The economic benefits of social responsibility

Authors: John Heller , Bonnie Carroll

Editor’s note: The following column was published in the Summer 2019 issue of Service Contractor, a publication of the Professional Services Council.

By John Heller

John Heller CEO of PAEAs business leaders in corporate America, many of us were schooled in the Nobel prize-winning economic principles of Milton Friedman—business’s sole duty is to make profits. 

Milton believed that profitable business contributes to society through job creation, which leads to the economic benefit of raising the standard of living. Therefore, corporations had no social responsibility to the public, only to its shareholders. In their private capacity, those shareholders would in turn exercise social responsibility. 

While capitalism and free market advocacy remain the bedrock of our industry, social economics has evolved Friedman’s definition of shareholders to stakeholders—customers, suppliers, employees and the communities they serve. 

Our industry leaders of tomorrow are learning the value of corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR improves employee engagement, customer loyalty and brand reputation, which in turn positively impacts long-term financial performance. 

At PAE, we recognize both the financial and social impact of creating opportunities for the communities we serve—that includes active military, veterans, their families and military connected communities. As CEO, I believe being a good corporate steward is good business. 

As a PSC executive committee member, I encourage all PSC members to allocate a significant portion of your philanthropic spend to support the military community as you plan your 2020 budgets. Doing so is an investment that’s good for business. 

PSC executive committee member John Heller is an Army veteran and CEO of PAE. He serves on American University’s advisory council for the Kogod School of Business, and the University of Pittsburgh’s chancellor’s Global Advisory Council and on the Business Alumni Association board of directors for the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration.

By Bonnie Carroll

Bonnie Carroll, TAPS President and FounderAs President and Founder of TAPS, I completely agree with John. When my husband, Brigadier General Tom Carroll, and seven other soldiers were killed in an Army plane crash in 1992, there was no national organization caring for all those grieving the death of a military loved one. Recognizing the gap in services and the needs of surviving military families, I founded TAPS to fill that void in services and provide comfort to those who, like me, were grieving a death while honoring a hero. Today, TAPS is the leading national nonprofit organization providing critical services and 24/7 emotional support to bereaved military families, including the families of contractors who died serving in support of our military. 

As a surviving spouse, Air Force veteran and former staffer in the Reagan and Bush White Houses, I know personally and professionally the sacrifices military members and their families make on behalf of our country. 

The government services industry is the corporate neighbor of military-connected communities. When corporations make a philanthropic commitment to support military and veteran service organizations and actively seek to hire veterans and their family members, they are making right on our shared promise to care for all those who voluntarily sacrifice for our freedom and defense. 

On behalf of the 85,000 military survivors who TAPS has supported over 25 years, I call on the PSC membership to lead by example—hire veterans and their family members and whenever possible, give your time and resources to the communities that support them. 

Bonnie Carroll is the president and founder of TAPS and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. An Air Force veteran and former staffer in the Reagan and Bush White Houses, Bonnie founded TAPS following the death of her husband in an Army C-12 plane crash on November 12, 1992.