The Magazine of Corporate Responsibility

How To Lead in Corporate Citizenship

Skyscraper- arrowGood corporate citizenship is wonderful in theory but oftentimes very difficult to implement.  That’s especially true in large organizations where thousands of people – including customers, employees, suppliers and investors – have stakes in the outcome.

Two new reports from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship examine what’s needed in implementing and maintaining effective corporate citizen leadership.  They also put forth “unique competency models” for those working in the corporate citizenship field.

“It’s not surprising,” the Center says, that a survey it conducted last year found that while 66 percent of U.S. executives say corporate citizenship is a priority for their company, only 33 percent report they have succeeded in integrating corporate citizenship into management policies and processes.

“Just as corporations are expected to step up their game in contributing to society and minimizing negative impacts, the leaders in these fields are expected to be more and do more for their companies” the Center notes. “Leading corporate citizenship today requires a high degree of confidence, maturity and passion, as well as a strategic mind and collaborative personality.”

The first thing one needs when leading a corporate citizenship program is a definition of the job.   Here, according to the Boston College researchers, is what’s involved.

Key responsibilities of the corporate citizenship leader:

  1. Becoming the company’s expert on social issues, and the changing expectations of external stakeholders
  2. Building strong trusting relationships with key external stakeholders (such as community groups, NGOs, policy makers, media, etc.)
  3. Identifying risks and opportunities for the business based on stakeholder expectations and designing proactive mitigation and response strategies
  4. Designing and implementing the company’s corporate citizenship strategies
  5. Building consensus among senior leadership across the company to adopt new corporate citizenship policies and programs
  6. Building trusting internal relationships and becoming the central point of contact and resident expert on decisions regarding social and environmental issues and impact on company stakeholders
  7. Embedding corporate citizenship practices into all operations across organizational boundaries
  8. Measuring and communicating corporate citizenship initiatives and activities related to the company’s corporate citizenship goals and performance

The full reports - Leadership Competencies for Corporate Citizenship and Leadership Competencies for Community Involvement – are available on the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship web site.   Registration may be required.

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