Business case for community involvement

As many businesses in Australia and the global economy are now demonstrating, corporate community involvement is not only a value adding business strategy it is becoming a business imperative.

Companies are increasingly looking at community investment as a key contributor to long-term business sustainability. As 75% of companies surveyed in "Corporate Community Involvement" indicated, sustainability is clearly aligned with the long-term commercial viability of a business. It is the key for maintaining community and stakeholder trust, support and legitimacy1 . There are, however, many additional reasons motivating corporate involvement with their communities.

To attract and retain good staff, many businesses are seeking to be recognised as "employers of choice."

A proactive engagement with the broader community ensures staff (and potential staff) view the business as a socially responsible organisation that they would be proud to work for. In addition to staff motivation, loyalty and retention, community involvement also offers the organisation opportunities for staff training and development and the chance to work more closely with their communities.

Corporate community involvement is recognised as facilitating corporate image enhancement, brand recognition and brand reputation. In fact, 71% of companies surveyed in an American research project identified corporate image as being the prime reason for their community investments2 .

Community investment offers business the opportunity to demonstrate commitment to societal goals to a wide variety of stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, government, and other community groups. Recognition and acknowledgement of this commitment affects risk management issues, relations with customers and suppliers, customer satisfaction and, again, employee satisfaction.

Where compliance and regulatory standards are required of an industry social investment can assist with compliance strategies and government relations. Open lines of communication with the broader community allow for early alerts to potential risks, and can assist in meeting regulatory standards.

Community activities also providean opportunity for creative andpowerful marketing and public rela-tions programs and may give accessto media and markets inaccessiblethrough regular business practices.

Thriving markets and human security go hand in hand; without one, we will not have the other

Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations

Traditionally, many of us have considered corporate citizenship as philanthropy and volunteerprograms. Let me assure you, it is much more than that. It isabout who we are, what we offer in the marketplace and how weconduct our business. It's our reputation. We will be a leader in corporatecitizenship if we are a well-respected, admired and trusted company that peoplebelieve contributes positively to society and uses its resources to create a moresustainable world.

Jacques Nasser- President and Chief Executive Officer, Ford

An additional driver in Australia is the increase in socially responsible investment funds. These funds screen organisations according to their community impact. Organisations that are actively involved in the broader community are likely to be favoured by these funds.

In summary, the benefits accruingto business are wide ranging. They include:
  1. Long term sustainability
  2. Recognition as employer of choice
  3. Increased staff morale
  4. Opportunities for staff training
  5. Increase in brand recognition
  6. Reputation within local community
  7. Improved ties with suppliers
  8. Improved ties with customers
  9. Risk management
  10. Opportunities for creative marketing strategies
  11. Access to key markets
  12. Increased media opportunities
  13. Reduction in regulatory costs
  14. Improved ties with government agencies
  15. Inclusion in ethical investment funds

Working in partnership not only has the potential to enrichpeople's lives but can also deliver tangible results for all Australians.Community and business partnerships are a driver to accomplishbetter outcomes than any group acting alone could achieve.

The Hon John Howard MP, Former Prime Minister of Australia

  1. "Corporate Community Involvement: Establishing a Business Case." Centre for Corporate Public Affairs in conjunction with the Business Council of Australia, Australia, 2000.
  2. Results of a survey of 119 organisations con-ductedand published by The Conference Board.In "The Link Between Corporate Citizenshipand Financial Performance." By Stephen Garone.Conference Board, USA, 1999.


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