Why Corporate Social Responsibility?
JetBlue airlines helps show why corporate social responsibility is so important, and gives a great example of how it works for specific populations. One segment of society JetBlue focuses on is veterans. Men and women returning from the military face obstacles to reentering society. Many are traumatized by their experiences. Even those who are not traumatized face a lot of confusion. When veterans leave the military, they lose a sense of belonging. The bonds forged in the military are strong. The group values help shape and give purpose to individual servicemembers. For many of them, losing that connection is like losing a part of themselves. JetBlue actively hires veterans, and it also provides a yearlong mentoring program for them.
In the mentoring program, a veteran already employed with JetBlue works with a new, incoming employee who has recently separated from the military. Mentors provide a vital function by guiding the veterans to where they want to be and what they want to do in the company. The connection with a mentor helps increase the sense of belonging that so many veterans need.
Challenges to Air Travel
Although JetBlue works hard to make a difference for veterans, they are not the only population JetBlue serves. The company also helps individuals with autism learn about and prepare for travel. These families need practice with the air travel experience. People with autism can be affected by anything that is outside of their normal routine. JetBlue’s Horizons program lets families come in and participate in realistic air travel simulations. This venture is a partnership with Autism Speaks, another social enterprise that provides resources and advocacy for families affected by autism. Parents benefit from seeing and anticipating the challenges they and their children will face while traveling. This partnership shows why corporate social responsibility is so popular—it can forge unlikely connections and impact a variety of populations.
Adding it All Up
So, to recap: Why corporate social responsibility? Why does it matter, and why do we put so much time and effort into collecting and describing examples of it? The answer is simple: corporate social responsibility enables companies to impact lives in a positive way. The practice of CSR opens up possibilities that otherwise might not have existed, both for companies and for the populations who benefit from them.
Brandon De La Cruz, a crew member and Army veteran, talks about his experience with VetConnect, a year-long mentor program that matches Vets with crewmembers, and how he found a sense of belonging – once again – at JetBlue.
JetBlue’s Blue Horizon program provided families in the autism community the opportunity to walk through a realistic airport simulation to better prepare them for future travel.