 on our quest to explore the moral and social value of business.  Season 2 promises introductions to voices you might never imagine on a business show.  Think of it as Business Talk 2.0-- listen with your conscience.  Join us for new episodes on Wednesdays.  Season 2 launches January 20 2021. 
In this special bonus episode, we revisit an issue we explored in the first episode of the season and talk with Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams about her work to engage with Chevron at its 2020 annual shareholder meeting, using her activist shareholder voice to urge for Chevron shareholders to be able to call special meetings to discuss significant issues affecting shareholder value.  In this case, it happens to be the over $3 billion the company has spent evading is over $9 billion obligation for its role in perpetrating what is described as the Ecuadorian Chernobyl and going after the human rights lawyer, Steven Donziger, who was brave enough to take on the case.
In this episode, we rewind the clock to pre-COVID days and take an "audio" vacation to the Amalfi Coast of Italy.  We talk with culinary entrepreneur Chiara Lima of the famed Mamma Agata Cooking School in Ravello. Family businesses can be found all over the world, and here in Italy the "happy hands" of the entire family are involved. Buon Natale... Saluti!
In this episode, we talk with CSR and sustainability legend, John Elkington.  John takes us beyond his "people, planet, and profit" to the "U-bend" and on to the green swans that bring us regenerative capitalism.  John is one of the world's leading futurists and is here with us to share his hopeful vision for the future.
In this episode, we talk with Lisa Mensah, President and CEO of the Opportunity Finance Network about "finance justice."  We talk about how the struggle for justice in our country has much to do with money.  We talk about the work of CDFIs (Community Develop Financial Institutions) and the role that they play in fostering economic justice in some of our nation's most challenged and disinvested communities.  She offers a vision for a path forward and celebrates and encourages participation with some unlikely partners. (Special music credit in this episode goes to Peter Collins. Listen to more on Spotify.)
In this episode, we talk with Cat Berman, CEO and co-founder of CNote, a specialty investment firm that seeks to turn idle savings into resources for change. Cat left her role at Charles Schwab to use her finance and investment skills to bring high-quality financial products to underserved markets.  Cat discusses the transformative power of finance and the multiplier affect of strategic investments.
In this episode, we talk with former BlackRock executive, Morris Pearl, about his crusade to enlist his fellow millionaires to support the idea that even the rich see it in their interest to pay more taxes. Capitalist to the core, Pearl warns critics not to conflate paying taxes and civic duty with the naughty scare-word: socialism.
In this episode, we talk with business ethicist Kirk O. Hanson about corporate misbehavior. He and co-author Marc Epstein posit a theory that not only are there bad apples, but there are also bad barrels-- and some industries are just ripe with bad orchards.  In their book, Rotten: Why Corporate Misconduct Continues and What to Do about It, they tell the tales that end up inspiring corporate scandal documentaries on Netflix.  But what they do that the documentaries don't is give a prescription for how to clean it all up.
In this episode, we talk with one of the world’s leading lawyers for whistleblowers, Mary Inman of Constantine Cannon. Mary tells us the story behind the famous whistleblowers at Theranos and Boeing and offers insight on the often-heroic sacrifices of those who see it as their duty to the common good to stand up for better behavior in business.  Mary challenges us to rethink how we view whistleblowers and inspires us to see them as she does—forward indicators of risk.
In this episode, we talk with UCLA corporate law historian Adam Winkler about that other civil rights movement-- the corporate civil rights movement. Its seems like an apt conversation to have on a business show amidst these dynamic times and this generation's civil rights movement.  Move over Pete Seeger, Beyonce, and Z-Ro and make room for Roy Zimmerman. Corporations as people... corporations with civil rights? It is an old story. In fact, you might be surprised just how old.
In this episode, our guests talk corporate politics—but not the back-biting, ladder-climbing politics kind. We talk with Dan Ekstein, a leading corporate political strategist and muse about Levi's and Patagonia's call to political action. We also talk with Gabe Rissman, co-Founder of—a data management company that works with investment advisors to help them identify the ESG metrics of portfolios—including the political dimensions.  Big surprises when Gabe takes a look at our host’s portfolio.
In this episode, we talk with shareholder activism pioneer, Bruce Herbert of Newground Social Investment. Bruce recently brought together an A-list celebrity team from Alec Baldwin, Roger Waters, and Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams to make the case that there are Chevron shareholders who believe it is both in the company's interest and the interest of the common good to honor its obligations of restitution for perpetrating decades of environmental degradation in the Ecuadorian Amazon on a scale never seen in human history.
In this episode, we talk with the Father of the Conscious Capitalism Movement, Raj Sisodia.  We explore the idea that business has the capacity to be the engine for tremendous positive change on both a personal and societal level. He also reminds us that business, if not practiced in a conscious way, can also be the source of marginalization and exploitation.  We are inspired by his stories of how some companies have cracked the code.
In this episode, we talk with Fahmi Quadir, known as the assassin of Wall Street to some, but a hero to us.  Fahmi is one of the world's leading short-selling hedge fund managers who looks to use a short investing strategy to achieve alpha... and to focus the world on companies whose demise makes the world a better place.  In our conversation, we hear about two of her iconic trades-- one in pharmaceuticals and one in fintech, but both capturing the attention of the industry and those who hold hope that Wall Street can be a force for good.
Comments (11)


I found this discussion shallow, ill informed, and unidimensional. E.g., there was no discussion of historical bases of granting charters (especially that they be in the public interest), historical limitations on corporate status (e.g., time limits), the logic of limited liability (and commensurate justifications and obligations), etc. As usual, the interview questions were fawning and uncritical.

Feb 22nd
Reply (1)


@29:50: I guess in a business school, correlation = causation and a broad license to over-interpret results. Why test a hypothesis when you can instead call a conjecture a conclusion?

Feb 22nd


Why is this woman laudable? She makes money when bad businesses fail, but she doesn't cause or instigate those downfalls. As she noted, she has a financial interest in their failure, so any publicity might be viewed as the short version of a pump and dump. She's just a gambler. She isn't doing anything to bring justice. In fact, when she covers her shorts, she's providing the market for a fallen stock. Without buyers like her, it would crash further. If she were really praise-worthy, she'd be a financial journalist, an enforcement investigator, etc. As it is, she makes money on market *inefficiencies*--i.e., when she gambles with information she has but others do not. So, what's the point? The quality of thought on this podcast is somewhat lacking, seemingly blinded by a desire to tell stories that fit a certain narrative, which happens to be mostly fictional.

Feb 19th
Reply (1)


This guy definitely sounds like someone educated in India. Once he starts talking, he has to say every opinion he has without taking a breath, lest any other kid in the room start talking and steal the spotlight... in the context of 1 million kids for every opportunity. Not much content evident behind the deepities, platitudes, and humble-brags, though. Typical strategically vacuous CSR/ ESG "have your cake and eat it too... topped with self-righteousness." This is feel-good story-telling with all the intellectual rigor one expects from a business school.

Feb 19th


You're mispronouncing her name. "Ch" is pronounced in Italian as "k" is pronounced in English.

Jan 31st
Reply (1)


Great great GREAT podcast. Its super detailed and sooo informative. Great for people looking to gain more knowledge on business and so many other things!

Nov 1st

Ebany Hill

it's about time chevron amoung the many other earthly polluters be held responsible for greed and continuous destroying our planet ,restitution seems like right place to start,eventhough,it's going to take a whole lot more than just paying off some countries to clean up our planet home,thanks to all the folks fighting for this our home ,let's keep fighting,✌

Oct 28th
Reply (1)
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