I know I have been shouting from the rooftops about how the private sector must step up to help us solve our community challenges. The conversation is starting to come into clearer focus with momentum from CEO’s the caliber of Howard Schultz not only paying lip service to the idea, but creating tangible initiatives to achieve this goal. He profiles the concepts and conceits of the programs in this blog post on the Harvard Business Review.
In the article, Schultz profiles two Starbucks initiatives created with community in mind but driven by and intent to drive the bottom line as well. The two programs are:
- A new community model in the neighborhoods of Harlem, New York and Crenshaw, Los Angeles– where community organizations will share in the profits of a store in each community.
- Partnering with Opportunity Finance Network, a nationally recognized nonprofit, Starbucks established a fund to lend to small businesses, the primary creators of new jobs.
We applaud Mr. Schultz for creating these initiatives, but more importantly for his vision on how corporations and the private sector can and should step up to make a difference in the communities they serve. His words give us inspiration that others can look to as well:
“It is no longer enough to serve customers, employees, and shareholders. As corporate citizens of the world, it is our responsibility — our duty — to serve the communities where we do business by helping to improve, for example, the quality of citizens’ education, employment, health care, safety, and overall daily life, plus future prospects.
We must act not because making a positive difference is a nice thing to do. The escalating crisis of confidence around the world is a phenomenon linked not only the global financial crisis but also to the uncertainty surrounding many governments — from the Middle East’s transitional democracies and Europe’s debt-strapped countries to the U.S.’s inability to collaboratively solve its own serious problems. With public leaders unable to adequately address the needs of their citizens and fix teetering economies, the responsibility to pick up the slack must shift to private organizations.”