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.
Find me on:

Recent Posts

The Executive’s Guide to 21st Century Corporate Citizenship: An Excerpt

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Sep 5, 2017 11:49:16 AM
21stCenturyEXECUTIVE-RGB.jpg

View all resources on Responsible Corporate Leadership >

For more than a year, Dave Stangis—Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Sustainability Officer for the Campbell Soup Company—and I have working together to help corporate citizenship professionals align environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives with business goals to create long-term success. Our first book, released earlier this year, served as a step-by-step handbook for developing and implementing effective corporate citizenship programs.

Now, we’re pleased to share a second book—a guide for the business executive who is working to build a more ethical, resilient, sustainable, and profitable company. Titled The Executive’s Guide to 21st Century Corporate Citizenship, the book provides the information needed to understand how corporate citizenship builds reputation, delivers value to the bottom line, and mobilizes an organization’s employees and customers.

Read More

Topics: Responsible Corporate Leadership, Best Practices, Purpose

Continuous learning for sustainable progress

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Aug 1, 2017 2:41:57 PM

View all resources on Responsible Corporate Leadership >

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein

TabletwithIssue21.jpg

Albert Einstein is lauded for his brilliant intellect, his kindness toward students, his humor, and—most importantly—his boundless imagination. What made Einstein unique was his ability to look beyond the limitations of others to see their capabilities, to laugh at absurdity rather than become depressed by it, and to imagine ways that current constraints could be overcome.

Though 99.99 percent of us will fall at least slightly short of Einstein’s intellect, we can adopt his behaviors and attitudes and make the most of the gifts we do possess. In our day-to-day work we, as corporate citizenship professionals, assess key challenges of our time, and imagine how our companies’ unique capabilities can be used to achieve progress. Increasingly, we will be asked to understand more—about social and environmental issues, our regulatory and political landscapes, the capabilities of our industries, the way we set goals and communicate progress. The list goes on...

Read More

Topics: Responsible Corporate Leadership

21st Century Corporate Citizenship: An Excerpt

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Jul 5, 2017 9:30:55 AM

21stCenturyCorporateCitizenship.pngView all Corporate Citizenship resources >

For more than 30 years, we at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship have worked to provide the resources and tools to help organizations make the most of their corporate citizenship programs.

While we’ve worked hard over the past few decades to deliver valuable research and insights, I—along with many of the leading corporate citizenship professionals with whom the Center has had the privilege of working—have felt that there was a need for a practical guide to take CSR to the next level. Dave Stangis, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Sustainability Officer for the Campbell Soup Company, shared this belief, and offered to co-author a book with me to fill this gap. The result: 21st Century Corporate Citizenship: A Practical Guide to Delivering Value to Society and Your Business. Our intention is to help you align environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives with business goals to create long-term success.

Read More

Topics: Business Perspectives, Responsible Corporate Leadership

The business case for the Paris Agreement

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Jun 5, 2017 12:15:31 PM

ClimateChange.jpgView all resources on Responsible Corporate Leadership >

Since President Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, we have witnessed an unprecedented response from local, state, and corporate actors. In the subsequent 24 hours, dozens of companies—including Disney, General Motors, and Apple—and scores of state and local officials pledged continued commitment to the plan. Bloomberg founder and CEO Michael Bloomberg offered to contribute the $15 million dollars that the United States otherwise would have to the operating budget of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In California, Governor Jerry Brown committed to continue talks with China to connect the country to the state’s cap and trade program, which is already linked to Quebec.

Read More

Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Business Case

21st Century Corporate Citizenship: A Practical Conversation

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on May 3, 2017 10:01:36 AM

Last month, during the 2017 International Corporate Citizenship Conference, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Richard Pearl, vice president and global corporate responsibility officer of State Street Corporation, and Dave Stangis, vice president of corporate responsibility and chief sustainability officer for the Campbell Soup Company, to discuss the book I co-authored with Dave—21st Century Corporate Citizenship: A Practical Guide to Delivering Value to Society and Your Business. Together, we touched on the writing process, the terrific contributions of our colleagues in the Executive Forum, and our expectations for our field’s future. Below you can find a video excerpting a portion of the discussion and a transcript of our complete remarks:

Read More

Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Conference, Communication, 21st Century Corporate Citizenship, Vision, Leadership, Executive

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:

Read More

Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Partnerships, Responsible Corporate Leadership, Value of Corporate Citizenship

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:

Read More

Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Responsible Corporate Leadership, Corporate Social Performance (CSP), Risk, United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)

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. 

Read More

Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Sustainability, Management, Responsible Corporate Leadership, Engagement

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.

Read More

Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Strategy

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. 

Read More

Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Reporting, Communication, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

About Us

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

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts