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Collected Insights Offer a Strategic Roadmap for Companies as They Respond to New Global Challenges

A new compendium of data and research guides stronger, more responsive relationship between companies and stakeholders

Collected Insights Offer a Strategic Roadmap for Companies as They Respond to New Global Challenges

A new compendium of data and research guides stronger, more responsive relationship between companies and stakeholders

Published 07-04-17

Submitted by CECP

Further reinforcing trends seen over the last six months, CECP: The CEO Force for Good has drawn together its current research base to develop a series of insights designed to help guide companies as they shape their social strategies, which have gained new global importance given the unique role they are suited to play in this time of sociopolitical uncertainty. Per live polling conducted at the 2017 Board of Boards60% of CEOs feel equipped or well equipped to meet expectations in the current business and sociopolitical environment, and 66% recognize the role their companies play in long-term societal improvement. This new compendium of data and insights, Investing in Society, highlights corporate best practice and innovation, drawn from CECP’s coalition of leading global companies.

Developed from CECP’s original research; findings from the 2017 Giving in Numbers Survey, conducted in association with The Conference Board; and hundreds of monthly discussions with more than 200 of the world’s largest companies, conversations with leading experts, and on-the-ground practitioners, Investing in Society delves into what actions companies are taking to identify and effectively meet stakeholder needs, and how a unified approach across all business units supports the effort. According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, 75% of the general population believe that companies can take actions to improve economic and social conditions in their communities, so now, more than ever, business will be expected to stand firm in their commitments.

“CECP’s view is that the world’s leading corporations have emerged as a steadying presence and remain uniquely qualified to continue to drive progress, in spite of unpredictable global circumstances,” said Daryl Brewster, CEO, CECP. “Investing in Society serves as both inspirational and practical as companies seek to strengthen their societal investments and impacts.”

Key Trends Identified in Investing in Society:

  • Purpose Driven: Leading companies have recognized that purpose is the path to energizing and reaching vital stakeholders, for more resilient markets and society. When asked about purpose at their companies, 64% of CECP CEOs say that “purpose is a powerful motivator.” Companies that have tapped into purpose as inspiration for their workforce are seeing the rewards: 58% of companies with a clearly articulated and widely understood purpose see financial growth of more than 10%, and 85% of purpose-led companies increased revenue between 2013 and 2016.

  • Long-Term Thinking: Appreciation for steadiness is spreading from Main Street to Wall Street as well. Top CEOs are taking a more balanced approach with long-term setting the context for short-term by prioritizing company health and value-creation for all stakeholders, not just shareholders demanding robust quarterly returns. With positive results accompanying this shift, leading asset owners are calling for more. A growing body of research demonstrates that the current market focus on short-term performance can adversely affect a company's ability to generate sustained value over the long-term. To help accelerate this movement, on September 19, 2017CECP will host the second CEO Investor Forum (CIF), featuring leading CEOs presenting their company’s long-term strategic plans—including operational and financial outlooks ranging three to five years or more--to an audience of 200 long-term oriented institutional investors and pension funds, collectively representing $25 trillion in assets under management.

  • Employee Engagement 2.0: Trailblazers are also refining and focusing their work to create unique value for employees based on the business’ skills and passions, and each employee’s distinct needs and values. This translates into a more diverse set of volunteer programs or volunteer programs that are increasingly flexible to diverse employee passions to make room for employees to live their passions through work. CECP data reveals that corporate programs that allowed some level of work flexibility when engaging in volunteer opportunities were the most offered programs in 2016, with 61% of companies offering paid-time release and 60% offering flexible scheduling. Worth noting is a 5% increase between 2014 and 2016 in the number of companies offering flexible schedules for volunteering.

  • Leveraging Assets: Corporate societal investments have spread across the company, becoming more deeply integrated with strategy, and implemented by more business units, based on a strong business case. Consistent across companies that are staying the course and making the greatest impact is a unified approach to social strategy. CECP’s report, in partnership with USAA, What Counts: The S in ESG, explores how the private sector is innovating and using additional, multi-departmental, socially-driven efforts to create greater social impact. A second report, Investing with Purpose, reviewed several case studies from large companies that are investing capital with socially and/or environmentally driven intentions, particularly those outside the financial industry.

  • Global Challenges, Global Collaboration: No company can operate in isolation; all borders are blurred given supply chains and stakeholders. And all companies and countries need to work together to solve the global challenges at hand. In 2016, CECP’s Global Exchange continued its work alongside like-minded organizations in Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa to connect companies with collaborative opportunities to increase their global impact in solving the world’s most pressing problems, based on those regions’ unique needs and cultures.

  • Advocacy as Strategy: Despite global unrest, businesses are committed to their corporate societal investments, and seeking collaborative solutions on the most challenging ones. Data from the 2017 Giving in Numbers Survey show that, despite an uncertain sociopolitical environment, companies remain committed with increasing societal investments: median total giving increased in 2016. Interestingly, when polled at the 2017 Board of Boards, only 17% of CECP CEOs said that speaking publicly, in their own voice, was an effective practice for sustainable business leadership. However, simply because CEOs are not taking center stage when it comes to advocacy, it doesn’t mean companies are staying silent: Another poll from CECP found that 61% of companies are sticking to their public advocacy strategy, with more than 20% advancing their strategy in response to public reaction to corporate leaders’ stance on social issues.

Since 2001, the Giving in Numbers Survey has collected data on corporate social strategy programs globally to provide professionals with the benchmarking and reporting tools necessary for making data-driven decisions about their company’s social strategy. With the release of Investing in Society, CECP’s industry-leading research and data, as well as select reports from industry peers, will now be synthesized in a single presentation available to the public, with an even deeper dive supported by facts and figures available to affiliated companies.

CECP: The CEO Force for Good:

CECP is a CEO-led coalition that believes that a company’s social strategy—how it engages with key stakeholders including employees, communities, customers, and investors—determines company success. Founded in 1999 by actor and philanthropist Paul Newman to create a better world through business, CECP has grown to a movement of more than 200 of the world’s largest companies that represent $7 trillion in revenues, $18.6 billion in societal investment, 13 million employees, and $15 trillion in assets under management. CECP helps companies transform their social strategy by providing customized connections and networking, counsel and support, benchmarking and trends, and awareness building and recognition.




The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) is the only international forum of business leaders focused on increasing the level and quality of corporate philanthropy. Membership includes more than 180 global CEOs and chairpersons of companies that collectively account for more than 40% of reported corporate giving in the United States. Membership is by invitation and is renewed annually.

CECP provides member companies with peer-to-peer executive convenings, premier networking events for corporate giving industry professionals, cutting-edge research publications, a proprietary, on-demand benchmarking system of corporate philanthropy data, and exclusive media opportunities.

Founded in 1999 by actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, together with John Whitehead, Peter Malkin, and other business leaders, CECP continues to inspire and challenge leaders in the private sector to find innovative ways to fulfill unmet social needs and to lead the way towards better alignment of business and social strategies.

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