A Movement to Reward Societal Problem Solvers

May 1, 2012

[Editor's Note: This post original appeared on Huffington Post Impact]

Today we face many tough issues as a society and much work is being done to address them. Let's look at a slice of one such challenge -- health.

Diabetes and prediabetes affect 105 million people in the United States. More than half of all Americans could develop these conditions by 2020, at a cost of $3.35 trillion. One NIH clinical trial found that a program of intensive lifestyle intervention could reduce the development of diabetes by 58%. In another pilot initiative, 50% of patients showed health improvements when their pharmacists had better training to offer advice and support to improve blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. These initiatives seem like they work, right?

Would you be surprised if I told you that the driver behind these two initiatives is UnitedHealth Group? At the Business Civic Leadership Center, we're not surprised. In fact, every year we see dozens of business initiatives that end up being social game-changers.

Most media outlets don't want to cover the news of companies stepping up in a positive way (but are eager to wag their finger at the bad). BCLC wants to present the opportunity to dig a little deeper into the role of business in society today.

It's now the month of May. At BCLC, that means it's Corporate Citizenship Month -- the time of year when we ask the nation to show support for good business by nominating a company for the annual Corporate Citizenship Awards. UnitedHealth Group received one of these awards just last year for its diabetes prevention work. Grainger, Kraft Foods, and Pfizer joined UnitedHealth in the winners' circle.

Here's the catch with corporate citizens -- many don't do what they do for the recognition. They engage to create positive impacts because few sectors are better suited to do so. Businesses bring expertise and scalability. They bring the passion of their workforce to bear on social and community issues. They know they have a role to play, and the best corporate citizens play it well. In our recent poll of National Conference attendees (which largely comprised corporate community and public affairs officials), more than 70% of respondents indicated that they believe the real potential of corporate citizenship is to either solve social problems or to change business as usual. Corporate citizens often don't ask for credit, but credit for a job well done is still deserved.

So what the Business Civic Leadership Center is asking of you this month is to think about a company you know that innovates to solve problems, that helps achieve positive outcomes for humanity, the environment, or society at large. Then, nominate that company for a 2012 Corporate Citizenship Award. We have four categories to choose from -- Best Business Neighbor, Best International Ambassador, Best Partnership with a Nonprofit, and Best Corporate Steward.

Being loud and proud isn't for everyone. But we hope corporate citizens everywhere will stand up to be counted. We'll take care of the loud part; it's up to you to help your favorite corporate citizen be proud and be counted in this year's applicant pool. After all, corporate citizenship counts.

BCLC is the U.S. Chamber's resource and voice for businesses' social and philanthropic interests. Its mission is to advance the positive role of business in society. Visit http://bclc.uschamber.com.