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Is healthcare a corporate responsibility?

Posting in Healthcare

The healthcare debate is just as relevant in corporate social responsibility circles as sustainability. So why aren't more companies talking about it in this light?

The head of corporate social responsibility for British Telecom Americas (Kevin Moss) has posted a blog on what is a rather touchy topics these days: the U.S. healthcare crisis. Yes, I'm calling it a crisis because it is.

His rather pointed question to peers in his position is the following: Why hasn't there been more commentary on healthcare reform among this community. You should definitely read his whole post here but his observation is that this debate carries all the main characteristics of typical social issues:

  • The solution (or lack thereof) will have a profound impact on society at large
  • It will affect a majority of employees
  • It will carry major cost implications for employers
  • It poses an ethical dilemma
  • It could have a positive (or negative) impact on brand awareness

I have one theory about why more companies haven't been especially vocal about all that's going on and it is this: While corporate sustainability strategy at large stands to have a very beneficial impact on a company's cost structure, the same can't currently be said about healthcare. I mean, not to be too blase or jaded about it, but look at Wal-Mart. It isn't interested in the sustainability of its supply chain just because it makes the company look good. It is interested because it can become more efficient in the process.

On paper or at least when you look at the short term, healthcare is a very polarizing, expensive issue for companies both small and large with few visible, tangible benefits. But over the long term, isn't the health of employees a real issue, especially if more of your staff will be working later into their life? What's more, aren't the companies that do healthcare right more likely to attract the right employees? I honestly believe that salary and healthcare are almost on a par, now, when it comes to the things that a job candidate will consider before joining your company.

As we look at the light approaching at the end of the tunnel as far as economic growth is concerned, now might be the time to take action on your healthcare coverage strategy. Heck, if enough businesses big and small push back on the system and say 'Enough is enough," maybe that will have more of an impact than this annoying, endless debate.

Weigh in with me or with Kevin Moss, you have a moral obligation to do so.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure