2009 CEO Conference
Global Leaders: Confronting a Crucial DecisionDemonstrating that corporate philanthropy is a business priority even in a strained economic climate, 55 CEOs from many of the world’s largest companies convened on International Corporate Philanthropy Day, February 23, 2009, for CECP’s fourth annual Board of Boards conference to discuss the theme: “Global Leaders: Confronting a Crucial Decision.”
Panelists Jeffrey Immelt of GE and Carlos Ghosn of Nissan engaged attendees in a dialogue, moderated by NBC’s Tom Brokaw, on the importance of corporate-community investment today. Key findings include:
- Elevate and Prioritize the Social Contract. Corporate leaders recognize the interdependency between business and society, and the pressing need to regain public trust. 82% of attendees indicated that philanthropy can help restore trust in the business sector, signaling their belief that corporate giving can support a regenerative cycle in distressed communities.
- Refocus on Core Strategies. Attending CEOs stated that in the current economic climate, aligning philanthropy with company values, practices and goals is imperative. Conversely, philanthropy conducted in isolation from the rest of the business will fail to deliver optimal social and business benefits.
- Initiate an Inclusive Dialogue. 80% of participating CEOs consider their employees and customers to be the most important constituencies when crafting giving strategy. However, factors such as government support of threatened industries, stimulus packages, and intensifying public scrutiny are swiftly expanding the number and size of stakeholder groups.
- Leverage Resources Creatively. The duration and severity of the economic downturn have eclipsed even the worst commonly-held predictions of a year ago. While this will likely have a downward effect on cash contributions, CEOs expressed their will to fill funding gaps to the greatest extent possible.