Corporate Champions redefine civic leadership
Seattle Foundation CEO calls for more corporate civic leadership
May 18, 2017
By Tony Mestres
The Healthy Community Corporate Champions are corporate citizens in the truest sense of the term: companies that exercise their leadership and citizenship as significant contributors to and stewards of their community.
They come from a broad variety of industries, interests and sizes. What they all have in common is that they are leaders, both in their own fields and as civic leaders working to improve our community. And they share Seattle Foundation’s commitment to equity and opportunity, which is critically important to our region’s global competitiveness and quality of life.
These champions represent a maturing wave of corporate citizens, who are increasingly interconnected and collaborative in their role as civic leaders. Each winner has made significant investments in one of eight categories that make up a healthy community: basic needs, economic opportunity, education, environment, vibrant communities, health and wellness, arts and culture and global giving. For all the winners, a combination of investment, support and leadership takes ordinary giving to the next level.
This year’s winners are a rich and impressive cohort across a range of industries. What unites them is the work they’re doing in the community, which is both exciting and effective.
Tableau visualizes data to save lives by using a disease surveillance system to help contain malaria. Holland America cruise ships inspire their passengers to participate in 5K deck walks to raise money in the fight against cancer. No one can match Perkins Coie’s dedication to supporting arts groups and the vibrancy of Seattle’s cultural fabric. BECU dedicates its staff and shuts its doors for a day to teach financial literacy to high school students. Inspirus credit union lives its brand and inspires its members and staff to donate food, school supplies and clothing to local schools, and serves as a transportation hub for homeless students on their way to and from school.
Our very own Tom Douglas and his great company make critical investments in meal programs and food distribution to support our most marginalized local communities. REI connects its values to its citizenship in remarkable ways, with a focus on conserving natural places and supporting its staff in their passion to preserve and protect precious outdoor spaces. Walsh Construction puts its money where its mouth is by donating tiny, heated houses to support unsheltered residents with dignity in homeless encampments
These Corporate Champions have a deep understanding that the health of our regional community is not about checking a citizenship box. They appreciate that the vibrancy of the Seattle region directly correlates to their competitiveness and profitability in many ways. They know that the private sector is a positive force that can change systems and remedy inadequate policies, laws and funding.
They are leading the way to an entirely new wave of corporate citizenship, in which companies become more than givers in their communities. Businesses like these will be the civic leaders working to catalyze solutions to problems and ensure our community is vibrant and strong.
Tony Mestres is President & CEO of Seattle Foundation. This column was originally published in the Puget Sound Business Journal.