At Make It Better, we’ve long enjoyed profiling individuals whose work makes our community better. We consider them Local Treasures. We realized though that businesses that embed good social practices in their work culture and business plans often have even greater impact.
Of course, we want to amplify and inspire more of this kind of good work, too. Therefore, we’re delighted to announce our new Small Business and Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative.
We’ve put considerable thought into this effort, including researching organizations with expertise in this area. They include CSR Wire; Walgreens, long a “local” leader in this space; BMO Harris; Fran Edwardson, former CEO American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois; Ethical Corporation, which hosts international events in this space, including an upcoming one in NYC; and Center For Higher Ambition.
We particularly applaud the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its annual Corporate Citizenship Awards.
Multiple CSR definitions exist. The most widely used is “People, Planet, Product,” implying that businesses should be mindful of how their practices affect employees and members of the community they serve as well as the environmental impact of their workplace and production practices. One of our informal advisors, who has worked in the CSR space on behalf of corporations and nonprofits, recommended the categories of CSR on which we will focus to include a fourth category: Community:
- People [Employees]
- Planet [Environment]
- Community [How the business impacts people who are not employees]
With those categories top of mind, we launch this initiative with a call out to the sponsors of last year’s Heroes Breakfast supporting the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois. Every sponsor embodies best practices in at least one of those categories:
- Baker and McKenzie LLP
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois
- The Boler Company
- Dr. Young Chung
- Deloitte LLP
- Heidrick and Struggles International, Inc.
- Huron Consulting Group
- Loop Capital
- Nicor Gas
- RR Donnelly
- US Foods
The Heroes Breakfast honors ordinary people who have demonstrated extraordinary selflessness, courage and compassion within the greater Chicago community. From two paramedics who formed a human shield around an injured policeman to a doctor addressing veteran needs with specialized mental health programs, the heroes recognized by the Breakfast inspire us to reengage with our communities’ needs.
In the same vein, corporate heroes create and execute strategies that positively impact the community and the environment. Their choices may not immediately be good for the bottom line, but interestingly, a growing body of research (from people like Wharton Business School professor Adam Grant) indicates that the most successful businesses in the long run are those that encourage a double bottom line: social good and economic impact. Time and again, we notice that the most successful locally owned businesses nurture a supportive community culture and enjoy long-time committed employees.
Our hope is that this initiative leads to the development of our own CSR Awards for large and small businesses.
You can help too. Please share your recommendations for businesses we should celebrate because their work also makes the world a better place. If you work with one of the Local Hero Sponsors cited above, please share your observations about them too.
Please send your recommendations to [email protected] with the subject line Social Responsibility.
Make It Better is proud to be the media sponsor of the 2016 American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast.