Oct 03, 2016 - 1:45pm

Businesses Play a Big Role in Offering Solutions to Society's Big Problems

Many people feel we’re losing the ability to solve many of society's daunting problems, but business can play an important role.

“Corporations must work to be a force for good in society,” declared Tom Wilson, CEO of Allstate and vice chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in an op-ed in the Washington Post.

The corporation of the next 100 years must take on societal problems. On their own, governments, social service and charitable organizations simply do not have the capabilities and resources to solve the problems of inadequate education, poverty or public fiscal insolvency.

Businesses are adept at solving problems, because they do it every day. They make sure the package is delivered; the meal is made in a clean environment; the widget is made in a manner that’s safe for workers, customers, and the community; and the customer is satisfied. If they don’t succeed, they're forced to close their doors. That accountability focuses the mind. A lot can be accomplished by applying that mindset on society’s ills.

One way we see businesses stepping up is by what they do for their workers.

At his annual Labor Day briefing, U.S. Chamber senior vice president Randel Johnson laid out a numerical snapshot of what employers contribute to their workers:

  • $7.9 trillion in wages in salaries, $1.8 trillion in benefits, and $232 billion in retirement income in 2015
  • 175 million workers were covered by employer-sponsored health insurance in 2014
  • 91% of full-time workers and three-quarters of all workers receive paid time off

At first glance this looks like the cost of doing business. It is, but at the same time it’s providing millions of the people the means for living fulfilling lives.

Businesses’ contributions don’t stop with their employees. Johnson also noted that corporations donated $18.45 billion in 2014.

Businesses have the capabilities to do good. Public policies that free them to create, innovate, grow, create jobs, and contribute to the common good are paramount to maximizing their contributions.

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