The Corporate Philanthropist: Stakeholders' Expectations of Business - Page 9
Civil Society Perspective: Imagine the Incredible Potential
Elements of a strong, productive workforce include employees who are educated and armed with skills for today’s global market; workers able to perform at their peak, knowing their family’s medical concerns will be addressed; a community with roads and transportation systems that facilitate easy access to the workplace; and a region that is committed to clean air and safe drinking water. These elements make it possible for an entire workforce to give its very best day after day. These characteristics apply not only to workers in the business community, but also to 2.7 million civilians who work for the U.S. federal government and 13 million people in America’s nonprofit community.
Many businesses have used their corporate foundations, social responsibility programs, and outreach efforts to help create a climate that fosters a positive view of their firm. Such activities are welcome and encouraged for sure. Equally, if not more important, is recognizing and acting on the fundamental principle that it is in the best interest of business to attend to the larger environment in which it operates. Being a good corporate citizen is one thing; building communities in which people thrive and work to their maximum potential is another. Companies like Wal-Mart, Ben & Jerry’s, and others have internalized this notion to the benefit of the triple bottom line of helping people, earning profit, and tending to our planet. Perhaps one of the most effective ways to create wealth for shareholders and stakeholders is for a business to leverage its powerful assets – innovation, efficiency, and creativity among them – to improve human lives and the world in which we live. Doing so reflects not only enlightened self-interest, but sound business practice.
Like business, the government and nonprofit sectors are also dependent on the wider environment in which they operate. Productivity drops across the board when employees or their family members don’t have access to suitable medical care. Every establishment – from the supermarket to the town hall to the local theater company – shuts down when a storm ravages an unprepared community. It is in the best interest of all sectors to take responsibility for the people and natural resources on which they rely.
Imagine the incredible potential should the combined muscle of the business sector, government, and charitable community pull together to address global climate change or reform health care. Tackling immense challenges such as these will require all three sectors to embrace a deeper commitment to a wider social agenda. It is also the best way to ultimately create real wealth for all.
Independent Sector is the national leadership forum for America’s nonprofits, foundations, and corporations. Independent Sector’s mission is to advance the common good by leading, strengthening, and mobilizing the charitable community.
CECP asks today’s business leaders to consider:
- Which social issues limit the productivity of your workforce and what can your company do to help society overcome those challenges?
- Do your company’s social programs leverage the company’s most powerful assets, including innovation, efficiency, and creativity?
- How can commitment to a wider social agenda aimed at improving human lives help your company’s bottom line in the long run?