Objective: The objective of this study was to characterize the extent of the business community's commitment to children, particularly with respect to understanding its role in assuring children's health and development, by conducting a survey of the largest US companies.
Methods: A survey of year 2001 Fortune 1000 companies was performed to determine whether their mission statements, vision statements, or guiding principles include a commitment to children; whether they employ people under the age of 18 years in the United States; whether they encourage their employees to mentor children under the age of 18 years; whether they have an affiliated philanthropic foundation; whether their company's philanthropy focuses specifically on children; and whether they participate in any activities that particularly help disadvantaged children. The survey consisted of 2 mailings followed by phone calls to companies to obtain answers to the questions listed above and answers to additional questions that asked specifically about the company's financial expenditures for parental leave, child care, and healthcare for children of employees and about the company's specific philanthropic giving aimed at helping children. Descriptive information about some of the ways that companies impact the lives of children was also obtained to provide context for the responses.
Results: Data were obtained from 333 year 2001 Fortune 1000 companies (33%) between March 20, 2002 and March 20, 2003, with a good representation of all industry sectors. These data suggest that approximately 33% of the companies that responded have mission statements, vision statements, or guiding principles that specifically include a commitment to children. Employment opportunities for children under the age of 18 years in the United States exist at approximately 41% of these companies. These companies clearly see mentoring as a major theme, with 77% of them encouraging their employees to mentor children under the age of 18 years. Approximately 60% of the companies that responded support affiliated, independent philanthropic foundations, and approximately 55% of companies indicated that they focus their philanthropy specifically (although not exclusively) on children. Approximately 80% of these companies indicated that they participate in at least one activity that helps disadvantaged children. Many companies faced challenges in estimating their overall investments in children, particularly given their large and decentralized nature, but they were able to provide an overall sense of their commitment and they indicated that they could provide quantitative data prospectively if they knew it would be requested.
Conclusion: Many companies that responded play a major role in supporting children's health and development in the United States both directly and indirectly. Further efforts to better quantify the business community's aggregate commitments to improving children's health and development should be sought to allow better estimation of the amount of resources expended and the impact of these investments on children.