JA19 web - Page 36



eorgia’s economy is on re: wages are up,
joblessness is down and it seems every week
brings news that another global company is
relocating operations or manufacturing to the state. In
one recent study, the state even ranked among the top
nine best-performing economic hubs in the country,
outstripping the likes of New York and Texas.
Yet for all the positive markers— and there are a lot
of them— some trouble spots remain like the high
prevalence of poverty or the percentage of our population that lacks high school diplomas.
The state has given a lot to businesses like ours: a
hospitable regulatory regime, some of the world’s
best research universities and a young, well-educated labor force. Now, it’s time to recognize as
beneciaries of that tremendous reservoir of
economic opportunity that businesses of all
sizes share in a responsibility to give back to the
communities and people that helped us prosper.
Deliberate, consistent corporate giving makes for stronger communities,
but it also makes for more robust balance sheets. We believe businesses
should give back and serve because
it’s the right thing, but there’s also a
materially self-serving reason too: consumers and employers are more inclined
to associate with you.
Recently, goBeyondProfit, a business leader-led
initiative to encourage corporate generosity, found
that Georgians are more likely than their peers nationally to factor giving back into employment and purchasing preferences.
The same survey found a stark perception gap
between what employees and consumers believe businesses are doing to give back compared to the perception of business leaders. Eight in 10 employers locally
said their businesses foster a culture that promotes and
includes giving back, while fewer than half of those
businesses’ employees said the same.
Said another way, the business community has
already given back a lot but Georgians, even more than
their peers elsewhere in the country, believe businesses
can and should be doing more.
What does that actually look like? In our cases, it
means nding creative ways to align our unique business operations with community goals, like Dentons
offering pro bono Apple data detectors and legal services
to the redevelopment of Atlanta’s Westside. Or Jackson
Healthcare converting underutilized office space into a
subsidized hub for local non-prots. Or consider the
example of Arke, a Georgia-based technology and consulting rm whose employees lead coding skills workshops at a local prison.
These companies prove that the charity
continuum is a huge one and that there are
ways beyond nancial contributions to make a
difference in the lives of ordinary Georgians.
Of course, there are also tremendous, tangible business benets to corporate generosity
strategies. Not only are Georgians more likely
to work for a company they perceive as
generous, but more than half of consumers said they would be willing to
pay more for products from those
companies they believe are generous to
the community. Read that again,
because it bears repeating: Corporate generosity makes you competitive even when pricing isn’t.
That data helps explain why some of the state’s
most successful commercial enterprises are also some
of its most generous. Even if you don’t share in our
passion for service and charity, you can’t argue with
the numbers. The business of giving back is good for
your business.
Richard Jackson is Chairman and CEO of Jackson Healthcare. He also founded
goBeyondProfit, a resource helping business leaders interested in evolving their
corporate generosity as a business strategy.
Eric Tanenblatt chairs the global public policy and regulation practice at Dentons
and previously served in the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and
George W. Bush, as chief of staff to Gov. Sonny Perdue) and as a senior advisor
to late U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell. He joined goBeyondProfit as an inaugural
ambassador in 2017.
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9
37

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