Not a day goes by that I don’t mutter “Are you kidding me??” in utter disbelief scanning the latest news story. The stories range from the slaughter of soon to be extinct animals to a different kind of prey in the trafficking of the innocent or sexual harassment. The debates about gun control, opioids, climate change, nuclear weapons, racism, cryptocurrencies, foreign infiltration, trade wars and immigrants seeking asylum the world over dominate the news. And so, the blinders go on, we put our fingers in our ears and retreat because … it hurts!
We may not be able to relate to the problems that don’t touch us personally though they are getting closer to our back doors. But, it doesn’t stop us from throwing politicians under the bus on Facebook and a myriad of other online sites, from dating sites to OpEds or lamenting the state of affairs with our friends. But …. how many of us are actually doing something about the very things that we pontificate about? How many of us are afraid to talk about these issues with strangers, family or friends for fear of ruffling feathers or worse, losing them?
Does somebody, nobody and everybody live at your house too? We are not surprised to hear those words from our children when caught in a little white lie or of those we know who seek to excuse behavior in their personal life. But, for me, there is a weird twist in how these three phantoms are creeping into the business world. It’s not surprising, but we need to wake up!
Social responsibility programs have become the norm, no longer just a “nice to have.” Whereas companies used to have an advantage if they had a social impact initiative, they are now at a complete disadvantage if they don’t. Consumers, employees, investors and other stakeholders within the corporate community expect it. If price and quality are the same … and “word of mouse” is king … they will go with the committed corporate citizen.
Where I’m struggling, is that a corporation is only a group of citizens who come together to work after someone filed corporate papers to start the business. If these very individuals are oblivious or just plain apathetic to the current state of affairs exploding around them, how can we expect the corporation to do anything about it? They are the corporation!
We talk a lot about why our companies should be good corporate citizens, asking them to step up to the plate and resolve all of the ills of the world that the nonprofits don’t have the time and money to address. Let’s get clear - that means you and me – not somebody, nobody and everybody! Every day that you go to work and take home a paycheck, you are that corporate citizen and above all, a citizen with responsibilities to this planet we call home.
These days, it’s unlikely that the elective of choice in high schools is civics or that 95% of the population is comfortable discussing their political views without vetting the listener’s policy and position statements. Face it, in the 2016 election, 40% of us ignored and gave up the right to have a voice. Was that uneducated or apathetic? Are we in a better place by abdicating that privilege?
On August 25th I will be speaking and meeting with many other bi-partisan committed women who want to turn this tide of apathy. CREW (Civically Re-engaged Women) will be convening in Rochester, NY tto celebrate the first women’s rights convention ever held at “Seneca Falls Revisited – a women’s equality weekend”. It’s hard to feel inspired in this chaotic world we live in and this is a chance for you to feel history and get clarity on your role. Even if you can’t join us, consider:
We absolutely cannot get off this merry go round until every single person takes on their civic role as an interested and compassionate citizen and steps away from single mindedness. Then, our schools, businesses, non-profits and government sector may, just may, have a chance to survive this debacle because the very people that they are made of, care. They need you, I need you! I’m just a click away.
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All rights reserved – Linda Lattimore