Doing the right thing

It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote an online column lamenting the loss of good corporate citizenship. Why is it, I asked, that so many IT companies, many of them based in U.S., are doing absolutely nothing for their local communities, if in fact they have any kind of presence here?

At least one reader took exception to my comments. Why, he asked, would I pick, on IT? Isn’t this true for all industries?

Also, he wanted to know, under which rock I had been sleeping? Isn’t this true everywhere? Isn’t it all about cost-cutting and besides, it’s only work, and why should we care?

I’m happy to report now, though, corporate citizenship just might be making a comeback, although under an imposing new name – Corporate Social Responsibility – and it even has an acronym, CSR.

The good thing? Unlike corporate citizenship, it’s not just about PR. It’s about ethics and guidelines and good works, about treating employees and the environment well, and proving that not only is it good to be socially responsible, it is also to your business benefit.

And it’s great that our business leaders are paying attention. On our cover, we have Adine Mees, CEO of a group called the Corporations for Business Social Responsibility (CBSR). (See p. 30.) Interestingly, IT companies have a good track record when it comes to being reponsible specifically in the areas of supplier code of conducts, to community involvement, to improved disposal of computer equipment and supplies.

In Q&A (See p. 24), we talk to Paul Tsaparis, now eight years in the job of running H-P Canada. Tsaparis is committed to good corporate citizenship and being a spokesperson and it sets a good example.

This is good, because as we also see in this issue, technology can collide with an individual’s rights, and what are you supposed to do?

Many corporatons have put guidelines and practices in place. (See story p. 16.) At the same time, the number of complaints to the Privacy Commissioner is increasing, as we just start to come to grips with PIPEDA and other legislation.

And what about a technology such as RFID, (See story, p. 10.) which has so much potential to improve supply chain efficiencies? As it tracks every single product that comes through your door, will it be the ultimate privacy-killer? Lots of questions to ask, but at least our leaders are paying attention.

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