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The Challenge for Business and Society: From Risk to Reward



The Challenge for Business and Society: From Risk to Reward

Stanley S. Litow

ISBN: 978-1-119-43748-2 May 2018 208 Pages


A roadmap to improve corporate social responsibility

The 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign focused a good deal of attention on the role of corporations in society, from both sides of the aisle. In the lead up to the election, big companies were accused of profiteering, plundering the environment, and ignoring (even exacerbating) societal ills ranging from illiteracy and discrimination to obesity and opioid addiction. Income inequality was laid squarely at the feet of us companies. The Trump administration then moved swiftly to scrap fiscal, social, and environmental rules that purportedly hobble business, to redirect or shut down cabinet offices historically protecting the public good, and to roll back clean power, consumer protection, living wage, healthy eating initiatives and even basic public funding for public schools. To many eyes, and the lens of history, this may usher in a new era of cowboy capitalism with big companies, unfettered by regulation and encouraged by the presidential bully pulpit, free to go about the business of making money—no matter the consequences to consumers and the commonwealth. While this may please some companies in the short term, the long term consequences might result in just the opposite.

And while the new administration promises to reduce "foreign aid" and the social safety net, Stanley S. Litow believes big companies will be motivated to step up their efforts to create jobs, reduce poverty, improve education and health, and address climate change issues — both domestically and around the world. For some leaders in the private sector this is not a matter of public relations or charity. It is integral to their corporate strategy—resulting in creating new markets, reducing risks, attracting and retaining top talent, and generating growth and realizing opportunities. Through case studies (many of which the author spearheaded at IBM), The Challenge for Business and Society provides clear guidance for companies to build their own corporate sustainability and social responsibility plans positively effecting their bottom lines producing real return on their investments. This book will help:

• Create an effective corporate social responsibility and sustainability plan
• Provide long-term bottom line benefit
• Protect and enrich brand value
• Recruit and retain top talent

Perfect for CEOs, CFOs, Human Resource/Corporate Affairs executives, but also for government and not-for-profit leaders, this book helps you come up with a solid plan for giving back to society, producing real sustainable value.

Foreword ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1: The Good, Bad, and Ugly: A History of Corporate Behavior 17

Another Way of Proceeding 23

Public-Private Partnership Before the Phrase Was Coined 32

Discrimination and Jobs Are the Same Issue 37

Gender Equality 41

Environmental Leadership 42

Supply Chain Practices 46

Lessons Learned and Strategies Used 48

Can We Intelligently Regulate Business? 53

Can Ethics Be Taught? 56

The Recent Past 60

Chapter 2: Past Is Prologue, but Today Is What Matters 65

Best Practices in Corporate Responsibility 71

Corporate Responsibility and Education 73

The Background on School Reform 74

P-TECH: Reinventing High Schools 80

Changing Federal Policy 95

Walking and Chewing Gum at the Same Time 98

Student Stories 102

Results 105

Engaging the Company over the Long Term 106

Lessons Learned 108

IBM Launches Teacher Advisor with Watson 109

The Skills Crisis Goes Far Beyond the Entry Level 113

Citizen Diplomacy 114

JPMorgan Chase: A Company’s Values Are at the Core of Its Actions 120

Starbucks 122

American Express 123

The Food Industry 124

Failures in Corporate Citizenship 126

Private-Sector Leadership in the Public and Volunteer Sectors 128

Lessons to Be Learned, and Moving Forward 130

Chapter 3: The Future 133 Leadership: We Need Leaders to Lead 137

Ethics and Community Service: A Culture of Ethics and Service Needs to Be Reinforced and Expanded 140

Key Problems Facing Society Today and How They Can Be Addressed 144

Critical Issues That Need a New Focus: Education and Jobs 149

Four Ideas That Will Boost Education Achievement 150

Economic Development and Jobs 161

A Brighter Future 169

Conclusion 171

About the Author 181

Index 183