Alignment and partnership between business and community

In last week’s blog, I summarized a workshop I presented on September 22 at the Carolinas Conference on Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement. The workshop and blog reviewed the growing need for competencies around diversity and global awareness for leaders in today’s fast growing diverse global economy.

In addition to the workshop, I also was one of six panelists on a “Leadership Panel Discussion” along with other business and community leaders. One of the questions posed to the panel was “Is there a need for alignment or partnership between community and business organizations in our constantly changing local or regional landscape? Any recommendations for fostering these partnerships?”

I offered four points:

1. Traditionally, corporations have taken the lead in community partnerships and promoting diversity. For example, IBM provided equal opportunity and equal pay for African American and female employees at least a decade before it became federal law. Today, many corporations include sexual orientation and gender identity / expression in their diversity policies, as well as offer domestic partner benefits whereas our federal government has been unsuccessful in providing these protections and benefits. Especially with the log jam in Congress today, corporations will need to step up and lead.

2. In today’s economy, corporate wealth continues to increase while personal wealth is decreasing. A recent Associated Press article (link to article) reported that in the past quarter, personal wealth declined by 0.3% while at the same time corporate wealth (cash stockpiles specifically) increased 4.5%. It only makes sense that along with corporate wealth increase comes additional responsibility to lead within the community utilizing these resources.

3. A very important way for corporations to help the economy and local community is to focus on business development projects in traditionally poor areas with high levels of unemployment.

4. Finally, corporations, as they participate in corporate projects should continue to encourage employees to individually get involved in their community. This can involve not overworking employees so they have the time to get involved in their communities, providing additional time off for participation in projects, and continuing programs like matching grants where corporations provide matching donations to their employee community contributions.