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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.KM