It is inspiring to see corporate leaders standing up for human service needs.
At a recent annual shareholders’ meeting, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz spoke of the ever-increasing gap between federal and state funding and the need for social services:
“We are going to see cuts in social services that we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. The gap between haves and the have-nots is going to get wider and wider,” said Schultz.1
What I like about Mr. Schultz’s comments is that he doesn’t shy away from the reality that fewer dollars mean fewer services for people in need. In fact, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 30 states have projected FY 2013 budget shortfalls totaling $49 billion.2
As funding gets tighter or disappears altogether, nonprofits like CASA for Children are feeling the pinch. How will we narrow the gap? We all know that corporations cannot bear the full financial burden of making up for government funding cutbacks. But they can step up and do their part.
I also like the fact that a corporate CEO is willing to speak up for people in need. And Shultz is not alone in this. Jewelers for Children—made up of leaders in the jewelry industry—has supported children’s causes since its founding in 1999. In fact, support from the jewelry industry has helped over 5,000 foster children.
For the life of me, I cannot imagine that supporting children is resulting in more coffee or jewelry sales. There must be a true citizenship motive going on in the efforts of these organizations. Their dollars help, but it is their voices that inspire.
The children we serve need this type of leadership. And they need it now.
As Howard Schultz stated, “Business and financial success is best when it’s shared.”3 I challenge corporate leaders to share their success and stand up for our children by providing:
- Corporate support to help fill the financial gaps
- Business expertise to help improve and extend effectiveness
- Clear messages telling kids they are highly valued
Young people are more than future consumers. They are more than kids in need. They carry within them the talent and the potential to change the world. And some of them, at least, are our future corporate CEOs.
1Melissa Allison, “Starbucks’ Corporate Message” Seattle Times, March 22, 2012
2Elizabeth McNichol. Phil Oliff, and Nicholas Johnson, States Continue to Feel Recession’s Impact, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Washington D.C., updated March 21, 2012
3Howard Schultz, Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders, March 21, 2012, webcast March 21, 2012, http://investor.starbucks.com/phoenix.zhtml?p=irol-eventDetails&c=99518&eventID=4687629, accessed April 9, 2012