The compelling challenge for business and society today is to address cross-sector corporate citizenship in an innovative, meaningful, and effective way, transitioning from risk to reward. What do I mean by risk? Well, there is a significant risk facing the private sector if it continues to be viewed in an entirely negative way. That risk is considerable. While views may fluctuate with respect to the public’s view of business or government, a decidedly negative view of business will, if it continues, lead to a range of actions in the near term that could have any number of negative results. If the past is prologue to the future, such negative views will inhibit innovation, creativity, and job growth, and impede positive economic development. Put simply, there is a significant cost in doing nothing. There is also an escalating risk to business if it invites continued criticism resulting from some bad actors that engage in unethical and unacceptable behavior even while others function in a positive way. Businesses that behave poorly and don’t treat their corporate responsibility seriously face the risk of alienating their customers, their shareholders, and their employees. Their corporate life span will be short and largely unsuccessful. Those that function positively may run the risk of being tarred with the same brush used on those that behave badly.

Bad business behavior also risks negative reactions, and rightly so, from the media and the public. Yet this often ...

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