Kassim Reed

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.

Atlanta's Mayor Calls on Businesses to Partner With Cities on Climate Action

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Kasim Reed spoke at the Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Summit in New York. Reed, who has been Atlanta’s mayor since 2010, has been a true leader in the battle against climate change at the scale of a major city. He gave a stirring rebuke against the pessimism and gloom that has been setting in recently among those who have taken up that fight, given recent actions at the federal level. “Seventy-five percent of US population and GDP already resides in metropolitan areas.” Groups like the 7,000-member Global Covenant of Mayors on Climate Policy can take decisive and meaningful actions. “If you want to change the world,” said Reed, “start with a city, then bring things up to scale.” He went on to say that for the most part, national governments are not working very efficiently on this problem, almost anywhere. Reed, who is Chairman of the Transportation and Communications Committee of the US Conference of Mayors, told the audience, “One of the reasons I decided I wanted us to make real progress on this issue, besides having a child and a family, is that I thought that we could produce a model that shows that anybody who wants to take decisive action on this issue, can make real change.”

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