Boston College Center's Tim Wilson wraps up the final day of the International Corporate Citizenship Conference
By Tim Wilson, Editor and Writer, Boston College Center
While Day 2 featured the CSR story of Hershey's, Microsoft's philanthropic journey and the latest research from Ernst & Young, the final day of the 2012 International Corporate Citizenship Conference featured positive change. That is, how companies and employees can together make an impact.
Attendees learned about the importance of being able to innovate and change in a world where the rules of communication and image are being rewritten at light speed daily.
In the opening session, Trisa Thompson, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility for Dell, spoke on how Dell is using innovation to connect CSR with employees. A former lawyer, Thompson began by asking for a show of hands from attendees on why they chose to work in the field of CSR. "It's almost always a combination of passion and luck," she said, adding, "Why is that important? Because passion and luck drive innovation and change,” Thompson said. “Everyone here is doing that.”
Thompson identified three trends in corporate citizenship in relationship to Dell:
- Sustainable software that helps make everything else more sustainable
- Partnerships through which companies seek to extend their impact and make a difference, rather than keeping the focus on brand
- Social media that democratizes the work being done by NGOs and companies
It's a New World for Business: Havas Global CEO David Jones
In an illuminating presentation, David Jones, Global CEO of Havas and author of Who Cares Wins: Why Good Business is Better Business, then took attendees through a journey of advertising strategies and how corporate citizenship had increasingly started to come to the forefront.
Pointing to the global economic crisis sparked by a pursuit of profit for profit’s sake, Jones suggested that if business doesn’t change its behavior there will be another crisis. With a difference, however.
In an age where people are empowered through digital and social technology like never before to hold business leaders accountable, Jones cautioned that this new crisis would be far more damaging for businesses who remained remiss of their social and environmental activities.
This new “radical transparency” is making what was once private, public, he said, adding “If you behave in the wrong way today, you’ll get found out."
The Millennial Pressure: Transparency and Empowerment
Millennials are big drivers in this new world, Jones said.
They have different standards and are experts at using technology that gives individuals the ability to create mass movements. Jones identified a number of ways that, as a result of this evolution/revolution, business is changing and needs to change. Social responsibility, or social irresponsibility, drives social media, he contended, adding: “Social media has taken CSR out of the silo and put it in the P&L statement."
The Power of Peer Collaboration: Attendees Voice off
Sandwiched between the pair of excellent speakers were almost two-dozen breakout sessions and workshops where attendees gathered insights from leading practitioners.
“I love hearing from those large companies about something that means something to them or what impacted them,” commented Christy Reeves from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana.
“Especially when they’re companies that I see as a real leader,” she added. “We’re guiding our programs toward what they do.”
Some of the presenting companies included Wells Fargo on successful partnerships and a Suncor Lead and Learn session on bringing together two corporate citizenship programs after a merger.
“It has exceeded my expectations. I have been very impressed with every workshop,” said Garry Walters of Southwest Gas, attending his first conference. Walters found one breakout session particularly helpful: Adding Value to Community and Company Through Volunteerism with Altria, UPS Foundation and Ernst & Young. “It gave me some ideas on how you can get senior management to get more involved with our volunteer efforts,” he noted.
While the week in Arizona has come to a close -- the conference heads to Boston next year -- the learning doesn't have to stop. These peer collaboration and roundtable exercise push us to transition from learners to enablers. This transition must continue.
For continued reference points, best practices and tips in your journey, check out the Center's blog. If you don’t already receive the Center blog, click here to subscribe and get the latest news. Connect with us on Twitter at #BCConf12 and watch out for much more expanded post-conference reports as well as a special Conference Edition of our e-newsletter with information on how to find more conference content.
From Popgun to Metrics: CSR According to Microsoft, Hershey's and Ernst & Young