Corporate actions that promote social sustainability are no longer “niche” behaviors and something that business engages in solely to feel good about themselves or to heighten their reputation with consumers but rather, sees promotion of the social good and sustainable business practices and activities as necessary behavior, which is to be firmly set into core business strategies, missions and envisioned futures of successful businesses worldwide. Businesses today have awoke to a new reality --- the quantifiable and absolute linkage between corporate citizenship and stewardship of the global economy, environment and society and competitive advantage, profitability and shareholder value.
For instance, Amway Corporation, headquartered in Ada, Michigan has a long-standing campaign to help children worldwide live better lives. The AMWAY ONE BY ONE® Campaign for Children is marking its 10th year by announcing that the company’s distributors and employees around the globe have improved the lives of 10 million children since the campaign began in 2003. Through the One By One Campaign, Amway distributors and employees volunteer their time and talents to better the lives of impoverished children and their families in areas such as building and construction, education, health and nutrition, recreation, and social services. Volunteer contributions range from offering clean facilities to prepare nutritious meals for children in rural China and giving life-saving vaccines to African children to building homes for Latin American families, providing books and library resources to children in Southeast Asia and Africa, and offering opportunities for disabled children in the United States and Russia to compete in sports. Pharmaceutical companies BAXTER HEALTHCARE (Baxter) and GLAXOSMITHKLINE (GSK) have committed to strengthening access to healthcare for the poorest individuals in the United States and developing countries around the globe through product development and strategic assistance. An example of GSK’s sustainability programs includes delivering vaccines for use in developing countries. In 2009, those vaccines totaled approximately 1 billion doses. Not only does GSK make delivery of these vaccines possible, the company also extends exceptional and reduced pricing on select life-saving treatments and medications, giving access to treatments and vaccines for indigent individuals worldwide that will save and improve the quality of their lives. The example of Amway, Baxter and GSK not only call attention to the social agendas and activities of these companies but also emphasizes their humanitarian efforts around the world. These companies and other like them demonstrate each and every day the quantifiable relationship between corporate social responsibility and stakeholder value and competitive advantage, profitability and shareholder value. Balancing sustainable values and the financial bottom line of business are not mutually exclusive.
What are the major challenges facing your business over the next three years? Will adoption of sustainable business practices help meet your major business challenges? Does your current business model integrate or can it be easily adapted to accommodate sustainable business practices? Do you think sustainable business practices will increase your competitive advantage and profitability? If you’re the owner of a small business, a CEO of a multinational corporation, or someone in-between, there is an irrefutable connection between corporate social responsibility, sustainable practices and shareholder and stakeholder value. Whether your organization is just exploring sustainability or has a sustainable business strategy in place, balancing shareholder and sustainable values can and is being done in today's global business markets.