Many businesses rely on the Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC) for resources around corporate social responsibility. A program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, BCLC helps businesses improve the impact of their efforts to positively address societal challenges.
Since 2000, BCLC’s 'Citizens' Awards have spotlighted successful and replicable models of positive business impact on people, communities, and the environment.
“The 2012 Citizens Awards winners represent the true spirit of business and what it can do to empower society,” said U.S. Chamber BCLC Founder and Executive Director Stephen Jordan. “In every case, their corporate citizenship shows the exceptional ability of business to innovate, solve problems, and help people realize their potential.”
We spoke with BCLC's Communications Director Catherine (Kitty) Keller about the highlights of the latest award ceremony.
Q1: What’s unique about the Corporate Citizenship Awards?
- Peer Reviewed: Since the beginning of the awards, business leaders who represent past winners have served on winner selection committees.
- Legacy of Leadership: In 2003, the year the Best Corporate Steward category launched, three national leaders joined with BCLC to create the award: 34th Secretary of Commerce Donald L. Evans, author and scholar Michael Novak, and Harvard Business Professor Michael Porter.
- People’s Choice: BCLC created the Best Partnership Award in 2006 to raise awareness about business-nonprofit collaborations that work. The category is subject to public voting to select the winner, making it one of the first “people’s choice” corporate citizenship recognitions. Well over 100,000 votes have been cast by the public.
Q2: What are the hallmark characteristics of companies considered for these awards?
Businesses address a clear need or issue; show strategic planning in how it tackles the need or issue, including alignment with its core capabilities; execute its plan in a way that makes a positive difference; and exhibit proof of that difference being made.
Q3: How do these types of companies stand out from the pack?
It’s so rewarding to see how great corporate citizenship is an extension of a company’s best assets – its people and its products, services, or knowledge. The companies that stand out don’t treat corporate citizenship as a siloed department or something that they do to “check the box,” for example during the holiday season. For the best corporate citizens, it’s a way of doing business and a way of existing in our society. You can literally feel how positive business impact comes to life when you learn these companies’ stories.
Q4: Any favorite anecdotes from the Citizens 2012?
We really loved partnering with Carolyn Malachi and the Taratibu Youth Association this year, to blend music for a cause and business for good at our awards dinner on December 6. Another great moment took place that night – Ann Cramer, from IBM, who is well known and loved in business, received our first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award for Corporate Citizenship. When our founder and executive director, Stephen Jordan, announced this award at the microphone, the entire room gave Ann a standing ovation! The impact she’s had on our field and its professionals was definitely felt that night.
Image credit: BCLC