Corporate Engagement in Natural Disaster Response
January 17, 2012
Corporate engagement in natural disaster response has grown significantly in both scale and diversity during the last decade. Today, it is a central component of the international response machinery. Since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, large multinational corporations have become increasingly involved in on-the-ground response efforts, forming partnerships with traditional actors and with each other to enhance operating systems and to develop more rigorous strategic thinking in preparation for disaster assistance. The reasons for the rise in corporate action are multifold but generally stem from an expanded understanding of the roles and responsibilities of business in a fully globalized society. Moving beyond customary standards of corporate social responsibility, in the twenty-first century corporations have embraced an expanded agenda of global citizenship, which is perceived to be at the heart of strong corporate culture, brand reputation, and employee loyalty.
This report addresses the following issues: (1) ongoing efforts to better match corporate supply with humanitarian demands through common convening platforms; (2) the important role of the U.S. government in guiding corporate engagement; (3) the need to transfer corporate skill sets to humanitarian partners through focused staff exchange programs; (4) the case for greater corporate action in the areas of disaster risk reduction and recovery as a means to strengthen consumer markets and product supply chains; and finally, (5) the imperative to localize corporate engagement to the greatest extent possible.