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Business Sense

Corporate Social Responsibility: Reflecting America's Values

Over the past year, a confluence of events has prompted many Americans to rethink where they spend their money. Corporate ethics scandals, the economic downturn and heightened awareness of the wide-reaching impact of organizations' actions have increased interest in patronizing socially responsible businesses. In short, today's consumers expect more of businesses than just goods and services. They expect good corporate citizenship.

Of course, as smart business owners have long known, responsible business practices and profitable businesses go hand in hand. Efforts such as employee volunteerism, philanthropy and community outreach boost the bottom line through increased customer loyalty, brand trust and shareholder value. Another important indication of good corporate citizenship is an inclusive workforce. For businesses both large and small, this means a workplace welcoming of the talents and skills of all community members, including those with disabilities.

Social responsibility is one of the key themes highlighted in the Business Case for Hiring People with Disabilities, an online, multi-media resource that illustrates how people with disabilities add value to America's businesses across six key concerns common to all employers. In addition to social responsibility, the Business Case addresses return on investment, human capital, innovation, marketing and diversity.

A workforce that mirrors the communities in which it operates is a top priority for Aetna, Inc., a Hartford, Connecticut-based diversified health care benefits company. "Our corporate culture, our business leadership and our community outreach reflect Aetna's unflagging commitment that Americans with disabilities can work and participate fully in the community," a company representative says. "All of our community outreach efforts reflect our belief that people with disabilities can be active participants in communities, both in and out of work."

In fostering such a culture, Aetna and other companies across the country - of all sizes and in all industries - play an important role in creating a more inclusive America, one where every person is valued for his or her talents and skills.

The Business Case for Hiring People with Disabilities, which includes Frequently Asked Questions on disability employment, is one of many resources available from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to help America's businesses implement policies and programs that foster more inclusive workplaces.

For additional news and resources, sign up for ODEP's e-mail updates.