Business prospers best in communities which have limited social, economic and environmental problems. Currently, however, there is plenty of evidence to indicate that many communities are experiencing the types of problems which, in one way or another, affect the profitability of business.
Governments at all levels in Australia and the community organisations that they fund are struggling to find the solutions to some of our most serious social problems such as:
Illegal drug use
Crime and violence
Inadequate health care
Severe public housing shortages
Poor support to young families/children
Major environmental concerns with which governments are struggling include land and water degradation, greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on climate change.
Eventually, all of us pay for the costs of these problems not being fixed, whether it’s through our taxes, reduced productivity, price increases or declining sales.
A large proportion of our taxes is devoted to funding Centrelink benefits and pensions for people, many of whom are unable to find or undertake paid work because of limited job opportunities or because of their personal or health problems.
It makes good sense, therefore, for companies to work with others in the community to resolve local issues and help people improve their circumstances.
Locals Have a Stronger Commitment
There is a growing belief both in Australia and overseas that because governments are struggling to resolve many of our communities’ problems, communities themselves need to play a greater role in addressing problems and strengthening their towns.
This view is based on a belief that often the people who live in a community have a far better understanding of local issues and problems and a greater commitment to solve them.
Also, often there is more continuity of interest and commitment in a particular community among people who live there permanently than there is among governments, political parties and bureaucracies which change with greater frequency.
People in business have many skills to offer community groups, such as:
Human resource management
Sometimes these skills are not present in local community groups, especially in the smaller ones.
Often all that is required from business people is short-term involvement with a community group, supporting their efforts to make their good ideas a reality. It may entail keeping a supportive eye on the community group and simply being available from time to time to provide advice. Longer-term involvement may mean a business and a community group working together over an extended period of time on a community project.