Today, attendees of the 2018 International Corporate Citizenship Conference came together for dynamic keynotes, deep-diving breakout sessions, and collaborative networking opportunities to share how they leverage responsibility to strengthen resilience and achieve results. Highlights of the day include an on-site volunteer project benefiting children’s hospitals in the LA area, in-depth discussions on the importance of a long-term view, the employee engagement potential of strategic programs, and much more.
Today, 600 CSR professionals traveled to Los Angeles to kick off the 2018 International Corporate Citizenship Conference—an event dedicated to helping CSR professionals strengthen the connections between resilience, responsibility, and results. The afternoon was filled with numerous networking opportunities and an illuminating dinner session—and was capped off by the annual Film Festival award ceremony—setting the stage for two more days of insights and connections.
“Reputation is what people expect us to do next. It is their expectation of the quality and character of the next thing we produce or say or do. We control our actions (even when it feels like we don't) and our actions over time (especially when we think no one is looking) earn our reputation.” – Seth Godin
Predictability is comforting. We like our daily routines, we wear the same jersey or sit in the same seat when our team plays, and we tend to remain loyal to the brands we like and trust. Unforseen events can shake our confidence in corporations, so companies spend a great deal of time preparing for the unexpected to ensure they consistently deliver on their brand promises. However, businesses today face a unique challenge in that most of their value is intangible, which must be protected and advanced in different ways.
In the 1970s, a company’s market value was comprised of 83 percent tangible assets, things like the physical property, products, and machinery that the company owned. Only 17 percent of the market value of a company was made up of intangible assets, like intellectual property, human capital or reputation.[i]
Fast forward to the present day and the proportion has completely inverted. Only 16 percent of a company’s value is comprised of tangible assets, while 84 percent is made up of intangible assets (see Figure A).
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.