Making Globalization Work for Your Company
Companies once held accountable only for the direct, contractually specified or regulated consequences of their actions now find themselves responsible for alleviating hunger, disease and more: issues as disparate as environmental sustainability, community economic development and child labor in sub-Sahara Africa. Thus it is easy to see that our increasingly interconnected world demands strong corporate leadership to strengthen governance, harness economic potential, alleviate global poverty and improve human conditions.
So what should be the role of business? As engines of growth and sustainable development, corporations have a responsibility to address poverty and underdevelopment, to help disadvantaged communities where they conduct their business, manufacture their products and employ workers. Here are some guidelines:
- Innovate, create decent jobs and develop affordable products and services, especially those that meet basic needs such as water, energy, nutrition, healthcare, housing and education while leveraging your core business expertise and realizing commercial success.
- Invest in improving society and addressing global challenges beyond traditional philanthropy. Too often philanthropy is used as a form of public relations: “writing the check” to promote a company’s image through high-profile sponsorships. To respond to competing pressure from investors, governments and activists, companies should approach their corporate giving strategically to improve the business climate and infrastructure where they operate.
- Leverage other resources as well, devoting not only money, but management capabilities and relationships, to solving development problems such as in-kind donation of employee expertise for training; also utilize “cause marketing”: engaging customers in both awareness of and funding for some of these development needs.
- Use your natural strengths to create products and markets that stimulate development in emerging economies where future business growth opportunities are the greatest. You can and should provide access to economic opportunity through jobs, property ownership and access to credit and access to new technologies and training.
Responsible conduct must increasingly become the guiding principle in for overall business strategy. For private enterprise, international development is increasingly regarded as the “quid pro quo” for globalization and market expansion. Companies that heed the call for alignment of their social and philanthropic missions with their core business strategies will succeed far into the future. Those that don’t won’t survive!