The primary focus of the 2017 International Corporate Citizenship Conference was ecosystems, so fittingly the final day of the event was full of making meaningful connections and expanding awareness of the entire system in which CSR professionals do their important work. In learning from experts both on the mainstage and in the audience, participants broadened their knowledge of their operating context and looked ahead to next year’s Conference—with convening sponsor Travelers—which was introduced during the event’s closing session.
The second morning of the 2017 International Corporate Citizenship Conference was packed with inspiring stories, rich breakout sessions, and spirited networking, culminating in a lunch session hosted by New Balance Athletics, Inc. Subsequently, attendees took advantage of a second set of breakout sessions, featuring an Analog Devices case study that focused on choosing and engaging with nonprofit STEM partners. There was also a deep dive on how to create sustainability and social impact goals that are shared across an entire company. During this session, Smith and Stangis, co-authors of the book: “21st Century Corporate Citizenship,” discussed real-life examples and shared tools and frameworks that attendees could use to make corporate citizenship goals meaningful to everyone in the company.
The morning of the first full day of the 2017 International Corporate Citizenship Conference dove into the internal and external partnerships that make it possible to create a better world. Attendees explored these networks through general sessions, breakout panels, case studies, workshops, and numerous networking opportunities, including an on-site volunteer project.
To achieve business and social value, CSR practitioners must draw on the diverse resources and support offered through their corporate citizenship ecosystems. Today, 550 of those professionals joined us in Boston to expand their ecosystems, all while learning to navigate them more effectively.
In Good Company
The 2017 International Corporate Citizenship Conference is a 2.5 day event created to facilitate thoughtful sharing and collaboration. Because the event is open to CSR practitioners only, attendees are afforded a unique opportunity to ask difficult questions, share challenges, and hold frank discussions.
Today, the 2017 International Corporate Citizenship Conference will kick off in Boston. Uniquely tailored to corporate citizenship professionals, this sold-out event will bring together industry experts and more than 550 CSR practitioners from around the world to network, learn, and grow.
This year, the Conference is sponsored by State Street, a company with more than 200 years of experience in advancing stable and prosperous communities, and is being held in Boston. This two-and-a-half-day event will be packed with information and guidance from top leaders in the field. Attendees will walk away prepared navigate their corporate citizenship ecosystems more effectively, enabling them to drive the continued success and prosperity of their firms and to maximize our collective efforts to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Here are just a few things we’re excited about exploring in Boston:
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.
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.
“I have been struck again and again by how important measurement is to improving the human condition.”—Bill Gates
When done right, corporate citizenship is a serious investment of money, resources, and time. To ensure that your CSR programs continue to receive the funding and attention they deserve, you must be able to demonstrate—to your leaders, your partners, and broader stakeholders—the return on that investment, or the ROI. What do your efforts offer the business? How do they advance the missions of your nonprofit partners? How are they benefiting your employees, customers, and shareholders?
Just a few weeks ago, the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship held our annual International Corporate Citizenship Conference. More than 500 CSR experts joined us in Atlanta for nearly three days of insights, information, and sharing.
The final day of the 2016 International Corporate Citizenship Conference was rich with inspiration and ideas, as attendees solidified connections, learned from each other and from experts in the field, and were introduced to next year’s Conference sponsor—State Street—during the event’s closing session.