Corporate Citizenship Perspectives

Continuous learning for sustainable progress

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

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

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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...

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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

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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.

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Topics: Business Perspectives, Responsible Corporate Leadership

Managing corporate citizenship through organizational change

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All corporate citizenship work is change management; citizenship programs are designed with the express intent of creating meaningful, positive change in our companies and communities. Citizenship professionals are adept at building the case, marshalling (sometimes scarce) resources, and imagining that there could be better education, safer neighborhoods, and a healthier environment than there is now.

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Topics: Responsible Corporate Leadership, Strategy, Change

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 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:

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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. 

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

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.

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Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Conference, Responsible Corporate Leadership, Investors

Career and Learning in Corporate Citizenship

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Jul 29, 2016 10:00:00 AM

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

TabletWithCover.pngCorporate citizenship is a unique field in that, through its practice, we seek to address an enormous range of issues—from water stewardship to employee wellness to access to education.

Our mission of employing each company’s specific capabilities to provide quantifiable value to both business and society demands much of us as corporate citizenship professionals. To achieve it, each of us must have a thorough understanding of our company’s social and environmental impacts, an awareness of our stakeholders’ needs and interests, a strategy that addresses the issues that are material to our business and which our firm’s capabilities are best suited to tackle, and a way to measure and evaluate our impact.

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Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Executive Education, Responsible Corporate Leadership, Professional Development

Priorities, vision, and back-casting: Keys to CSR strategy

Posted by Stewart Rassier, Director of Executive Education on Jul 25, 2016 11:12:03 AM

iStock_50165150.jpgCorporate citizenship professionals from across the United States and Canada will be traveling to the Boston College campus to attend our Management Intensive and Leadership Academy courses. These groups explore business and management approaches and tools that can be applied to their corporate citizenship, CSR, employee engagement, and sustainability jobs. Each year, one of the most popular questions we field is: "How do you create a corporate citizenship strategy?"

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Topics: Responsible Corporate Leadership, Strategy, Vision, Align, Buy-in

Leading through learning

Posted by Katherine V. Smith, Executive Director on Jul 2, 2015 12:39:00 PM

G7-20150702-Opt2Last month, the leaders of seven of the world’s largest economies came together for the G7 summit, and committed to ending reliance on fossil fuels by 2100. In concert with that goal, they pledged to reduce carbon emissions 40-70 percent below 2010 levels by 2050. While the practical details of how these reductions are to be achieved have yet to be outlined, the commitment is a strong signal of how climate change has risen to the forefront of the global environmental and geopolitical discussions. Now, according to Sir David King, the top climate change diplomat in the United Kingdom, we can expect a climate deal to be reached during November’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

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Topics: Corporate Citizenship, Environment, Responsible Corporate Leadership, Professional Development

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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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