Project Management

Community Contribution: An Organizational Responsibility

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

As part of this month’s theme on social impact project management, I wanted to look at how we can help our organizations become better integrated with our communities. As part of that, I started to research businesses that could be considered role models in that regard. There are some out there, but it was actually very disappointing on the whole. Most seem to view corporate social responsibility or community inclusion as something that can be addressed simply by writing a check. But that doesn’t make you part of your community.

I grew up in a village in southeast England. Our house was in the original part of the village—five streets of row houses (terraced housing in England), built in the 1850s to be homes for workers at a nearby brick and cement works. The community was created by the employer and survives to this day even though the cement works has long been demolished. In some parts of the world, that sort of corporate community development still happens, but it’s rare.

During my childhood, organizations were starting to have a negative impact on communities, largely driven by retail. While I was growing up, the local greengrocer (fruit and vegetable store) and butcher went out of business. They couldn’t compete with large supermarkets growing up on the outskirts of towns that drew people away from community cores. That trend continues…

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"To generalize is to be an idiot."

- William Blake