Sunday, November 18, 2012

Corporate Responsibility

There are many companies who are recognized for what they “Give Back”.  Forbes just published an article regarding the top companies who “give back” (Forbes- Oct 19).  What was interesting is they based this list on the amount of money each company gave in “Charitable contributions” and what percentage these donations were to pre-tax profits.  The top 10 on this list were Alcoa ($36.6m / 6.7% ), Merck ($72.6m / 4.4%), General Mills ($88.7m / 4%), Kroger ($69.7m / 4%), Xerox ($27m / 3.3%), Target ($126m / 3.3%), Goldman Sachs ($337m / 2.6%), Safeway ($21.6m / 2.5%), NW Mutual ($17m / 2.4%), and Starbucks ($30.5m / 2.12%).  It is impressive to see companies giving so much back. 

However, there is so much more to Corporate Responsibility than simply making charitable donations based on profits.  Of more importance is what a company does to truly benefit the communities and people as a whole.  This includes employees, the environment, citizens, and more.  Corporate Responsibility is defined in as “A company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies express this citizenship (1) through their waste and pollution reduction processes, (2) by contributing educational and social programs, and (3) by earning adequate returns on the employed resources.” 

On Wednesday November 14, Bloomberg Business Week reported Cisco Systems announced its 2012 Annual Corporate Responsibility Report.  The Report outlines what Cisco believes to be the core components of its Responsibility to the company and community: governance and ethics, supply chain, employees, society, and environment.  Cisco publishes this report “to illustrate the company's broad reach and innovative solutions designed to help Cisco, its customers, and its partners address social issues and promote environmental sustainability.”   Though some may see these reports as simply a marketing and public relations tool (which it is to some degree), it is refreshing to see companies make such a statement in regards to their conscious decision to ensure their organization benefits more than just shareholders. 

Topics addressed in this report include human rights (global), efforts to lead in ethics and employee compliance to ethics policies, privacy policies, global transparency, labor practices, women’s issues (Cisco launched the Women in Technology Conference), commitment to diversity, corporate and foundation cash and in-kind contributions worldwide, employee volunteers to various non-profit organizations, education programs, efforts to reduce GHG emissions, and more.  It shows a true commitment by an organization to give back to the community, environment, and employees, and work to use company resources to make a difference through a positive impact on the world in which we all live.

What makes a company truly great is the ability of the company to better the world in which we live.  Successful companies are in a position to have an amazing, positive impact on the world and all of the people who reside on this planet.  From working to ensure fair global labor practices, protecting the rights of minorities and women, and championing human rights to protecting the environment; companies have the resources to truly make a difference. 

Even small companies have the ability to present a positive impact on their communities. This could be something as small as ensuring recycling programs are in place to adopting training programs to educate employees on sexual harassment, discrimination, and tolerance, creating training and development plans to assist employees in advancing careers, providing balanced and fair employment practices and work expectations, and ensuring community outreach.  It is the job of company leadership to address these issues and ensure companies position resources, including human capital, to address these issues.

In my current company, we have numerous programs designed to assist the employee, and by definition of what we are (convention center), our mandate is to support the community, boost the economy, have an economic impact on the community, and present programs that better the world in which we live.  From recycling programs and blood drives to habitat for humanity volunteer days and food drives, our operation truly focuses on what we can do to better the world we all live in.   

For more information on Corporate Responsibility, visit Corporate Responsibility Magazine online at


Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Cisco Issues 2012 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.  SAN JOSE, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 11/14/12.  Accessed 11/16/12. Link: Accessed 11/17/2012:  Link: