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As I See It

We are in the final days of 2000.

January begins a new year and actually starts the new millennium. December is a good time to take

stock of our situation, both corporately and personally.

Times are good, and we have much to be thankful for.

The Salvation Army greets us at the malls, Christmas decorations are shining in both homes and

businesses and everyone seems to be of good cheer. I think this is a good time to reflect on our

corporate citizenship and see if there are changes that we could make to improve our communities and

businesses.

Following are 10 suggestions for improving corporate citizenship. None are new or revolutionary and

they don’t cost very much. However, just choosing a couple of them for your business could make a lot

of difference in the year and years to come.

No. 1. Never break the law. Make it clear to every employee that violation of any local or federal law

will not be tolerated, even if the crime goes undetected by authorities. In addition to being good basic

policy, insisting on compliance with the law has another benefit: people who cheat the government will

cheat you.

No. 2. Paint your building, mow your grass, fix a fence. Good neighbors take care of their property.

With just a little fix-up, you’ll send a strong message to the community that you are proud of your

company, and that pride will be reflected in your employees.

No. 3. Support employees who are active in the community. Make it easy for employees to be active in

their church, the United Way, civic groups and other organizations. Communities are substantially

impacted by volunteer efforts and by supporting these efforts, the company, the employee and the

community benefit.

No. 4. Create an executive-on-loan program. By encouraging executives to lend their expertise to

charitable organizations not only do the organizations function more effectively, but the company’s

status as a leader in the community is enhanced.

No. 5. Choose a cause for the company as a whole to support. Hospitals, the United Way, the Muscular

Dystrophy Association and humane societies, for example, have benefited greatly from corporate

support. Allowing employees to participate in choosing the cause will encourage their ownership in the

project and insure their enthusiasm toward participation.

No. 6. Start a company speakers bureau. Select an issue, or several issues, of local importance and

encourage employees to speak to local civic clubs. These groups are always looking for speakers and

will welcome the opportunity to hear from you. This is not an appropriate forum to promote company

products or services.

No. 7. Fund a scholarship. When you contribute to someone’s education, you invest in the future. In

addition to community improvement, funding a scholarship generates a good deal of favorable publicity.

Local colleges and universities will put your contribution to work in a way that will benefit generations

to come.

No. 8. Adopt a local public school. Schools need guest lecturers, benefactors to underwrite supplies and

successful role models to serve as aides and mentors. Remember that today’s students are tomorrow’s

corporate leaders.

No. 9. Recycle corporate trash. One company’s trash is society’s treasure. From used paper to copper

in old wires to uneaten food in the cafeteria, there is value in much that we discard.

No. 10. If you must downsize, do it with compassion and care. Layoffs are sometimes necessary and

are always painful for the community. Handle layoffs with kid gloves rather than callous disregard.

There you have it. Putting any of these 10 options into play can strengthen your company and improve

your community image at the same time. January is a time of new beginnings and renewed

commitments. Use this spirit of newness to improve your operation and your community at the same

time.

Thought for the Moment

If you don’t change today, your tomorrows will be like your yesterdays.

— Unknown

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is

cpajones@msbusiness.com.

About Joe D. Jones

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