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Are you a young entrepreneur working in social good? You should consider applying to Hitachi's Yoshiyama Entrepreneur Award. The company bolsters the work of young businesspeople addressing poverty through business.
The 2012 Yoshiyama Awardees are an impressive bunch. From managing a company that helps 'welfare-to-work' individuals in Florida, to creating opportunities for self-employment in Chicago's food deserts, these young entrepreneurs are helping lift their communities out of poverty. I have no doubt this year's group will be any less amazing.
It's a commendable corporate responsibility strategy, as Hitachi wins when the community wins.
Image via http://pinterest.com/pin/331155378819675690/
By Kate Olsen
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending The US Chamber of Commerce’s Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC) 2012 Corporate Citizenship Awar..., known as “The Citizens”. The nominees were narrowed down to 4 or 5 companies for each of 4 categories (winners in bold below). What struck me about the pool of nominees and their programs, was that most companies were being recognized for programs that align with their core business capabilities. It’s heartening to see the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR) evolving to a point were corporate savvy and philanthropic dollars go hand in hand to address social issues while building business. CSR is coming for age!
Take GM for example. The company spent the past 5 years turbocharging its recycling program through the GM ‘Saving Green by Thinking Green’ program and learned just how much sustainable practices can reduce waste, enhance productivity and efficiency, and improve quality. In 2011, GM recycled or reused more than 2.6 million metric tons of waste materials in plants worldwide, avoiding 10 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. That’s smart business.
Or Google. Google’s ‘Get Your Business Online’ program helps small businesses get a free website, domain and Web hosting, as well as the expertise businesses need to build a good Web presence. Google is ensuring that small businesses don’t get left behind with advancing technology and helping grow its search, advertising and other business lines. That’s ‘good’ business.
Or Capital One. Capital One’s ‘Investing for Good’ program targets community investments in four areas: affordable housing, education, small business and workforce development, and financial literacy. While the market for community development loans decrease 45% during the recession, Capital One’s increased 270%, proving that responsible lending, paired with guidance and oversight can create opportunity even in tough economic times. Through the initiative, Capital One not only helps communities in need, but also builds its own loan portfolio and customer base. That’s responsible business.
These are but a few snapshots of innovative and generous projects making a difference for communities and businesses alike. If you want to read more about the 2012 Citizens nominees and winners, check out the BCLC website.
Best Corporate Steward
- Capital One Financial Corporation*
- IBM Corporation
- UnitedHealth Group
Best Business Neighbor
- The Dow Chemical Company
- General Motors Company
- Google Inc.*
- National Football League
Best International Ambassador
- Alcoa Foundation
- Qualcomm Inc.
Best Partnership (People’s Choice Award)
- Caterpillar and First Response Team of America
- Hilton Worldwide and Global Soap Project
- Intel Corporation and World Vision
- General Mills, Merck & Co., Inc. and CARE
- WellPoint and Boys and Girls Club of America
*Network for Good Partner
Photo Credit: Capital One Financial Corporation
By Kate Olsen
The 2012 Net Impact Conference took place last Friday and Saturday in Baltimore, MD. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) professionals, MBA students and conscious business folks of all stripes converged to discuss the latest in corporate impact, sustainability, social innovation and much more.
A major theme that pervaded many of the sessions I attended was that there is no cookie-cutter approach to corporate responsibility and social impact. Instead, it is incumbent upon every organization to internalize CSR values, and create strategies and programs that make sense contextually. That process requires innovation (usually through pilot programs for proof of concept) and thorough execution (including feedback loops to continually improve programs).
As Tod Arbogast, VP of Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility at Avon Products, Inc., put it, CSR practitioners have a fundamental role in driving change within an organization, helping everyone in the company see the value of CSR impact and sustainability, and how that value relates to their particular function.
How can CSR practitioners do that? Through building trust and alliances from within, and involving multiple internal stakeholders in the evolution of the CSR strategy. That process is inherently about translating company CSR priorities and creating the right mix of programs for that company - not what some industry trend report says is important. Bottom line: make it your own!
Here is a great example of making it your own: I learned from Marilee McInnis, Senior Manager at Southwest Airlines, that the company's employee intranet is a blog to encourage conversation among employees about Southwest culture and impact. This type of employee engagement works very well for a brand such as Southwest that prides itself on being somewhat anti-establishment, but may not work so well in a more traditional corporate culture. Putting the right CSR priorities in line with the right platforms and tools ensures a proper fit with your company's employees (or consumers).
Likewise, Beth Shiroishi, VP of Sustainability and Philanthropy at AT&T, affirmed that the success of AT&T's new employee impact program 'Do One Thing' (for you, your company or your community) had a lot to do with how her team socialized the idea across the company. First, her team piloted the program in different workspaces (retail store vs. headquarter office vs. equipment garage) to ensure the program translated well for different employees. Next, her team created ways for employee groups to customize program messages and materials to their context. Finally, her team took feedback from around the company and used it to tweak the program to remain relevant at all levels. In the end, AT&T created a program that is uniquely suited to the company's culture and priorities.
As several companies demonstrated, CSR is more an evolution than a revolution. If these professionals have their way, in 10 years there will be no such thing as a CSR officer, because the responsibility to drive impact will have been incorporated into every function of the company. That vision seems much more attainable when you see examples of companies such as Southwest Airlines, Avon Products and AT&T truly making CSR their own - one stakeholder at a time.
Conference logo via: http://responsiblebusiness.haas.berkeley.edu/image
This past Monday, The Hitachi Foundation held their third annual Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs awards ceremony. While I was sad to miss the event, I’m excited to cover the resulting inspiration. These awards honored five innovative entrepreneurs whose businesses align company profits with company cause. The honorees are creative and resourceful—taking their communities’ seemingly intractable problems and offering tangible solutions.
The video is a must-watch. While it’s eight minutes long, it’s definitely worth it. If you’re into inspiring problem solving—especially in the corporate social responsibility world—watch it now.
When explaining that the narrative of business and society operating in silos is a common one, Barbara Dyer, the President and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation, says these young leaders provide a new paradigm:
“American capitalism is a story of ongoing tension between two seemingly contradictory ideas: business as the pursuit of profit and business as a means to secure a better society. These entrepreneurs show us that we need not make a choice between purpose and profit, and that business innovation in the social realm is abundant.”
This is true. Companies with cause embedded in their mission perform better in a number of ways—ROI, employee engagement, consumer trust—than their counterparts that look to profit for profit’s sake. Plus, consumers and employees embrace purposeful companies. Edelman’s goodpurpose study shows that consumers are increasingly opting for cause-affiliated brands.
Shane Gring was one of the Yoshiyama awardees. His Denver-based company, Bould (clever name), gives professionals interested in learning how to build green buildings the opportunity to work on green Habitat for Humanity builds. He notes his decision to tie cause with his brand was essential, because people are ready for purposeful companies. “People are primed for change. We’ve gotta stop divorcing purpose with profit.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Congratulations to the awardees, their winning ideas, and the communities they’re affecting.
Follow the Yoshiyama Program on Twitter at @YoshiProgram.
By Kate Olsen
Jessica Mason, Communications and Public Affairs at YouTube, wants to take back the videosphere from the cats. Yes, those LOLCats are cute, but video storytelling is a dynamic tool for cause marketers and Jessica wants to see you flood the airwaves with powerful videos about your cause not your cat. Let’s rise up as responsible corporate citizens and take over water cooler and social media chatter for ‘good’!
All kidding aside, the plethora of speakers at this year’s Mashable Social Good Summit all echoed common themes of connectivity, conversation and storytelling.
Here are the three lessons shared at the start of Monday’s program:
1) Have bigger conversations that include global voices and new perspectives.
2) Remember people are agents of change, not social media platforms. The technology is the tool, but the message comes from us.
3) We have much to learn from each other.
Here is a sampling of how these lessons and the common themes were translated by a diverse group of speakers:
- Journalist and Co-Author of Half the Sky Nicholas Kristof asserted the relevance of multi-media storytelling across print, TV, digital games and social networks to empower women and girls in developing countries.
- Scott Heiferman, Co-Founder and CEO of Meetup, told attendees to "be the connector” because if you can connect people, you can help curate timely, relevant conversation about solutions to social challenges.
- Actress and ONE Campaign spokesperson America Ferrera espoused the power of sharing knowledge and information – not charity – with the poor in developing countries such as Hondouras, where she visited a USAID-sponsored Feed the Future project with ONE.
What does this mean for you?
Whether you are a brand manager adding a cause element to your marketing mix or an HR professional charged with motivating employee participation in CSR programs, the message is the same: lead with your story. People crave connectivity and to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Through cause communications, you have an opportunity to frame a call to action that rallies people to join your campaign. The key is to humanize that call to action through story.
Here’s how –Answer these questions:
- Why should the person care? Make it about the person listening to your story, not your brand or your fabulous CSR program.
- How can the person take action? Show how an individual can get involved and how his or her action will result in change or social good.
- How can the person help shape your campaign? Offer ways for an individual to make suggestions or have a conversation with you about the change you are co-creating. This can be through voting, forums, dedicated hashtags etc…
- How can the person spread the word? Build social sharing and prompts to spread the word into the campaign experience. The power of social networks only manifests if sharing is ubiquitous.
Image via http://www.exedes.com/saw.jpg
Is your company a social enterprise? The answer is yes if your organization’s “primary purpose is good,” says the Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA).
With consumers preferring cause-aligned products and services, do gooder Millennials influencing 88% of household apparel purchases, and employees seeking work at companies that do good, social enterprises—commonly referred to as the “missing middle”—are on the rise.
If your company is a social enterprise, or tilts in the direction of doing good (you’re reading this blog, after all!), you should definitely check out your local Social Enterprise Summit.
SEA (full disclosure: our CEO is a member of the Board) hosts the annual event—gathering hundreds of participants to hear experts and share best practices. At these summits, you’ll find plenary sessions such as Using the Power of Social Enterprise to Combat Chronic Unemployment, workshops addressing profits for nonprofits, and breakout sessions around social media for social good.
You don’t have to be a SEA member to attend, but members do receive a nice discount.
Western Summit | September 13-14 – Los Angeles, CA
Mid-Atlantic Summit | September 24 – Baltimore, MD
Southeastern Summit | October 29-30 – St. Petersburg, FL
Last week, the Ethical Corporation hosted its Responsible Business Summit USA in New York City. I was fortunate enough to attend, due to my enthusiastic tweets (shameless plug: @CaliMcG) about the event. Lesson learned: the possibilities are endless on the Twitterverse.
Ethical Corporation packed the house with representatives of huge corporations, innovative thinkers, and, like me, cause-marketing aficionados. I thought you might enjoy reading my favorite quotes, and insights gleaned.
“The best [business-related] thinking happened during the recession.” - Kyle Peterson, Managing Director, FSG
How could that be? During the recession, businesses were laying off employees left and right, and making hard choices, in an attempt to slash spending and cut costs. I was intrigued.
Peterson continued, “Tough economic times forced businesses to think deeply about their role in society, and thus the idea of shared value was created.” While I won’t wade too deeply in the shared value debate, I will posit that when examining your corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy, ensure it aligns directly with your business objectives and your view of where you fit in the community. To do any less would be a disservice to you and your CSR goals.
“Businesses, when acting like businesses, make more substantial changes than when acting as philanthropists.” – Kathy Pickus, Divisional Vice President of Global Citizenship and Policy, Abbott
I couldn’t agree more. Inauthentic cause marketing is easy to spot, and companies may even see vociferous backlash from ill-prepared campaigns. When businesses think long and hard about CSR strategies as a business interest—not just a “feel good” initiative—they make better decisions. P&G’s ‘Thank You, Mom’ campaign is a great example of sliding business thinking into the cause marketing arena.
“There’s a false choice between doing well and doing good.” – Mark Newton, VP of Corporate Responsibility, Timberland
Truth. Timberland understands this concept more than most, and is leading the way in sustainable thinking. In fact, the company has figured out how to sell shoes, use sustainable and recyclable materials, and be cool. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to share this video—put on your headphones and watch it. Now.
“Employees are our ambassadors.” – Carol Clark, Global VP Beer and Better World, Anheuser-Busch InBev
Yes! Since I began working at Network for Good, I’ve heard this adage over and over. At first I thought it was just a catchphrase, until I saw the hard data on employee engagement. Your employees are already engaged online and off; when they feel valued and appreciated, they will return the favor in myriad ways. Whether it be recruiting new talent or maintaining a presence as a leading brand, engaged employees strengthen your company; improve office moral; and beef up your bottom line.
“We made our corporate responsibility report more snackable.” – Suzanne Fallender, Director of CSR Strategy & Communications, Intel
Well said. Fallender’s observation that consumers and employees are bombarded with thick reports reminds me of my work on Capitol Hill. Congressional staffers, like many human beings, don’t have time to 1) read or 2) care about lengthy reports and metrics. Instead, they prefer bites of knowledge—statistics, anecdotes, fresh information—that is timely and relevant. By reducing the size of information released, Intel keeps consumers and employees interested; leaving them wanting more.
Which of these quotations resonates most with you? If you attended the conference, please add your favorite quotations in the comments section!
Are you attending the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Chicago next week? Let me know! I’ll be attending and would love to connect. Feel free to reach out via Twitter (@Kate4Good) or send me an email.
I’ll be presenting at two sessions (see below) and be sure to check out Kevin Bacon at the Opening Plenary (3-4:30 PM CDT). He’ll be sharing his story about starting SixDegrees.org, his charitable initiative in partnership with Network for Good. You can also watch is TEDx Midwest talk at www.SixDegrees.org.
- Monday 1:00-2:30 PM CDT “Do Users Really Generate Content? Tips & Tools for Building Engaged Online Communities” (Session #2697, Room W475 B McCormick Place West, Twitter #NCVSUGC)
- Wednesday 8:00-10:00 AM CDT “Business Track Solution Center - Steps to Effective Corporate Engagement in Times of Disaster” (Session #2931, Room W476 McCormick Place, Twitter #NCVS2931)
I’ll be sure to follow up on all the highlights and takaways for employee engagement and cause marketing on this blog next week. Stay tuned…
This week, I’ve been attending the US Chamber of Commerce’s Business Civic Leadership Center conference in Atlanta, GA. Below are a few gems and insights from selected panelists to inspire your thinking on corporate responsibility. You can follow the conversation on twitter under the hashtags #BCLCinUS or #BCLConCSR.
Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation
There is a terrific opportunity for cross-sector collaboration, but you need more than a big idea. You need to articulate roles and outline how to grow to scale. Now is the time to be fearless and intentional in pursuing social change.
Michelle Nunn, CEO of the Points of Light Institute
We’ve never had more educated, skilled, super-empowered citizens to create viral and scaled change. There is tremendous opportunity to catalyze social good, but we still face challenges: constrained resources, confusion across sectors to understand roles in collaboration/cooperation. The private sector can play on organizing role in bringing the right resources together.
Mark Mohler, CEO of Sprigster
Start business planning by asking what is broken? What social compromises have we been blindly accepting that we have the power to affect? And then build your business around solving that challenge. Start with the problem and then create the right business model to fix it.
Grady Lee, COO of RockCorps
Brand conversations are happening with consumers, but also with employees. Employee engagement is an asset that can be leveraged internally and externally to drive business goals and create social impact.
Carol Cone, Global Practice Chair of Edelman Business + Social Purpose
Today's trust is built by operational excellence, but tomorrow’s trust is earned on social purpose. Social purpose is a long-term commitment, but it starts with culture (being more human). Start with a socially innovative product, make a commitment to it, publically support it, motivate employees, and then communicate efforts and results. Most companies fall down on the communications piece, but it is vital to share the commitment to social purpose with consumers and employees. The future of purpose is a radically transparent global world of 24/7 communications where the citizen consumer is in control.