Marking its 125th year of operation, Johnson & Johnson has just launched a new corporate social responsibility plan called Healthy Future 2015. Though in some respects it falls a bit short of the radical new CSR concept recently espoused by Levi Strauss, Healthy Future reaffirms the company’ original 1943 Credo, which was fairly radical in its own day and age. At a time when the planet was engulfed in World War II and American manufacturers were pulling out all the stops to churn out products for the military as well as domestic use, Johnson & Johnson was already setting goals for a postwar world that would require careful stewardship both inside and out of the factory gates.
The 1943 Credo
The original, still operative, credo was personally crafted by a Johnson founding family member in 1943. In somewhat pedestrian terms it spells out the company’s responsibility to run its business fairly and competently (and profitably), but it also foreshadows John Anderson’s vision for companies that are fully engaged in community well being. The Credo states, “We are responsible to the communities in which we live and work and to the world community as well…We must encourage civic improvements and better health and education…We must maintain in good order the property we are privileged to use, protecting the environment and natural resources.”
Our Credo and the Murdoch Scandals
News of alleged corruption and illegal activity in Rupert Murdoch’s media companies has been dominating the headlines these days, which makes one line of the Credo stand out in particular: “We must be good citizens – support good works and charities and bear our fair share of taxes.”
Healthy Future 2015
You can trace the legacy of Our Credo in Johnson & Johnson’s new Healthy Future goals – some of which, of course, dovetail with the company’s future profitability. These include launching new health initiatives, improving employee well being, developing more sustainable products and processes, developing partnerships with like-minded suppliers, and promoting programs that make its products more available to more communities. Healthy Future 2015 also includes goal-setting and strategy components, and the company’s Healthy Planet 2010 program previously spelled its environmental mission out in detail.
A Radical New Credo
Johnson & Johnson officials credit Our Credo with helping Healthy Planet 2010 focus on workable sustainability actions while avoiding greenwashing. This kind of respect for the company’s historical corporate culture could make all the difference in making Healthy Future an effective agent for change rather than just a collection of web pages.