June 04, 2014– On May 19-21, 250 leaders in corporate philanthropy and social responsibility convened in New York City for CECP’s signature event – the Giving Officer Summit. I had the opportunity to attend the summit along with SVCF’s President & CEO Dr. Emmett Carson. The summit provided dynamic and relevant content, many opportunities to connect with colleagues in the field and a chance to hear from leaders in business, philanthropy and social change. Several themes emerged throughout the conference including:
Practitioners of corporate responsibility (CR) are increasingly seeing their role as one of risk mitigation. Operating social impact programs that are authentic, engaging and built into the core business can provide the company with a degree of resiliency and insulation from challenges from external or internal stakeholders.
It is common for practitioners to feel like they are constantly in competition with other internal departments for resources or attention. This sentiment is completely understandable as they are usually managing complex programs with extremely lean staffing and budget uncertainty. However, during a panel on CEO engagement, Carly Fiorina impressed upon the audience that CR practitioners are in the “leverage”, not “internal competition” business.Their efforts help to amplify and accelerate the goals of business lines across the company, not compete with them. She urged the audience to reset their outlook after taking that perspective into account.
Employee engagement continues to be a critical driver of CR efforts. At CECP’s Board of the Boards event, CEOs cited employees as the most critical stakeholder when deciding to expand the company’s investment in community programs. Practitioners also consider employees a key stakeholder and seek to keep them engaged and feeling “sticky” about the company through programs such as matching gifts, nonprofit board matching and social sabbaticals.
A new discussion that emerged was the identification that the private sector can better lend its expertise to develop integrated change management strategies when working in areas such as the Common Core State Standards and climate change, helping to mitigate public skepticism and pushback on widespread changes effecting diverse stakeholders.
Many of the sessions brokered new relationships among attendees and sparked conversations which will continue long after the conference. Thank you to CECP for inviting SVCF to attend.