What Makes a Good Corporate Citizen?

PACE logo reduced by one third Three What Makes a Good Corporate Citizen?Citizenship isn’t really a term I hear much anymore. I would be surprised to learn that anyone still teaches “civics” in high school. But there is a group that is promoting the concept.   

November is Citizenship Month, according to PACE, a Spokane Valley group of educators, parents, businesses and faith-based organizations which works together with kids to recognize and promote good character. ( PACE stands for Partners for Advancing Character Education.)

I got to thinking about it last night as I was chopping veggies and listening to NPR. The Australian guest commented that although India hasn’t signed a nuclear non-proliferation treaty, they are currently acting as a good global citizen. Global citizen? Hm.

What about good corporate citizens?

Sometimes it’s easier to catch companies doing the wrong thing, like in the 1920s when you could see raw sewage contaminating the Spokane River or in the 1960s when the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught on fire. (The Cuyahoga allegedly burned 12 times before, but it was the 1969 fire that is credited with launching the environmental movement.)

When I think of good corporate citizens, Rosauers grocery store comes to mind. During the winter of 2008, Spokane suffered massive back-to-back snowstorms. While shoppers browsed the aisles on December 29, part of the roof of the north Rosauers collapsed—25,000 square feet of ceiling. Fortunately nobody was hurt.

Equally fortunately, instead of laying off workers, President & CEO Jeff Philipps temporarily transferred the workers he could to other stores and paid 90 percent of the base wages of those he couldn’t. In addition, Philipps continued to pay a portion of worker benefits. The store took four months to re-open and cost several million.

Earlier in the decade, Aaron Feurstein, the Malden Mills (Polarfleece) CEO also made headlines by caring more about his employees and his hometown than his bottom line. After a devastating fire, Feurstein continued to pay his people and provide benefits. A deeply spiritual man, the CEO said he was inspired by the Torah to do the right thing.

Red Stripe Beer is a company I found garnering praise in this morning’s Jamaica Observer for its corporate citizenship. According to the article by Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, the company’s community development programs have positively impacted the lives of many Jamaicans. Together with established educational organizations, Red Stripe provides business training for would-be workers in tourism, hospitality, the arts and even entrepreneurship.  

Do you know of any good corporate citizens?

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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.