11 Oct 2007


Most large organizations today have a corporate responsibility (CR) program. Shareholders and interest groups demand it – particularly in the wake of earlier high profile corporate misbehaviour (think Enron, WorldCom or Nike sweatshops).

Companies now trumpet their environmental and social programs in glossy brochures. They talk about being “a good corporate citizen.”

But the fact remains that these organizations are businesses. Their purpose is to make money. Corporate responsibility is not altruistic, instead it supports the bottom line.

CR sets out a professional framework for the “ethical” pursuit of profit. Ideally, it should govern the actions of an organization and its representatives.

Despite the best articulated CR program, companies don’t always behave the way we want them to. Unfortunately, the profit motive can sometimes shoulder corporate responsibility aside. Ultimately though, corporate behavior (good or bad) depends on the individuals working for the company.

It often falls to the communications person to be the corporate conscience. Why you ask? Because the nature of their role means they are aware of the issues and are trained to consider “all the angles.” They appreciate and fear the inferno that will ensue when the proverbial @%&! hits the fan. They also work closely with senior management and can influence key decision makers.

So next time you find yourself in a meeting debating a course of action, be the corporate conscience. You might not win any popularity contests, but you will be on the side of right and doing your employer a favor.


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