Most people in the tech industry are aware of corporate social responsibility—the idea that companies should give back to their community through service efforts or donations to charitable causes. But there is a new buzzword in town: corporate civic responsibility. Corporate civic responsibility explores the idea that a company’s greatest asset is the power of influence. They can promote civic engagement to their customers and employees to encourage habits like voting or getting involved in social issues. A company’s positive influence can ultimately create greater change.
The Harvard Kennedy Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation recently conducted a study on eight large corporations in the United States that put their corporate social responsibility dollars towards civic engagement. Here are some of their findings:
- According to a 2019 report by Global Strategy Group, 79% of consumers agree that companies should take action on political and social issues.
- Every CEO interviewed finds investing in civic engagement “good for business.” Key benefits of their programs included the opportunity to promote their brand as engaged with the community, elevating the company with elected officials, and forming better relationships with employees
- Civic responsibility can be a very cost-effective form of corporate social responsibility. The programs researched typically required no additional staff, modest time commitments, and a comparably small budget.
- Company leadership notes that the involvement of nonprofit organizations or other experts in the field was crucial to the success of their programs. They kept the information up-to-date and accurate and helped ensure a nonpartisan angle, when desired.
- More companies working in the area of civic engagement helps talking about local issues less political and more of a cultural norm.
Austin Tech Alliance works to get more Austin tech companies and individuals involved in corporate civic responsibility. Our goal is to create a norm of civic involvement that includes taking action and understanding local issues. We also strive to ensure that the great work of Austin’s tech companies is making life better for Austinites. We would love to talk to you about how we can help you motivate and mobilize your peers and employees to get involved in creating a better Austin. Learn more about membership at austintech.org.
Gross, Sofia and Ashley Spillane. Civic Responsibility: The Power of Companies to Increase Voter Turnout. Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. June 2019. https://ash.harvard.edu/files/ash/files/harvard-casestudy-report-digital_copy.pdf