The desire to create something new or to improve on something already existing is a strong, basic instinct the human race demonstrates both on an individual scale as well as within groups and organizations. This was especially apparent during the Industrial Revolution when manufacturing dramatically increased the standard of living in first-world societies. Though the U.S. has become a service-based industry since then, we’re still a prominent force in the innovation field. By taking advantage of our cheap resources in information gathering and the freedom to build a business from our backyard or garage (literally), the U.S. is seeing a drastic upsurge in entrepreneurial startups.
With this freedom, the business has a responsibility toward the community and environment to make them better; this is especially true for large manufacturing companies, (2,000+ employees). The benefits (increase in local economy) a manufacturing company provides can easily be eclipsed by the negative impacts (pollution, over-worked employees, and other unethical business decisions) it delivers if these problems are not discovered and managed quickly. In my very short, yet well-rounded career in the manufacturing world I have seen some great outward-focused programs that direct a majority of the company’s profits towards bettering the employees, the community and the environment, (not always in that order). The four major targets that these successful and sustainable companies have poured their excess resources into to make others and themselves better include:
- Positive Environmental Impact
- Reducing energy, material and cost waste in production and all supportive departments
- Employee Empowerment and Advancement
- Providing training opportunities that allow for both financial returns for the company and progressing the employee through their career goals
- Life-Supportive Compensation and Benefits
- Continuously searching and providing fair payment in the form of salary, bonuses, insurance packages, and other programs to create well-grounded and loyal employees
- Internal and External Relationship Maintenance
- Hiring the right leaders that inspire and support the organization as well as the community to be better than their current state
By touching on these topics (and many more) I hope to express, learn, grow, spread, and (of course) challenge these concepts in our modern manufacturing industry to establish the gold standard for our future global economy. A good rule of thumb for any manufacturer (well-established for centuries or just brewing your first beer batch in your garage out of your significant other’s brand-new drink dispenser canister) comes from a modified quote made famous by John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your community can do for you, but what can you do for your community.”
Hi, Kait. Corporations do not do things out of the kindness of their hearts, but rather for benefit of their stock price. It’s just the way it’s set up. The good ones make a good show of it, and make the right choices when all things are equal, but there is no asterisk at the bottom of a fired CEO’s profile for “but he was a good guy.” I’m in a green industry. Managers do things to be green… CFO’s sign off on returns. Good CFO’s ask how the marketing department can get mileage out of that. The good news is that at least a little bit of a corporation’s ability to provide a return is based on public sentiment, and that in some cases doing the right thing provides a return. But only upon expectation of penalty will they do the right thing at a statistically significant dead cost. Corporations are not egalitarian by definition. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It makes folks get out of bed every day.
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Thanks, SC! I appreciate the dose of realism. I’m wanting to discuss the different methods to still be financially successful while still benefiting the community. What you’ve mentioned brings up a good point I haven’t thought of: I wonder if that companies that I’ve defined as successful in the form of being corporate social responsible, green, and other factors how many are public and how many are private? Thanks, again!
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