Corporate Citizenship Perspectives

Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director

Katherine is executive director of the Center for Corporate Citizenship, Boston College Carroll School of Management, and part-time faculty in the Carroll School of Management. As executive director, she oversees all of the Center's activities and strategic ventures.
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Recent Posts

A strategic approach to public policy engagement

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Jul 3, 2018 9:00:00 AM

21st Century Corporate CitizenshipIn our current climate, companies are being looked to increasingly to take a position on social issues—sometimes to the point of engaging directly in public debate, or even in the political arena. As companies become more active in issues of public policy—from education, to immigration, to human rights—corporate citizenship professionals should be prepared to advise leadership on what issues best align with their companies’ values and business goals. To help firms effectively address questions like navigating the corporate advocacy space, Dave Stangis—Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Sustainability Officer for the Campbell Soup Company—and I released two resources last year.

First, the book 21stCentury Corporate Citizenship: A Practical Guide to Delivering Value to Society and Your Business serves as a how-to guide for the corporate responsibility professionals leading and implementing programs on the ground. We followed up by publishing The Executive’s Guide to 21st Century Corporate Citizenship, which informs more senior managers on the business value of integrating sustainability and social impact into strategy. 

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Topics: Responsible Corporate Leadership, Human Rights, Governance, Education, Policy, Public Relations

Scan, analyze, experiment, and evolve for corporate citizenship success

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Jun 6, 2018 11:50:46 AM

CorporateCitizenIssue24_CoveronTablet“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein

Progress presupposes change. The ability to anticipate change, and thrive through it, is resilience. Corporate citizenship delivers resilience—the capability to prepare for challenges and opportunities in our operating contexts—to deliver the results that we seek for our companies and in our communities. As corporate citizenship leaders, we should cultivate four important behaviors to develop resilience: we should scan, analyze, experiment, and evolve—our programs, our contexts, and ourselves.

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Topics: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Responsible Corporate Leadership, Impact Measurement, Change

Achieving compensation equality in the workplace

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on May 2, 2018 2:32:16 PM

The merits of diverse and inclusive workforces are well-documented. They drive innovation, bolster financial performance, capture new markets, and increase customer loyalty.[1] Fair and equal compensation is the prerequisite of cultivating an inclusive company culture, and is an issue that is receiving attention increasingly from policymakers, corporate leaders, and the popular media.

The negative effects of inequality are felt across our entire economy. As income and wealth become concentrated at the top, fewer can participate fully in the economy. This hampers growth at all levels.  The American Dream, once thought to be a birthright, has proven to be available more readily to children of the educated and affluent than to others.[2] Income equality is a corporate citizenship and economic imperative. Corporate citizenship is not what happens in the corporate citizenship department. Good corporate citizenship is reflected across the operations of the company in how the company exercises as an entity its rights, responsibilities, obligations, and privileges

Research shows that racial and gender income inequality affects every country, industry, and field.  For example, respondents to the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s Profile of the Professionals 2018 study report that women fill most corporate citizenship positions. Their representation drops off, however, in more highly compensated executive positions (see Figure A). Women respondents also reported earning less than their male counterparts, and receiving lower bonuses (See Figure B).

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Topics: Responsible Corporate Leadership, Value of Corporate Citizenship, Inclusion, Workforce, Gender, Race, Glass Ceiling

Environmental insights: Trends in Sustainable Business study

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Apr 3, 2018 10:19:48 AM

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

TrendsInSustainableBusiness-Cover2_smallThe interconnection of issues we address in our corporate citizenship work becomes especially evident in attempts to achieve environmental sustainability. From sourcing, to product development, to waste management, our strategies must accommodate shifting constraints and opportunities presented by our natural environment and other stakeholders.

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Topics: Environmental Sustainability, Responsible Corporate Leadership, Climate, Best Practices, Carbon, water, Recycling, Waste

Maintaining resilience through change: Notes from the field from a CSR leader 

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Mar 6, 2018 4:23:32 PM

21stCentury-Executive&Practicioner.jpgLast year, Dave Stangis—Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Sustainability Officer for the Campbell Soup Company—and I released two books to help corporate citizenship professionals align environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives with business goals to create long-term success. One book, titled The Executive’s Guide to 21st Century Corporate Citizenship, offers a guide for the business executive who is working to build a more ethical, resilient, sustainable, and profitable company. The other—21stCentury Corporate Citizenship: A Practical Guide to Delivering Value to Society and Your Business—serves as a step-by-step handbook for CSR professionals who are developing and implementing effective corporate citizenship programs.

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Topics: Responsible Corporate Leadership, Best Practices, Change, Organizational

Create your own collaborative CSR team

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Feb 6, 2018 10:43:19 AM

Teamwork-Innovation-AdobeStock-85057404-A.png“There’s a way to do it better—find it.” Thomas Edison

Corporate citizenship professionals lead their companies to ‘better’—better workplaces, better communities, even a better planet. Progressing to ‘better’ requires a critical assessment of where we are now, and the courage to adapt, plan, and—ultimately—change our future path.

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Topics: Partnerships, Value of Corporate Citizenship, Integration, Best Practices, Collective Impact, Productivity

Building CSR on optimism in 2018

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Jan 2, 2018 9:30:00 AM

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“Optimism is a force multiplier” ~ Colin Powell

As corporate citizenship professionals, our task is to create the world in which we want to do business and the world in which we want to live. This has never been an easy objective, but recently the challenges facing us have become even more apparent.

The past year has been a time of great change—and for many of us—those changes have at times been difficult to accept. However, while the past 12 months have been tumultuous, they have given me plenty of reasons to maintain, and even increase, my optimism.

2017 may have been full of events, both man-made and natural, that have caused all of us to pause and take stock of what it is that we value—withdrawal from the Paris Accord, exposure of pervasive sexual harassment, natural disasters of immense scale. It was gratifying to see that each of these and many other challenges elicited responses from corporate America as CEOs took action to affirm their companies’ core values.

Throughout the year, corporate leaders have acted decisively to commit to social and environmental progress like never before, advocating for immigration, LGBT rights, and environmental innovation. For example, following the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement—firms rallied to show that We are Still In, and solidified their pledges with strategic efforts—to such a great extent that the UN environmental chief announced recently that the United States will likely live up to the accord due to corporate efforts. Companies rallied around the victims of natural disasters around the globe, and are starting to send a decisive message that the workplace climate for women MUST change. It is these actions that give me cause to be optimistic.

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Topics: Responsible Corporate Leadership, Benefits, Change, Impact, Equity, Shared Value

Participating in #GivingTuesday? Corporate giving may be its own reward, but there are other benefits, too…

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Nov 21, 2017 12:06:43 PM

For the past five years, the first Tuesday following U.S. Thanksgiving has been known as #GivingTuesday, a day set aside to encourage organizations around the world to celebrate and act upon the values of service and giving back.

#GivingTuesday offers a focused opportunity for companies to connect with their employees, community partners, and customers, all in an effort to champion a worthwhile cause. While corporate citizenship is best considered an ongoing and ever-evolving process, Tuesday, November 28, 2017 is noteworthy as it provides an opportunity to appreciate all that can be accomplished when stakeholders collaborate by way of corporate giving. Below are just a few ways strategic corporate giving delivers both business and social value, along with example #GivingTuesday activities from our Center member companies.

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Topics: Philanthropy, Engaging Employees, Giving, Corporate Community Involvement, Value of Corporate Citizenship

Corporate citizenship goals beyond 'better': How to get where you want to go

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Oct 31, 2017 3:15:00 PM

View all resources on the Value of Corporate Citizenship >

“To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill

TabletwithIssue22.jpgWinston Churchill is considered one of the greatest strategic minds in modern history. He not only led Britain through World War II, he played an active role in the passage of the People's Budget—which introduced major social welfare reform programs—established Britain's first minimum wage, and even won the Nobel Prize for

 literature. He understood that continual progress could only be achieved through constant adaptation.

As corporate citizenship professionals, you are tasked with creating both the world in which we want to do business, AND the world in which we want to live. It's a lofty mission, one that requires us to challenge the status quo and innovate to create radical change.

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Topics: Engaging Employees, Corporate Community Involvement, Value of Corporate Citizenship, Strategy, Inclusion, Signature Programs

Drivers of corporate citizenship: Resilience, responsibility, results.

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Oct 2, 2017 11:52:03 AM

International-Corporate-Citizenship-Conference_Vertical.pngA few months ago, I wrote about the importance of operational resilience, and how corporate citizenship can play a role in helping companies survive and thrive. In order to compete and prosper over the long term—companies should do the work ahead of time that allows them to PASS through disruptions. To PASS, in short, is to:

Predict and prepare: Be proactive, not reactive.

Align your program with business strategy: Scan for risks, do what you can to avert them, and have a plan “B”.  

Sponsorship: Enlist groups across and beyond the organization to make sure that everyone knows their role and why it is important. 

Systems thinking: Consider technology systems, business processes, AND all of the people who interact with them.  How can you build flexibility and redundancy in the systems so that if one node in your network is compromised, you can continue to operate?

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Topics: Conference, Impact Measurement, Value of Corporate Citizenship, Disaster Relief, Participation

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The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship is your resource for insights, research, trending topics, and executive education in the corporate citizenship field.

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