Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Corporate Wellness and Social Responsibility: Should there be a connection?

Warning:  This is my opinion. I suspect some of you won't like it. But,  I really do want your feedback as this is a topic that fascinates me.

Corporate Social Responsibility is quickly becoming the "hot" business topic.  Let me back up.  Even though CSR is now an issue critical to the sustainability of any corporation, many people are still unfamiliar with the term.  Unfortunately, I can't give you a universally accepted definition, but I can at least provide some guidance with help from good ol' Wiki:

"Corporate Social Responsibility is commonly described by its promoters as aligning a company's activities with the social, economic and environmental expectations of its "stakeholders.""

I could spend the better part of a decade posting links about the topic, but instead, I want to focus on an issue I brought up about a week ago. In this post I discussed how Volkswagen is requiring some of its employees to take part in a mandatory fitness program.  

I'm a fitness freak, so I am biased, but it seems to me that people ought to be weary of companies that don't have fitness standards for their employees.  Isn't it in everyone's best interest for each of us to be in better shape?  Companies that don't have standards and programs in place for their employees to improve their health can't be considered socially responsible--to their employees or any of us.

My Dad (I love him, but damn, he can be hard-headed.--That's where I must get it.) has told me for years that one of the most important aspects to living is to be a contributor to society and not "suck" off the "system."

One of the easiest ways to become less of a burden on society is to consume less--to be more fit. I know this sounds anti-American, but we are gluttons. Let's face it. We are accustomed to having way more than we actually need.  Of course, businesses also prosper from our over-indulgence, which makes me wonder how corporate social responsibility is anything but "window dressing."

Anyway, rant over. Working out will make you feel better. Healthier employees should make companies happier and more productive. It is in our best interest and everyone else's to take better care of our bodies.  Besides, how can we promote corporate social responsibility if we can't even take care of ourselves?

Here are a couple of links to the corporate wellness arena:

I would love to get your thoughts on all of this. Specifically, 
1.) Do we, as US residents, have a moral obligation to each other to be in better shape? 
2.) Do companies have a moral obligation to encourage employees to live healthier lives? 
3.)Should fitness standards be discussed within the realm of Corporate Social Responsibility?

Any feedback is welcome. Thank-you for reading.


  1. I know most of you are just trying to get a job and aren't too concerned with CSR, but this concept is only gaining steam. When choosing a company, this might be something to consider...

  2. An interesting video that is somewhat related:

  3. In as much as companies have a moral obligation to contribute to an employee's health care, I would argue that they do indeed have an obligation to provide employees incentives to live healthier lives. The latter, of course, can save the company expenses regarding the former, which nicely falls in line with their financial and moral obligations to their shareholders.

  4. Provide incentives? Yes. Mandate requirements? No. No company has a right to require I participate in a fitness program, I am happy and fairly fit with the lifestyle I currently lead. I think that the comment, "We are accustomed to having way more than we actually need." is more indicative of material/product waste than food waste. Companies that can streamline their waster (recycle, compost, go paperless, ect.) are going to be less of a burden on society. I feel that this is more important than the being fit and more of a corporation's responsibility than the fitness of their individual employees. Wellness is important and incentives should be given to employees to encourage healthy and active lives. However, I believe that there is so much more to waste managment and CSR than fitness and food consumption.

  5. Anna-- I totally agree with your last sentence. I just have a passion for fitness so I brought that issue up.

    Thank-you for your input!