July 29, 2014–We were pleased to see the New York Timespiece, “Motivating Corporations to Do Good’ (7/15/2014). At CECP, founded in 1999 by Paul Newman and leading CEOs to do exactly that, we work with a coalition of 150 CEOs who are leading businesses in an increasingly transparent climate. But what truly motivates companies to “do good” is not purely perception, but also the win-win nature of companies investing in the community. A 2011 Harvard Business School study showed companies that prioritize environmental and social performance financially outperformed those that do not. We believe an investor cares about that.
The public has the right to expect companies will do the right thing, and there are scores of corporate role models with lessons to share. The “good” companies the author cites are largely today’s most successful brands and community engagement programs—such as The Coca-Cola Company’s sustainability mindset and Ford Motor Company’s commitment to education.
And there is evidence that companies are turning a corner. CECP’s data show that 56% of CEOs believe that companies will lead progress toward long-term societal improvement. They are doing so by infusing a strong corporate culture into their long-term strategy and reinforcing it with the right incentives. That corporate culture is dominated by a clear focus on its customers, employees, and investors, as it simultaneously addresses pressing societal challenges that feed back into the success of the company.