Since President Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, we have witnessed an unprecedented response from local, state, and corporate actors. In the subsequent 24 hours, dozens of companies—including Disney, General Motors, and Apple—and scores of state and local officials pledged continued commitment to the plan. Bloomberg founder and CEO Michael Bloomberg offered to contribute the $15 million dollars that the United States otherwise would have to the operating budget of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In California, Governor Jerry Brown committed to continue talks with China to connect the country to the state’s cap and trade program, which is already linked to Quebec.
I recently had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion as part of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship 2017 International Corporate Citizenship Conference. Phyllis A. James, executive vice president and chief diversity and corporate responsibility officer at MGM Resorts International, moderated the conversation, which also included Jack Bergen, vice president of corporate projects at Arconic, and Caroline Chambers, vice president and diversity programs manager at Comerica Bank. Together, we explored how an integrated approach to corporate responsibility and diversity and inclusiveness can help achieve business goals.
In the United States, approximately 5.6 million youth between the ages of 16 and 24 are disconnected from school and work, and many are not getting the support they need to drive greater engagement. One in three young people— nearly 16 million— will reach the age of 19 without having ever had a mentor in their life of any kind. These rates are even higher for at-risk youth, who experience higher rates of poverty, limited networks, and under-resourced schools. Research shows that even one positive, consistent, caring, relationship with an adult can offset nearly every risk factor in a young person’s life and improve their chances of success.
Today, companies of all sizes are recognizing the role they can play in filling this “mentorship gap” and have simultaneously discovered that they can use mentorship programs to realize both business and corporate responsibility goals. According to the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s most recent Community Involvement Study, companies consistently rank youth programs as one of the most important social issues addressed through their community involvement efforts (See Figure A).
Healthier employees are more productive and engaged in their work. They are less likely to call in sick or use vacation time for illnesses. They also perceive their companies as invested in their well-being and as more attractive places to work. However, the risks of an unhealthy workforce are as significant and numerous as the benefits of a healthy one.
Business leaders are aware of the increasingly significant role that corporate citizenship can play in overall business strategy, and how—if effectively aligned—investments can improve performance.
According to the Center’s 2014 State of Corporate Citizenship study, the majority of executive respondents view corporate citizenship as a way to achieve strategic corporate goals and they expect its importance to increase in the future. In fact, for the first time in the decade that the Center has conducted the study, the majority of executives anticipate resources for every corporate citizenship dimension to increase over the next three years.