Perhaps it’s the image of CEOs and CFOs being led away in handcuffs, or the new corporate fraud bill hastily signed into law during the summer, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about corporate responsibility. And apparently I’m not alone.
Two reports on the topic recently crossed my desk. A study from The Conference Board found that more and more company executives are accepting corporate responsibility as a new strategic and managerial function—complete with bottom-line repercussions—that requires their attention.
The other report, this one a Jericho Communications survey of 264 Fortune 1000 CEOs, found that 36 percent of respondents said their companies are more conscious of corporate social responsibility since Sept. 11, 2001.
To be sure, corporate responsibility and good citizenship are nothing new to some catalogers. For example, every year Talbot’s offers five women $10,000 college scholarships each, and 50 women each receive $1,000 scholarships. The funds are for undergraduates who have been out of high school for at least 10 years—undoubtedly an under-served market in the scholarship arena.
IKEA supports children’s education in third-world and developing nations. “Our ambition is make sure no child labor is involved in the manufacturing of IKEA products,” officials explain. “This includes all our suppliers worldwide, as well as their sub-contractors. Providing quality education is one way of preventing child labor.”
The Swedish retailer helps to fund specific educational programs run by groups such as the International Save the Child Alliance and UNICEF. For instance, it’s helping to repair eight pilot schools in Kosovo benefiting about 8,000 students. And in India, the retailer is supporting a program that provides educational opportunities to young girls.
Of course, good corporate citizenship means more than funding worthy philanthropic causes. It also entails releasing truthful balance sheets and maintaining fair and equitable employment practices. Indeed, these past few months in American business have given us all a wake-up call. I believe the period has reiterated what, deep down, we all know inherently—that good business and good corporate citizenship are inseparable ideals.