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Corporate Social Responsibility: Strengthening Community Resilience
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Corporate Social Responsibility: Strengthening Community Resilience - Executive Leadership Articles

Corporate Social Responsibility: Strengthening Community Resilience

Executive Leadership Articles

Corporate Social Responsibility: Strengthening Community Resilience

A small number of the thirty citizens gathered in a meeting room in Honolulu’s business district is too young to remember the last hurricane that ripped through the islands in 1992, but they have heard the stories, and evidence of the storm’s destruction reminds residents today: at least one resort hotel was damaged so severely that it never reopened. Its unused buildings still stand, hidden now behind locked gates twenty-four years later. Everyone else has a story. Everyone else in the room will always remember.

The group is receiving training in community resilience, conducted by certified experts, coordinated by the civil engineering firm who hosts the training, and attended by a wide swath of the downtown populace, from retirees to members of the city council. A group in the corner brainstorms categories of people, residents of one particular condominium, who might need assistance in case of disaster, and residents of the condo who might best be able to assist them. A group in the front works on similar lists for a rural shoreline neighborhood, making sure to include the area’s homeless community. The emphasis for each of the groups is not only surviving the disaster, but what to do in its immediate wake.

This training is an outreach of the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center, one arm of the U.S. government’s National Disaster Preparedness Consortium. The engineering firm, through a contract with the NDPTC, schedules (and sometimes hosts) training sessions throughout the island chain and other U.S. territories in the Pacific rim, working with churches, school administrators, elected officials, community service agencies, and concerned residents to develop strategies for recovery.

Although disaster preparedness is only peripherally related to the business of the firm, the firm’s leadership saw an opportunity one year ago to be involved in delivering this critical training. With funding from the sponsoring agency, it hired a small team to handle the planning, logistics, registrations, publicity, recruiting, and support resources (meeting rooms, telecom infrastructure, office space, professional networks, and office technology).

This is not charity: the firm’s connections in the business community and beyond were a strong factor in its receiving the contract, and its involvement strengthens its profile and relationships, increasing its visibility as a private company with a mission for the good of the community. Expenses are covered almost entirely by the contract. Still, it’s training that must be delivered, and by taking responsibility for reaching an agreed-upon number of people in an agreed-upon number of locales, there’s no question that it is deeply involved in preparing its friends, neighbors, and clients for the inevitability of another natural disaster.

It’s true that corporate social responsibility often takes the shape of donated time and energy toward charitable events or organizations, but CSR is a multi-faceted concept. Corporations can find multiple avenues for participation, if they approach the search with an open mind and a willingness to play a part.

 

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Corporate Social Responsibility: Strengthening Community Resilience - Executive Leadership Articles

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