We have entered a new age. Never before has the world been more connected. From the sale and delivery of goods and services, to investor relations, customer loyalty, and employee satisfaction, this is a global economy which has redefined the way we do business and how we view the world.
Being World Citizens
This era of rapid technological advancement and increasing world trade brings a greater responsibility as global citizens. We are not just residents of our local communities - we are citizens of the world.
Our place in this new world economy will be directly related to our efforts as visible leaders in social and humanitarian efforts in both local neighborhoods of industrialized nations and also in remote villages in developing countries. Once considered an option, good corporate citizenship is now mandatory for survival. Employees and customers demand it.
The 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Report, the longest study of American attitudes toward corporate support of social issues, clearly finds that employees, investors, and customers have issued a mandate for immediate corporate action on social issues:
• 80% of those surveyed said corporate commitment to social issues wins trust in that company.
• 86% would switch from one brand to another of the same price or quality if the other brand is associated with a cause.
• 74% reported a company’s commitment to social issues influenced what products and services they recommended to other people.
• 70% suggested good corporate citizenship influenced their decisions about what stocks and mutual funds to invest in.
• 81% reported that it affected their decision about where to work.
In this age of instant messaging and increased consumer awareness, open and clear corporate communication to the public is essential. However, accountability to the integrity of business practices is part of that responsibility.
The Cone study further found that:
• 80% of Americans can name companies that stood out in their minds as good corporate citizens.
• 97% strongly value a company’s fair priced products and services.
• 93% value a corporation’s human rights and manufacturing practices.
An Internal Process
How do we fulfill this new responsibility? As with all long-term change of great value, today’s business leaders must begin the process from within. Essential to good corporate citizenship practices is personally accountable leadership in management, socially responsible policies of doing business at every level, and clearly defined outreach programs for employees.
To be good corporate citizens, we must also be good neighbors. This requires an active presence in the local neighborhoods where corporate offices are located and responsiveness to the needs of area residents.
Today’s world economy also requires awareness and involvement in global issues. Our customers, investors, and employees demand we act proactively to the most important social issues of our time and that we recognize our connection to the global community. We must reach out to the world as humanitarians.
The Heart of a Company: Its Employees
Whether the work is local or international, at the heart of every company’s efforts are the employees. To expect the best from employees, there must be an understanding of what gives them the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment. The answer is not a paycheck.
All of us are looking to make a life, and while making a living and providing for those we love, what we want most for ourselves is to live a fulfilled life. According to several studies, including an extensive survey by England’s New Scientist Magazine, one of the most fascinating facts of this new age is people in all industrialized nations rank lower than people in many developing countries when it comes to personal fulfillment and happiness.
It All Starts with Giving
The reason is that we have lost our sense of community and our personal connection to one another and we have lost the strongest link to personal satisfaction - giving. Recognizing this, we must provide our employees with every opportunity to be connected to their community and with opportunities to serve.
When employees are provided with opportunities to serve the local and world communities, these initiatives not only help change the world, an end result is greater productivity in the workplace. When an employee is fulfilled, he or she will work with greater energy and compassion and will advance the company with passion and loyalty.
Good global corporate citizenship is realized in many ways:
• Practicing conscious capitalism by creating product lines with a social entrepreneurial business model that sets aside as much as 50% of the product’s revenue to a relevant social cause.
• Donating in-kind services to non-profits that serve social change issues.
• Consistently donating products and services in response to natural disasters and to help support underserved areas.
• Refusing to manufacture or support the distribution of goods produced by child labor.
• Being conscious and proactive on all environmental impact practices. Thinking, planning, and acting green.
• Supporting and encouraging employee volunteer efforts and increasing employer matching fund programs.
• Creating a workplace-giving campaign that reflects the diversity and interests of employees.
• Sponsoring local activities such as 5K races which support local and world community causes.
• Budgeting for public service announcements that promote global citizenship initiatives.
In order to thrive in the new world economy, it is essential to first become members of the human community through good corporate citizenship and global leadership. A strong connection to the greatest humanitarian issues of our time and the empowerment of employees as ambassadors of goodwill will secure a place in the future of this changing world.
This article was written by Tom Tuohy, president and founder of Dreams for Kids. It was excerpted from the PR News Guide to Best Practices in Corporate Social Responsibility, Volume 2. To order a copy, visit http://www.prnewsonline.com/store/