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Strengthen Your Brand by Being a Good Corporate Citizen
By: Cindy Wendland
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What is a good citizen? A good citizen is one who properly fulfills his or her role as a citizen. There are many opinions as to what constitutes a good citizen. Theodore Roosevelt said, "The first requisite of a good citizen in this Republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight." Corporate Responsibility (CR) Magazine just published their Top 100 Corporate Citizen List. Their view of good corporate citizenship involves seven categories: environment, climate change, employee relations, human rights, governance, finance, and philanthropy. Even more, there are 298 data points of disclosure and performance measures within those categories.

This list is very significant. Bill Hatton, Editor-in-Chief of CR Magazine says, “The Top 100 Corporate Citizen list of companies are to be recognized for meeting the highest commitment to the programming and transparency necessary to lead the business community in the area of responsible corporate practices." A highly responsible company would tend to be one in which people would want to work and/or buy goods or services. Looking at one up close, let’s look at Gap Inc., which ranked number three. Their founders have an aspiration, which is “do more than sell clothes."

Gap’s social responsibility program has a component that is logically tied to the clothing industry. They have a program that teaches basic skills like health awareness, literacy, stress management, and verbal communication to women garment workers in developing countries including Cambodia and India. These programs can improve the quality of life of their workers and increase their company loyalty.

In other areas, Gap has suspended orders for products made with angora given concerns about the treatment of angora rabbits. Gap already cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and pledges to cut an additional 20%. On the community side, women make up 80% of garment workers worldwide, but relatively few advance to supervisor or manager roles in the workplace. Gap's P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) program offers female garment workers the life skills, education, and technical training they need to advance at work and in life.

Since we as consumers have a choice where we shop, many of us would rather shop where we know the company is following highly respected practices. Congrats Gap and other Corporate Citizens. Keep leading the charge!

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About the Author
Cindy Wendland has a background in marketing and finance. She is the creative director for an online men's health magazine, BrainBrawnBody.com, and she gets to write their leisure/travel blog. She is also a web designer helping her clients with online community engagement, websitesbywendland.com. Prior to her web years, she worked in pharmacy consulting.
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