A recent American Red Cross survey funded by FedEx revealed that nearly half (49%) of small businesses do not have a disaster relief plan in place should a disaster strike. Stack this statistic alongside the fact that up to 40% of businesses affected by a natural or man-made disaster never reopen according to the Insurance Information Institute, and you’ve got a problem that needs to be addressed!
FedEx is doing its best to help small businesses get prepared for disasters. Small businesses in many ways are the backbone of local economies, providing jobs and commercial enterprises that help build healthy communities.
In April, FedEx was a sponsor of the 2013 US Chamber’s America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, DC. In order to help get the word out to the 600 plus small businesses represented at the Summit, and to spread the message widely across DC and the US, we employed several tactics...
Each business decision you make won’t please everyone, but being able to handle the flak when it comes can make the difference between a blimp and a PR disaster. But when social activists focus on your company, will you know what to do?
Know Your Audience
How well do you know this particular audience? Have these individuals been outspoken about a problem or industry issue? If so, what are their concerns? Have they publicly recommended solutions? Next, recognize that activists are passionate about their cause. If you think of them as brand ambassadors fully engaged in vigorously promoting their specific environmental, social, political, or economic viewpoints, it’s easier to understand the tremendous commitment they exhibit. And while you may view their work as the antithesis of progress, they see their resolutions as creating a better world for all. With polar viewpoints, it’s not uncommon for confrontations to arise.
Keep in mind that special interest groups are more likely to target large organizations because protesters want as much attention as possible for their cause. By engaging major corporations they are more likely to draw the media. Plus, activists’ pressure on industry...
"Why give money to people who don't like us?"
"We're broke at home, so how can we afford to send money to people abroad?"
These are the two most oft-repeated objections to spending money on international affairs programs heard by many U.S. senators and congressmen. So why would the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), a coalition of over 400 businesses and non-governmental organizations along with over 130 retired generals and admirals, call on Congress this week to do exactly that?
It's just smart business.
A senior sales executive at a major American company recently told me, "We're the best in the world at designing the next generation of products in [our industry]. But we're terrible at figuring out the next generation market for those products." For many American companies, from aviation to pharmaceuticals, the lead time for product development can be decades. According to this executive, "As a company, we need to be in these developing markets now...investing through our corporate responsibility and citizenship programs," she said. "That's why we need partnerships with NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and folks like USAID...they've got intimate knowledge, on the ground in developing nations and can help us build trust in those countries now so we don't show up late to the...
Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), a customer-owned health benefits company that operates the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, has focused on improving the health and wellness of its plan members and communities for more than 75 years. The health care industry is complex and constantly evolving and, therefore, new ways and channels of communication are necessary to respond appropriately to new challenges. HCSC is prepared for the evolution of the marketplace and has developed and implemented innovative approaches that deliver valued health products and solutions to all plan members—in any environment.
While targeting issues and creating innovative projects to tackle specific health problems across HCSC’s four states is important, a shift in thinking around how the organization approaches all opportunities is imperative to overall success. Autonomous work to improve health outcomes is no longer appropriate as HCSC strives to incorporate partnership, collaboration, and innovation to find reasonable solutions to these challenges. Involving and leveraging expertise, experience, products, services, and many other assets from both the public and private sector, the communities in which HCSC operates, in addition to their own employees, serves to create an environment that fosters sustainable models of change. HCSC approaches these opportunities with the goal of creating a system of change that can be replicated in other...
Today, top companies are doing many different things to engage their employees in corporate responsibility (CR). For example, there has been a large increase in corporate volunteering—including global service learning programs where companies send teams of employees into emerging markets to help groups and organizations address economic, social, and environmental concerns. On the operating front, today more employees are involved in sustainable supply chain management, cause-related marketing, and green business initiatives. Ericsson, the Swedish maker of advanced telecom equipment, pulls these threads together when engaging its employees in corporate social innovation.
To live out its guiding value of “innovate every day,” Ericsson hosts a grass-root Collaborative Idea Management Program that enables employees to propose and build on innovative ideas in every region and layer of the company. Over 300 Electronic IdeaBoxes set up by employees have, to date, cumulated more than 16,000 ideas and comments from over 10,000 users. These...
By: Michael Hendrix, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
[Editor's Note: This post was original published here. It is the second in a series of blog posts about Millennials in the workforce. The first post: "What will Millennials Think of American Business?]
When every new generation joins the workforce, it can sometimes seem like they’ve entered the five stages of grief. It looks something like this:
- The freshly minted graduate faces denial that spring break is gone and a job is even necessary, followed by…
- Anger, as cynical detachment morphs into an attempt to assign blame on whoever confined them to a cubicle.
- Then they enter the...
The Millennial generation is the future of the American public. While the opinions of older generations might be set, this younger generation brings new perspectives on society that can change the perception of American business. As the key to future perceptions of business, on what side will Millennials fall? Will business garner a higher perception or a lower one from the youngest Americans?
This blog post is the first in a two-part series by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on the topic of Millennials. In this post, we will consider their role in changing the public's opinion of business. In the next post, we will consider a potential crisis of conflict among their generation.
The Issue of Trust
There are several reasons for the business community to be worried about its perception among the American public. Survey research points to declining trust in big business, the financial system, and the CEOs who lead our companies. In 2000, Gallup found that 23% of Americans expressed “very little” confidence in Big Business (essentially the same amount found in 1973 when they began asking this question). By...
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) to create the Water Is Your Business campaign (www.waterisyourbusiness.org), a grassroots advocacy tool designed to dramatically increase the dialogue - informed by facts - on the critical importance of investing in our country's water infrastructure.
Water scarcity is becoming increasingly common throughout the United States. The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports at least 36 states are expected to face water shortages by the end of this year. But water scarcity isn't just about adequate supply sources – it's also about waste. In the U.S., about 16% of treated water never reaches the tap, which the U.S. Geological Survey estimates is the equivalent to 1.7 trillion gallons lost every year.
This is the direct result of an aging and rapidly deteriorating system of pipes and plants that compose our nation's water infrastructure. Water mains are particularly at risk; they currently break at an astounding rate of 650 per day, or 240,000 every single year, a...
I’ve been making a point to find and study companies that are changing the game: companies who look at conventional business models that are resource-, material-, or energy- intensive and say, “the more efficient, sustainable, and less-wasteful route is the better way to go.” These are companies that say, “if we find a way to make communities win, then our customers, our shareholders, and our employees will win too.” When I find compelling examples I’ll try to share them in this space.
I think I’ve found one in Rubicon Global, a technology-based company that dares to reinvent the waste and recycling industry. Founded in 2008, venture-backed Rubicon Global is growing by leaps and bounds and has vaulted to join the ranks of the industry’s two largest players. The business model is equal parts cost savings and sustainability. Rubicon Global works with its customers – including major retailers, distributors, manufacturers and property managers throughout North America – to eliminate waste, recycle more, contain costs, and reduce their environmental footprint. And the company concentrates on managing its own asset-base in order to leave a light footprint. It doesn’t own a landfill, so there is no incentive to take refuse to the dump. It doesn’t own trucks to increase motivation for reducing pick-ups and vehicle miles-traveled.
“Social” may be the defining term of our generation. Which is curious, since many serious thinkers suggest that the illusions of social media have actually made us more isolated– alone on our devices, leading a digital life. I think the jury is out, though my suspicion is that the impact of social media is to exacerbate/enhance personality traits and practices that are already there. So loners find more to do in their loneliness, and the extroverted make yet more friends and find yet more reinforcement from them. However we feel about it, “social” is not simply here to stay – it is driving pretty much everything else.
And while social – as in social media – is not quite what the coiners of “corporate social responsibility” had in mind, the connections are powerful. For one thing, CSR is driven by transparency, and social media have proved a megaphone for broadcasting information just as they have also served as a microscope for discovering it. More fundamentally, social media are shaping emergent global communities. Not simply holding individual companies and industries accountable, but breaking down organizational boundaries and shattering the power of marketers to shape consumer perception of brands. While the “Arab Spring” had causes beyond social media, it was social which proved the key accelerant. And it is this “accelerant” quality, a multiplier effect that has made the development of social on top of Internet technology such a threatening, potent, and...