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:
Corporate 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?"
Even the best laid out plans have their challenges. During a recent conversation, a local member company mentioned that they even felt their corporate citizenship strategy was frozen in place. They had been making progress, but things just seemed to slow down once the snow set in. They wanted to know: How do other companies thaw out their corporate citizenship strategy each year? How do they keep it from getting frozen in the first place? For answers, I turned to members of the Center’s Professional Services Sustainability Roundtable and Community Involvement Roundtable. The Center has more than 400 companies representing 21 industries and a large range of company sizes, but the advice these corporate leaders gave regarding strategy was extremely consistent.
The way we approach corporate citizenship issues determines whether they will be challenges for our organizations, or whether they will be opportunities. A winning approach requires the cultivation of a clear vision, and the strategic setting of goals to achieve it. Without them, our corporate citizenship efforts will remain tied fast to their anchors, or drift aimlessly on the sea.
“There are those who see, those who see when shown, and those who cannot see.”
Much like DaVinci, professionals working in corporate citizenship must be able to see well beyond the possibilities in plain sight today. It is that kind of vision that inspired our 2013 International Corporate Citizenship Conference theme of Designing Opportunity. Leading companies today envision how their corporate citizenship efforts could benefit the business and society in exciting new ways just as DaVinci created so many things for a new world.
Vision for what is possible will fuel the continued evolution of corporate citizenship and its further integration in business. Moving corporate citizenship to the core of how business is conducted will allow companies to generate innovations that provide solutions to social problems that align with firm capabilities and values.
To fully leverage these opportunities requires hard work. The work is not only in the design phase, it is in the execution also. Getting those “who need to be shown” on board and compelling those “who cannot see” requires strategy, finesse, optimism, and unflagging persistence – attributes and skills that are reinforced and advanced in our professional community.
The 2013 International Corporate Citizenship Conference kicked off in Boston with an opening reception hosted by UPS and buzzing with energy. Lynnette McIntire, UPS Director of Corporate Reputation Management and Jerald Barnes, Global Region/Districts Grant Manager of the UPS Foundation, welcomed everyone to the conference. McIntire encouraged first-time attendees especially to embrace the network building that takes place and to share their experiences with the challenges they all face in “a very safe place, a very honest place.”