Social Responsibility = Reputation Driver

Peter Morrissey, whose name hangs above the door here at Morrissey & Company, is not only a voracious reader but an eclectic one as well. His reference to an obscure journal or book he has just consumed is a daily event as he works some nugget from his reading into a conversation about a client or an issue being discussed.

The journal that is on Peter’s mind this week is the July-August issue of The Futurist – a magazine about trends that its authors are seeing in our future. Some of these trends are, well, depressing, like the fact that despite all our efforts to conserve energy, our use and demand for oil is still rising.  And then there was this sub-headline on another item: People around the world becoming increasingly sensitive to environmental issues as the consequences of neglect, indifference, and ignorance become more apparent.” That looked like a fun read, but I decided to skip that one, too.

But here’s an item that did get my attention: The global economic train wreck that has shattered most economies is being understood by many people as a long-overdue sign that we need to change how we conduct business and that we need to behave with greater integrity, honesty and transparency. According to a survey by the World Economic Forum, more than two-thirds of those surveyed said that the economic crisis is a crisis of values and that there needs to be greater social responsibility by our companies and CEOs.

Fortune 500In the true American spirit of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” American companies are now getting on the Goodwill Bandwagon and finding out that it is good for their business. For example, say the authors, Home Depot and Lowes have stopped buying wood products that come from countries with endangered forests. Fortune magazine now includes in its rankings of the Top 500 companies an assessment of “how well they conform to socially responsible business practices.”

Doing good means doing well. The trend being spotted here by The Futurist isn’t exactly earth-shattering news as companies have long understood that putting their social conscience on display helps their business [A survey of nearly 1,200 companies reported that 84% found their socially conscience business practices had helped their bottom line]. What is notable about this ongoing trend is that it is still occurring despite a global meltdown where companies might resort back to ‘quick and dirty’ practices rather than the more expensive route of global kindness.

What’s next? Perhaps we can all expect Boston drivers will begin stopping to let pedestrians cross the street? Well, we’ll believe that when we see that in The Futurist.

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