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Corporate social responsibility: Good for business, employees, and communities

“The reality is that government, for a long period of time, has for whatever set of reasons become less functional and isn’t working at the speed that it once was. And so it does fall, I think, not just on business but on all other areas of society to step up.”


Despite the partisan divides that exist within our country, we might be hard pressed to identify from what side of the political spectrum the above sentiment reflects.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and its devastating impact on Texas and Louisiana, how will our government respond? Will Congress quickly work to provide aid and assistance, or will action be delayed because of political scores or attempts to advance other agendas?

In fact, it was Apple’s Tim Cook who was quoted in an August 28, 2017 New York Times article expressing the view that businesses should not rely, or wait, on government to step up. Apple takes seriously what HR calls corporate social responsibility. As Tim explains, “I think we have a moral responsibility to help grow the economy, to help grow jobs, to contribute to this country and to contribute to the other countries that we do business in.”

  • Apple’s new plant in Iowa will run exclusively on renewable energy.

  • All of Apple’s corporate facilities currently run on wind and solar energy.

  • Apple is providing free curriculum on developing apps (notably for Apple products, but Tim Cook notes that the skills are transferable to programming on non-Apple devices) to community colleges in Alabama, Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

More and more, organizations are recognizing that initiatives around sustainability and social responsibility are not only good for business, but it also leads to higher commitment levels from employees and stronger communities.

In this time of a massive natural disaster and intense political divide, I find it helpful to borrow from the serenity prayer and focus my attention on what is under my control. Mother nature and political matters (in the short run) certainly are not! But, individual and the collective efforts of organizations of which I am a part can make a positive contribution.

Typically, corporate social responsibility initiatives fall to HR. So, you may want to consider what unique capabilities your organization possesses that could be directed at the communities in which you live and operate to improve our collective functioning. And, how can those of us in HR take the step to launch one? It would be great to hear ideas of things you are doing or would like to do. Let’s help each other step up.


Gerry Brandon, PhD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is the Director of the Graduate Programs in Human Resource Development at Villanova and an Associate Professor. Learn more about him here!

Photo Credit: Mike Deerkowski

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