Corporate Citizenship Blog

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

Ecosystems create value

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Apr 5, 2017 1:30:13 PM

On Monday, March 27, I had the pleasure of welcoming more than 550 CSR professionals to the Center’s 2017 International Corporate Citizenship Conference, and had the opportunity to share my thoughts on the event’s theme: Corporate Citizenship Ecosystems. Below you can find a video and a transcript excerpting my remarks:

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Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Partnerships, Responsible Corporate Leadership, Value of corporate social responsibility

From survive to thrive: Maintaining resilience to succeed in the long term

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Mar 1, 2017 11:53:17 AM

“…Time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.” ~John F. Kennedy

British Standard, BKVSBlog-TargetLastinImpact-1.pngS65000 (2014) defines "organizational resilience" as "ability of an organization to anticipate, prepare for, and respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper."

Corporate citizenship has a unique role to play in ensuring your company continues to thrive even in difficult times. A well-designed corporate citizenship program is the foundation to being able to weather adverse events. There are four critical practices to help any company PASS through disruptions and continue to thrive:

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Topics: Business Perspectives, Corporate Citizenship, Management Practices, Responsible Corporate Leadership

Leading change across sectors and sects

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Feb 1, 2017 11:45:05 AM

Who matters most: shareholders or the people? Around the world a revolt seems under way. A growing cohort—perhaps a majority—of citizens want corporations to be cuddlier, invest more at home, pay higher taxes and wages and employ more people, and are voting for politicians who say they will make all that happen. Yet according to law and convention in most rich countries, firms are run in the interest of shareholders, who usually want companies to use every legal means to maximize their profits…executives fear that they cannot reconcile these two impulses. Should they fire staff, trim costs and expand abroad—and face the wrath of Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, the disgust of their children, and the risk that they’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes?... Or do they bend to popular opinion and allow profits to fall, inviting the danger that, in the run up to their 2018 annual general meeting, a fund manager…will topple them for underperformance?

Schumpeter, "Six sects of shareholder value," The Economist, January 21, 2017

All corporate citizenship work is about change. Every environmental or social investment made by a company is about using the assets of business to change our operating context for the better. This should be a no-brainer, right? Isn’t any change for the better, well…good? The rhetoric put forth in The Economist’s Schumpeter column earlier this month presents with wry humor a range of six corporate responses to the question it proposes and highlights the conflicts that arise from competing social and economic perspectives. 

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Topics: Business Perspectives, Corporate Citizenship, Management Practices, Responsible Corporate Leadership

The 2017 State of Corporate Citizenship released

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Jan 27, 2017 11:01:28 AM

Since 2003, the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship has examined in the State of Corporate Citizenship study how executives view corporate citizenship and their firms' performance in the environmental, social, and governance dimensions of business. Over the past 14 years, we’ve seen executives come to fully appreciate the vital role that corporate citizenship plays in achieving key business goals.

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Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Research, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, Value of corporate social responsibility

The more things change...

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Jan 3, 2017 8:00:00 AM

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

Investment in a stable and prosperous society is an investment in future business performance. We’ve seen corporate commitment to this ideal in action during the development and ratification of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in the fight for  U.S. marriage equality. More and more, companies are vocalizing their support of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues—and are executing strategic plans to create the change they know is required to achieve a sustainable economy. 

The emerging U.S. policy agenda could make the work even more challenging than it has been for the last decade. Especially if it is in conflict with the policies of global market economies in which your company likely operates. So what is to be done? Cling tightly to your coffee mug that reads, “stay calm and carry on” and do just that. There is overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real and human induced and socio-economic research that underscores the social ills that accompany inequality. The companies that have the courage to be among the first to make real commitments to improving the environmental and social conditions in their operating environments are the ones that have the opportunity to use those commitments as positive differentiators with institutional investors, customers, and the general public. 

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Topics: Business Perspectives, Corporate Citizenship, Sustainability, Reporting, Management Practices, Measurement, Sustainability Reporting, SDGs

Companies Commit to Climate Progress

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Dec 7, 2016 10:02:00 AM

ClimateBlog-20161207.jpgLast month, leaders from around the world gathered in Marrakesh, Morocco to build on the tremendous achievement of the 2015 Paris Agreement during COP22. There, they recommitted to a collaborative target-driven effort to limit climate change. During the conference, 11 countries—including Italy, Japan, Malaysia, and Pakistan—ratified the Paris Agreement, bringing the total number up to 111, far more than the 55 countries covering 55 percent of global GHG emissions required to elevate the accord to international law. The United States, Canada, Mexico, and Germany released strategies for radically cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury. The U.S. report outlines plans to meet an 80 percent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2050, referencing an ambitious transition to a low-carbon energy system and innovative carbon storage and removal tactics.

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Topics: Business Perspectives, Sustainability, GRI/G4, Sustainability Reporting

Reflecting on the season of giving

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Nov 1, 2016 9:41:37 AM

HiRes.jpgThe holiday season is upon us, and with it comes an increased focus on corporate giving initiatives. From localized donations such as food and toy drives to broader efforts like the annual #GivingTuesday campaign, companies are ramping up their corporate giving programs.  As our calendar year comes to an end and many are moving into new budget cycles this spring, it is a good time to assess your giving strategy and make sure it is designed to maximize both social and business value. All giving is good AND you can increase the effectiveness of your company’s giving program by employing the resources and capabilities unique to you, addressing the causes most relevant to your business operating context, and mobilizing your employees. If you activate your program on all three of these fronts, you will make an impact that continues well beyond the holidays.

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Topics: Business Perspectives, Workplace Giving, Employee Engagement, communications, corporate giving

Corporate Citizenship Career Path: Executive Forum

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Oct 24, 2016 3:41:16 PM

The following is excerpted from Issue 17 of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how you can develop the strategies and skills that will prepare you to lead your teams and colleagues to a new level, consider applying for our Leadership Academy, which will be help on campus at Boston College November 14-18.

For more than six years, the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship has benefited from the guidance and expertise of its Executive Forum. This unique network brings together senior-level professionals from a wide range of industries to provide corporate citizenship leadership, inspiration, and knowledge, and influence the public discourse of the role of business in society. Here, a sampling of Forum members share their journeys to corporate citizenship leadership, as well as what they’ve learned along the way.

Career_Path_group_Summer_2016.png
Executive Forum at the 2016 International Corporate Citizenship Conference

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Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Executive Education

2017 Conference: Corporate Citizenship Ecosystems

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Oct 4, 2016 9:00:00 AM

In the more than three decades since the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship was founded, so much in our field has changed. Corporate citizenship has gone from a sideline effort of a few well-meaning companies to a strategic business imperative deemed vital by the majority of executives. Why has this shift occurred? Because business leaders have come to recognize that corporate citizenship delivers business AND social value—and that both of these are crucial to achieving sustainable growth.

In the last three decades, the role of a corporate citizenship professional has evolved.  While many still operate in small teams, you have become experts at drawing on the ideas and information, expertise, effort, and financial support of your internal and external partners to advance your businesses, your communities, and our world.

2017Conference-20160926_KVS-blog.jpg

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Topics: Business Perspectives, Corporate Citizenship, CSR, Conference, Responsible Corporate Leadership

Corporate Citizenship Career Path: Executive Forum

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Sep 21, 2016 8:00:00 AM

The following is excerpted from Issue 17 of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how you can develop the strategies and skills that will prepare you to lead your teams and colleagues to a new level, consider applying for our Leadership Academy, which will be help on campus at Boston College November 14-18. Also, check back for further insights from our Executive Forum in future Career Path installments.

For more than six years, the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship has benefited from the guidance and expertise of its Executive Forum. This unique network brings together senior-level professionals from a wide range of industries to provide corporate citizenship leadership, inspiration, and knowledge, and influence the public discourse of the role of business in society. Here, a sampling of Forum members share their journeys to corporate citizenship leadership, as well as what they’ve learned along the way.

Career_Path_group_Summer_2016.png
Executive Forum at the 2016 International Corporate Citizenship Conference

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Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Executive Education

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Welcome to the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship blog, we are your resource for corporate citizenship insights, research, trending topics and executive education. Our blog is a place to exchange ideas and learn about corporate citizenship.

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