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Business Leaders Launch Global Network for Excellence in Corporate Citizenship

Submitted by: Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship

Categories: Business Ethics

Posted: Feb 26, 2006 – 11:00 PM EST

 

Membership open to companies striving to achieve excellence by aligning corporate citizenship to business strategy and long-term value

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - A new international consortium of global businesses, lead by IBM and nine other world-class companies, is being created to define excellence in corporate citizenship and help companies manage related challenges, identify trade-offs, and balance countervailing pressures. Known as the Global Leadership Network, its objective is to improve citizenship performance and demonstrate the important role the corporate sector can play in improving economic, social, and environmental conditions in the world.

Founding member IBM along with General Electric, FedEx, Cargill, Diageo, Omron, Manpower, CEMEX, 3M and General Motors were instrumental in the creation and design of the project. They are now extending membership to other companies interested in building corporate citizenship into core business strategy. The network was formed in 2003 when IBM sought expert research assistance from The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College and AccountAbility to assess how powerful global companies define excellence in corporate citizenship. Under the direction of the two international research centers, the network has:

  • created a framework for corporate citizenship performance excellence
  • defined the essential characteristics for performance excellence in corporate citizenship
  • identified best practices and created a proprietary web-based database
  • developed a simple, comparative scorecard to assess progress
  • produced a web-based self assessment and planning tool

    The framework helps a company define its strategic position on corporate citizenship through a process of consultation that helps align business and citizenship goals. "Joining this global network will help companies manage their broader accountabilities to ensure that they minimize the risks they impose on stakeholders and that they maximize the opportunities they generate for stakeholders," said Simon Zadek, CEO of AccountAbility.

    According to the project research team, corporate citizenship currently focuses more on stakeholder expectations, through often unaligned programs such as philanthropy, environmental management, standards and codes, and social reports, and less on the process of strategic alignment and execution. Instead, the GLN framework encourages a company to determine excellence in corporate citizenship from a proactive business perspective.

    "Many citizenship systems appear to impose practices on companies with the hope that a mix of carrots and sticks will encourage businesses not only to comply with standards but to be happy about doing it," said Steven Rochlin, director of research and policy for The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College.

    The research reveals four critical performance elements that determine corporate citizenship excellence:

  • Integration of corporate citizenship into business strategy. Excellent performers identify the significant relationship between core strategic goals, core values, key performance metrics and drivers, and societal expectations for corporate citizenship.
  • Commitment to engage and learn from stakeholders. Most companies pursue stakeholder engagement from a defensive, risk management posture. Excellent companies view stakeholders as a critical constituency that defines the citizenship agenda, drives learning, and provides feedback which can lead to innovation around business processes and products.
  • Commitment to lead. Excellent corporate citizenship performers seek to be the best in the areas of strategic alignment they define as most important. Core to this aim is the effort to engage and influence others to enhance their performance as citizens.
  • Formation of supportive corporate citizenship systems and processes that constitute operational excellence. Leaders reinforce strategic alignment by designing appropriate measures, incentives, training, and operating systems that encourage excellent and aligned sustainability performance.

    GLN will be jointly managed by The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College and AccountAbility. Benefits to companies include:

  • Understanding gaps in corporate citizenship strategy
  • Aligning corporate citizenship with core business strategy
  • Responding to societal expectations that allow for learning and value creation for the business and stakeholders
  • Discovering how other companies are managing these issues through a database of case studies
  • Create leadership opportunities

    Companies joining the network choose from a multi-tiered membership with annual fees beginning at $7,500. The basic tier provides companies with access to the on-line planning and assessment tool and automated reporting system, best practice database and access to peers within other companies. For additional fees companies will receive other services such as personalized assistance and have access to special convenings and peer-to-peer learning opportunities.

    "The Global Leadership Network allows IBM to do significantly better in the corporate citizenship area," said IBM Vice President Stanley S. Litow, chair of the GLN steering committee. "It will allow us to use the kind of web-based analytics we use in other elements of our work and enable us to engage all the requisite players at IBM."

  • For more information, please contact:

    Peggy Connolly The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College
    Phone: 617-522-0722

    For more from this organization:

    Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship

     

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