Since May, I have enjoyed the opportunity to share McAfee’s overall approach to corporate responsibility and offer specific examples of our own initiatives. Every now and again, it is important to step back and look at the bigger picture of societal issues and how our commitments compare to those of other companies.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of taking part in a webcast to promote the release of the State of Corporate Citizenship 2007 study. The biennial study, conducted by the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College and funded by the Hitachi Foundation, surveyed a cross-section of U.S. executives on a range of issues related to the role of business in society.
The overall theme of this year’s study was a gap between rhetoric (what companies say about their commitments to corporate responsibility) and reality. For example, 73 percent of executives believe that corporate responsibility needs to be a business priority, but only 39 percent say it’s’ part of their business planning. Sixty-five percent of executives say that the public has the right to expect good corporate citizenship, but only 29 percent say their companies are discussing corporate citizenship outside the company.
Another interesting theme that emerged was that of the changing social contract in the United States. In recent years, we have seen U.S. businesses increasingly involved in helping meet societal needs around health care, education, poverty reduction, disaster relief and affordable housing – areas typically assigned to the role of government. Even among corporate responsibility professionals, a view is emerging that the scale may have tipped too far toward businesses being responsible for addressing these needs.. To quote one of my fellow speakers yesterday, “perhaps it is time for business to step up and be advocates for more effective government again.”
In this age of transparency and communication with stakeholders, the study’s organizers have turned to social media to continue the discussion. They have created Corporate Citizen 07 blog (full disclosure: I am a featured contributor). On this blog, everyone is invited to continue the dialogue on many of the topics highlighted by the study’s results.
What role do companies have in addressing the changing social contract? How should companies address the gaps between company rhetoric and reality on corporate citizenship? How can companies use values-centered leadership and employee engagement to drive their initiatives?
Have some thoughts? Bookmark the McAfee Security Insights blog then head over to www.corporatecitizen07.com to join the discussion.