A word from the president: Good corporate citizenship requires sustainable business practices

By: Margie Brown, CIRI president and CEO

CIRI and its employees have a well-deserved reputation for supporting a wide variety of nonprofit and social service organizations that improve the quality of life for Alaska Natives and other community members. Toward this end, one of my jobs and privileges as CIRI’s president and chief executive officer is to represent the company and its shareholders at events that support and celebrate community service organizations and projects. During the first week of August alone I spoke on behalf of CIRI at the grand opening of Cook Inlet Housing Authority’s Eklutna Estates senior housing project, co-hosted a fundraiser for the Alaska Native Heritage Center and hosted CIRI’s annual golf tournament that raised money for the United Way of Anchorage education programs, Anchorage Schools Foundation and the Alaska Center for the Environment’s Trailside Discovery Camp.

At these events and elsewhere I often hear community leaders and others compliment CIRI as an outstanding corporate citizen because of its charitable activities and the volunteerism of CIRI staff. This praise for CIRI, of course, fills me with pride for our company. However, it is based on a very narrow view of citizenship.

Charity and volunteerism are part of being a good corporate citizen, but many other factors including profitability, business ethics and fair trade practices, corporate governance, efforts to protect the environment and political activities should be included in the calculation that rates the quality of corporate citizenship.

Good business practices and profitability are keys to sustaining corporate citizenship because no company can contribute to its local economy thorough wages, dividends, taxes and other spending (including charitable donations) if it is insolvent. It concerns me that capitalism and the profit motive have fallen out of favor in the American dialog and are increasingly viewed with suspicion. I think it serves the public’s best interest when corporations invest in projects that earn fair profits by filling market (public) needs. The profit motive is an incentive that encourages private investment, which supports jobs, economic development and other community benefits.

In pursuing profits reputable companies develop projects responsibly so that others do not have to bear the cost of environmental harm. They treat employees, business partners, customers and others fairly and respectfully so that these stakeholders continue to work and do business with the firm. And finally, responsible corporate citizens support nonprofit and charitable projects and organizations that benefit their communities.

After considering all of these factors, I remain proud of CIRI because it rates high on the corporate citizenship scale. CIRI’s business practices aim to benefit its shareholders and the rest of the community for generations to come. It develops profitable projects such as Tikahtnu Commons in east Anchorage that is benefiting the entire region by creating new shopping, entertainment and business opportunities, jobs, tax revenues, etc. CIRI works hard to treat its employees, business partners, customers and others fairly and respectfully to maintain and grow its business relationships into the future.

CIRI is developing responsible projects, from a green office building at its 11000 C Street project in south Anchorage to an environmentally responsible underground coal gasification development that will include carbon management on the west side of Cook Inlet and a renewable wind energy development on Fire Island, near Anchorage. And, of course, CIRI strongly supports a wide range of nonprofit organizations and projects that benefit Alaska Native and other community needs.