During the 2012 election, then-Presidential candidate Senator Mitt Romney famously said, “corporations are people.” While he was mocked for that statement at the time, it is nonetheless increasingly accurate. For a number of reasons, corporations are placing a greater emphasis on being good corporate citizens. This presentation will discuss the importance of connecting corporate responsibility efforts with a company’s engagement in Washington and sharing those activities with the broader policy community.
Corporations have traditionally understood the value and importance of playing a positive role in the communities they are in. They help their neighbors through their community work, celebrate milestones and mourn tragedies. Now, more than ever, they are also making political statements through their PACs, product offerings, investments, and corporate relationships. Corporations are also increasingly playing roles in public policy that were previously reserved for governments by implementing sustainability and fair trade policies, for example, even when there are no federal mandates to do so.
The Business Roundtable recently cemented this mentality when it issued new Principles on Corporate Governance, declaring that no longer can corporations exist principally to serve their shareholders. The new principles recognize the variety of stakeholders that corporations have. That recognition puts every company’s corporate responsibility work at the center of its decision-making processes.
The increasing prioritization of corporate responsibility in corporate decision-making needs to extend to companies’ engagement in Washington. Telling a company’s story in Washington is no longer simply about protecting profits and expanding markets. Your company’s sustainability practices may become the new floor for climate policy, for example, raising the bar for your competitors. Your emphasis on hiring from within a community hard hit by job loss, or “ban the box” job applications could help policymakers clarify what works and what doesn’t in practice, making your company a thought leader in the area and elevating your brand.
At the same time, activists are beginning to recognize that Congress is becoming increasingly gridlocked and are turning their efforts towards the private sector. Companies are at greater risk than ever from becoming targets of political activism which can damage brand equity, making good corporate practices even more important. Decisions made in one line of business for political or PR reasons need to be coordinated across every vertical. For example, your company may have ended its discount to NRA members, but your PAC may still be contributing to politicians with A ratings from the NRA, negating any goodwill accomplished by ending the discount program.
In this webinar, I will further explain the importance of connecting corporate responsibility work to Washington policy makers and thought leaders as an opportunity to magnify the positive impact your company is making, to enhance your company’s reputation internally and externally, and as a risk mitigation strategy. I will describe the subtle but important difference between being cynically political about corporate responsibility work and being strategic about corporate responsibility efforts. Finally, I will emphasize the need to view every decision through the lens of corporate responsibility and look across your company’s landscape to ensure that decisions made in one company vertical are not being counteracted by efforts elsewhere in the company.