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5 Reasons Addressing ACEs is Good Corporate Social Responsibility


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is all the rage. The Kellogg School of Management, Harvard Business Review, and McKinsey and Company have all written about the advantages of CSR. While CSR can potentially increase a company’s profit over time, CSR is best demonstrated with dramatic improvement in the lives of employees who have suffered from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) dramatically improve. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines ACEs as “all types of abuse, neglect, and other potentially traumatic experiences that occur to people under the age of 18.” Research shows a direct correlation between ACEs and “risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, low life potential, and early death.” In other words, issues that directly impact corporations! Based on the Kellogg article, here are five reasons addressing ACEs is good CSR:

1. The Benefits are Obvious

Shareholders demand corporate leaders provide a return on investment. CSR “sends a signal to investors about the overall health and financial performance of the company.” By understanding ACEs, which are experienced by at least 64% of the population, corporations signal that what is most important to the company is the overall familial, physical and mental health of its employees.

2. Understanding Pays Off

Research shows companies who pursue CSR programs often do better than companies that do not. However, companies can also profit by pursuing solutions to ACEs. The Sycamore Institute found Tennessee companies incurred an estimated loss in 2017 of “$5.2 billion in direct medical costs and lost productivity from employees missing work.”

3. Engaging the Community Helps Everyone

Not every company can implement CSR on its own; they need partners. Similarly, companies don’t have to address ACEs alone. Resources are becoming widely available for how communities can become trauma-informed. Partnering with others leverages a company’s ability to help employees.

4. You Can Sense the Difference

Consumers know when a company’s motives are authentic and when they are being sold a bill of goods. People want to support companies who give back to the community because they genuinely appreciate the community. Implementing work-place polices that help build stronger families and help employees deal with lingering trauma demonstrate an authentic and genuine demeanor.

5. Inconsistency Will Undermine Your Values

According to Shannon Schuyler, “You’ve got to stand for something, and you have to make sure that your behaviors and your values guide you through the decision-making process.” People continually search for ethical and servant leaders. Demonstrating to employees, investors, partners, and customers a commitment to ending ACEs reinforces that behaviors and values are aligned in serving others.

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Thanks for speaking up/out! I checked out your website and it looks like you've been busy working on public policy as well as shining a light on the intersection between ACEs and the substance use AND the workplace - very interesting! 

Your blog about being interviewed lays out useful strategies for engaging with the media while staying on course regarding your core message(s). Your linkage with workplace disruptions could use a lot more focus!  I love this:

“My mission is to bring attention to the challenges too many people face as a result of childhood trauma. This trauma, often referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences, has a direct tie to the opioid epidemic and disruptions in the workplace.”

I look forward to learning more about the intersection between ACEs and workplace disruptions - including when leaders with ACEs unknowingly use a management style that is not trauma informed. 

Jane Stevens (ACEs Connection staff) posted:

Thanks for posting this, Christopher. Are you integrating ACEs science into your organization?


I retired from the FBI a month ago. I now spend my time talking about ACEs and how kids experiencing trauma often intersect with the juvenile justice system. I also am working to find connections to corporate America where I can talk about how unresolved ACEs often manifest themselves in the workplace. This blog is my start in that direction.

Depending on my audience, I do incorporate ACE science into the presentation. Sometimes it's robust; other times it's the highlights. However, it's the connection to juvenile justice that is my main focus.

More of what I'm doing can be found at my website:


Last edited by Christopher Freeze
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