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Friday, September 11, 2009

Isn’t the Healthcare debate a CR issue too?

The healthcare debate is raging. The nation hasn’t been quiet about it – not the people, the hospitals, insurers or doctors. In fact, many of us viewed this week as the President addressed Congress and urged for healthcare reform. But one group has been quiet. The absence of comment on the healthcare debate within our Corporate Responsibility community is notable.

Look at a typical corporate responsibility issues list and it potentially includes environment, climate, poverty, ethics, economic disparity, diversity, education and employee wellbeing. Many companies will include healthcare in developing countries in their corporate responsibility scope.

Surely our own nation’s healthcare debate has all the characteristics these typical corporate responsibility issues share;

o Community/civil society impact
o Significant interaction with employee wellbeing and productivity for employers in all sectors
o Significant cost impact for most employers
o Short term cost, long term outcomes
o Direct and indirect product impact, both positive and negative, for many sectors
o Ethical dilemmas

So what has precluded that debate from happening?

I think two things 1) the significant core business impact on the companies in some business sectors and 2) that the debate has become politicized. Politicization makes it hard to take positions from a CR professional basis lest it be seen to be taking a political side in the debate too.

I am interested in how we can structure a space for debate on this and other future 'hot potato' issues within the community of CR professionals. That space needs to be able to include practitioners of companies whose core business is directly impacted by the issue as well as those indirectly impacted.

To reach that point we need to have a stronger foundation for what it means to be a CR practitioner and the boundaries and principles guiding the role. That would allow us to discuss and present views based on a common set of professional principles that I would suggest is not currently in place.

1 comment:

  1. Corporate involvement in health care is an accident of legislation. Fundamentally, I think it ought to be the obligation of the individual to manage this for themselves and their families; choosing appropriate levels of insurance (or none at all) that meet their own risk/value equation from a truly free (not what we have at present) market of competing providers.