Thursday, January 26, 2006

Innovations in Corporate Responsibility - IBM

This was a headline on our IBM corporate Intranet this morning, and it really caught my eye. has just published "Innovations in Corporate Responsibility 2004-2005", which highlights the company's corporate responsibility activities and updates most of the data that IBM reports on a regular basis.

I haven't read it yet, but I know IBM does some really great things, more than I realized. And I hope to read how much more we are planning to do... More comments after I actually read the report, and I would love your comments too. What do you want from our major corporations, many of them with more economic pull than medium sized countries? What do you expect beyond shareholder returns? And how do you let them (big corporations) know what's acceptable, and what's not?

Corporations are constantly trying to assess marketplace needs and wants, and they are looking at the some really simple things, like what are people buying! So basically, everyday as we purchase products (groceries, electronics, vacations, supplies, gifts, services, gas, power...), we are voting "yes, more of this!". We are rewarding producers of goods and services with our $$$, and basically telling them that we support their practices and methods by which these good/services are produced and delivered to us.

Frankly, I never thought of it this way until fairly recently. So it's not even a conscious vote, I believe, for most people. Many of us are just on auto-pilot, trying to provide for our families and our future - right? We are good people, overall, and we don't know what we don't know about the environmental and economic impact of these purchases. Until we really start to look... And I have started to look, and to "vote" much differently with my dollars.

I am buying almost all organic foods, not just because I want the best health/least risk for my family, but because I want to support companies and small businesses, and farms that produce these goods with much less impact on the environment! I am buying environmentally friendly cleaning products, and in general, to buy from companies that I believe are "doing the right things" for the world. In 2006, I plan to purchase windpower for my electricity at home. I plan to shift my investments to socially responsibile corporations/funds. And you know what, it takes a bit more conscious thought, but it feels really right, and empowering. And I am trying to teach my kids to think about these things as well (but that's another blog topic!).

So I encourage you to think about how you are voting with your $$$. Even small changes can make a difference, and send the message to corporations and other institutions that we do care about our neighbors, and the health of our familes, and our environment. And if you want to be more explicit about that message, here's a link to the "Take Action" page on Co-op America website, one of my new favorite places for exploring more socially responsible living.

Is my skin turning "green"? No, not visibly... But I think my heart is...