The Sharp Edge of Corporate Responsibility

The story of RFRA and Hoosier Hospitality continues to unfold. At the time of this writing, multiple businesses, cities, and membership organizations have taken to the streets to decry the motivations of the bill as well as put pressure on our state legislators to make speedy and necessary changes to our existing legal structure.

In many ways, what we're witnessing is the Corporate Social Responsibility in action.  Businesses like Angie's List, SalesForce, the NCAA and multiple universities making statements, taking action to strongly demonstrate their stand and conviction in fighting discrimination.  The pressure and platform that these organizations have is powerful, and has served the people (of at least Indianapolis) well in amplifying the voice of the concerned. 

In some ways, I love it.  In other ways, I see these actions as Corporate Social Responsibility as I too often do: well intentioned but not as thorough or meaningful as it could have been; running the risk of being little more than lip-service when the dust clears.  A well-structured CSR program should cross the boundaries of all C-suite departments.   For example:

CEO: Is the plan in line with the values our organization wants to pursue? Am I willing to personally and professionally support the activities our organization is pursuing?

CMO: Does this plan instill brand goodwill?  Generate meaningful relationships with our consumer?

HR: Are our employees engaged?  Does this support them in feeling valued and supported by our organization? 

CFO: Are our activities in line with our financial objectives?  Are they sustainable? 

In the case of the existing climate in Indiana, I do support the organizations who made a stand for their beliefs, but wonder what the fallout will be for employees of those organizations who stand to be hurt not only by RFRA, but by the organizations who made well intentioned but perhaps generalized or blanketed  declarations with significant economic impact.  What do you think will happen?