Andrea Learned

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Committing to Good Business

A recent corporate reputation survey by CR Magazine and AllegisTalent2 shows that the majority of people, even in these tough job-finding times, would still not take a job offer from a company with a bad reputation.  Specifically, the results showed that 75 percent of Americans felt this way. This fairly surprising fact should get a lot of corporations thinking about how to build their talent pipelines and more.

So, do corporations realize how much they damage their own self-interest by not practicing responsible business (fiscally, socially and environmentally)?  Helping them avoid such damage is one reason the COMMIT!Forum conference is worth notice.

In advance of the event*, which will be held in New York City October 2nd and 3rd, I spoke with Richard Crespin, Chair of the conference and Executive Director of the Corporate Responsibility Officers Association (CROA), about the state of corporate responsibility and where some (big) opportunities lie.  The corporations now leading the way on this front may surprise you and the degree of opportunity still available is significant – especially when it comes to developing a sustainable work force.

A few things that struck Crespin about the development of the corporate responsibility movement include:

  • The biggest strides in CR are coming not in the Business-to-Consumer channels but in the Business-to-Business channels, with emphasis on fine-tuning the operations, supply chain and marketing channels.  Instead of expecting consumers to drive this movement, businesses are seeing the writing on the wall, and – with or without mandates (which is a key point in comparison to European corporations, for example) – beginning their process.
  • Colleges and universities, including top business schools, are not necessarily aware of the resource of CR data, or the ways partnering with an organization like CROA could help them develop programs that could better prepare students for their leading futures.
  • The obvious suspects may not be the actual key players. In fact, the COMMIT!Forum conference speakers and agenda include representatives from corporations the average consumer (aka non-CR insider) might be surprised to see, including: UPS,  NASCAR and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
  • Women in the workforce will likely be key for moving the corporate responsibility needle.  Though too early to draw conclusions, Crespin noted that the CR Magazine/AllegisTalent2 survey did show that 83% of women (compared with 75% overall) said they would not take a job with an ill-reputed corporation, even if they were unemployed.  Furthermore, women who are moms may be particularly influential in shifting corporations toward more responsible behavior and practices.  (Joan Blades of is one COMMIT!Forum speaker who will surely share more information on this point.)

As the COMMIT!Forum tagline puts it: “Good business makes the difference.”  By starting with responsibility-educated talent and integrating that thinking into operations and supply chain, as well as building on the influence of women in the field, corporations may improve the odds that the best future employees are attracted to, and will “commit”, to theirs.


*I will be attending the conference and hosting a table at the Blogger Breakfast on October 3. I’d love to see you there and get your sense of the state of corporate responsibility.