Dell Computer

Why Spend Money on Being a Good Corporate Citizen?

(3BL Media/Justmeans) —The fifth edition of Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Summit in New York, was full of inspiration, encouragement for weary travelers on the road to sustainability, and a healthy helping of good old practical advice.

Baltimore Gas & Electric’s CEO Calvin Butler opened the event with the question that was probably ringing in most heads around the room. Why are we using money on being good corporate citizens? The next two days went a long way towards answering that question in a variety of convincing, sometimes familiar, sometimes innovative ways.

For Butler, it is both a matter of making a deposit in their reputation account and down payment on their commitment to make their community stronger. If nothing else the company has shown what endurance looks like after 200 years in business. It also helps that the investment banks the company works with, all want to know what they are doing about climate change.

Here are some other responses from Day One of the event.

The Ford Company Fund, having spent some $1.5B over the past 68 years certainly agrees with the sentiment, but for somewhat different reasons. For one thing, President Jim Vella says Millennials won’t stay without this kind of outlet. Sounding a grander theme, he cited the Ford founder who said you cannot have a sustainable company without a sustainable society. Among the many projects he described, the idea of building tiny houses for the homeless seemed particularly unique. Says Vella, doing nothing is “risking the future.” The world is demanding this.

Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, said that, “When businesses lead, it gets you away from that Democrat-Republican paradigm.” Reed encouraged the business leaders in the room to partner with cities as an effective and immediate way to sustain progress on climate action.

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