Business Support for Communities Could be Waning

This study is based on what is happening in the US, but in many respects Canada is not following far behind.
Harvard Business School just released its first study of US competitiveness, reporting that almost two-thirds of US businesses will locate their new plants outside the US. President Obama addressed the issue in his State of the Union address, citing the same blocks to US competitiveness the study does, namely poor education and training, our complex tax code and regulations, crumbling infrastructure, and lack of political soundness.
None of this is surprising. But for me, one finding was truly shocking: only 22 percent of US managers believe that doing good for their communities will help their business.
Has the economic pressure really had that extreme an impact? I remember just a few years ago that managers believed that doing good for their communities was critical to their business and their reputations. Over the 15 years I consulted to Cisco, I heard President (then Chairman) John Morgridge say over and over, “We do well by doing good” and prove it with network training programs for poor students that expanded Cisco’s industry and customer base. Even today, Cisco is highly rated by CSRHub for its corporate citizenship. In 2008, an Economist study showed that over half of its executive readers linked good deeds to increases in their brand value and over 40 percent believed that corporate social responsibility (CSR) led to decisions that were better for business in the long-term. As recently as 2009, a study by the IBM Institute for Business Value found that 60 percent of business leaders worldwide believe CSR had increased in importance over the previous year. Only 6 percent said it was a lower priority.

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