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Do good, do well: why being a good corporate citizen matters

Maria D'Avanzo

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Hiring, developing and promoting diverse talent is not only the right thing to do, but is critical to the success of an organization. Clients don’t want the same old thinking and the same old solutions – they want different perspectives and innovative alternatives to help them solve their business problems. Hiring diverse talent is the first step in the right direction, but companies should be focused specifically on the importance of creating and maintaining an inclusive culture. An inclusive culture ensures that every employee feels welcomed and valued for their unique contributions. or the past several decades, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was largely considered a self-regulated initiative implemented by companies to add reputational value and gain trust from their various stakeholders and communities. There have always been companies that put CSR at the center of their business models, but such models have ballooned and deflated in popularity at different points—along with their real or perceived value. 

Recent years have seen a sharp change in the general attitude towards social initiatives by corporations. It is quickly becoming critical for companies to not only understand global trends, social challenges and the core competencies and strategies that are associated with CSR, but it is also essential to integrate them into their business models and operations. 

Companies around the world and across industries are demonstrating that being a good corporate citizen and running a good business are one and the same, and integrating positive initiatives and upholding higher standards in the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria areas are important to success. Being a good corporate citizen begins with embedding strategic priorities into a corporate culture, programming and goals through best practices in CSR areas, some of which include: 

Diversity and Inclusion  
Hiring, developing and promoting diverse talent is not only the right thing to do, but is critical to the success of an organization. Clients don’t want the same old thinking and the same old solutions – they want different perspectives and innovative alternatives to help them solve their business problems. Hiring diverse talent is the first step in the right direction, but companies should be focused specifically on the importance of creating and maintaining an inclusive culture. An inclusive culture ensures that every employee feels welcomed and valued for their unique contributions. 

Data Privacy  
With the 2018 enforcement of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), effective data rights management strategies have also become increasingly imperative to corporate identities. Embedding privacy and data protection principles into a company’s DNA through policies, procedures and training demonstrates good CSR practice. 

In recent years, the cost of a data breach has skyrocketed. This is not to imply that only high-value assets are worth protecting, but higher values certainly raise the stakes. A data breach also has wide-reaching effects on a company’s bottom line, reputation, and the privacy and security of the affected individuals. 

Compliance, Ethics & Anti-Corruption  
Compliance programs have gone from “nice to have” to a requirement for public  companies. With an increasing number of regulatory enforcement actions and a shifting risk landscape, compliance programs serve as a risk mitigator—the strongest compliance programs identify trends at a bird’s eye view and allow companies to take proactive approaches rather than reactive stances after a violation occurs.  
 
Compliance failures are one of the largest sources of reputational risk for public companies. Perhaps more daunting is the reputational damage it can cost a business, which is difficult to recover from and often costs more than the fines and fees for noncompliance.  

Alternately, an ethical company can stand out from its competitors. Companies with strong compliance programs accelerate business by providing the information business leaders need to make informed decisions and stay ahead of the evolving regulatory landscape. Ethical companies receive positive public attention, gain the trust of their customers and suppliers, and better attract and retain talent. Establishing a tone for a culture of integrity is imperative to any business’ success, both socially and financially. 

Driving Innovation 

Consideration for environmental, social and governance issues not only strengthen a company’s operations but can lead to new business opportunities, innovation and growth. New and old companies alike are finding ways to reconcile a call to address modern needs of the world, society and their communities, serve a wider range of stakeholders, and generate long-term value. 

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