From CSR to Corporate Citizenship
I have long admired the companies that were doing well and, in turn, emphasized doing good for society. I’m also fortunate to live in Seattle, near one of the leaders in this initiative. No doubt you have sipped their coffee.
Corporate philanthropy and social responsibility go hand in hand and in the U.S. It’s a relationship that dates back to early industrial times: take Andrew Carnegie, the wealthy steel industrialist, who contributed to education and scientific research. Contemporary examples of common corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives include paying attention to environmental concerns, promoting volunteerism among workers, and, of course, donating to charity.
Within CSR, there’s corporate citizenship, a company’s responsibility toward society. Interestingly, it is becoming commonplace for investors to put their money into the sorts of businesses that espouse good governance by adhering to the most socially and environmentally sensitive practices.
One of the goals of corporate citizenship is to influence the standard of living and quality of life in the greater communities they serve. Newer generations of consumers are now more aware of problems such as:
Dangerous and deadly working conditions [which] are common on the production lines of many goods we consume. Tainted and toxic food products appear regularly on the shelves of grocery stores. People working in many industries and services sectors, from fast food to retail, to education, cannot afford to feed themselves and their families without food stamps. In response to these—and many other—problems, many have turned to ethical consumerism in order to address global issues by changing their patterns of consumption.
With so many connections to our survival as a planet and species that affect business, concerned consumers are truly making a difference through their spending habits, and buying those products and services that do the least harm or, even better, help to improve things for all of us. Businesses, on the other hand, are required now to establish a reputation for environmental stewardship and social responsibility.
If you think about the varied benefits of this feedback loop, where a company that invests in ethically sourced products works to create a global network of farmers, builds its facilities using the green ethos and standards, aspires to hire veterans and refugees in the future, etc., you can really begin to see how running any business with thought and concern for Planetary Wellbeing could benefit everyone. I think about this all the time as I manage my own companies, Edifecs and Roundglass. I am as dedicated to Wholistic Wellbeing at the corporate level as much as at the personal level.
It's not easy, though. As I have written, with Wholistic Wellbeing, I hope to democratize this view of the world with a strong focus on interconnection: within ourselves, our families, our communities, our societies, and ultimately our ecosystems. We cannot care for ourselves without caring for others or the planet, and with businesses on board to give back to society, we’ll see an expansion of compassion and elevation of the greater good in this world with so many in need.
When asked, most Americans say they would buy products from a company leading with CSR in mind. We are all called to a higher purpose, and when business embraces this ethos, everyone, including the planet, wins. We have no time to lose!