Internal partners play key role in bringing corporate citizenship vision to life

Corporate citizenship professionals must approach their work with a vision for tomorrow. The theme of our 2013 International Corporate Citizenship Conference – Designing Opportunity – recognizes that corporate citizenship has the potential to improve company performance and create value. Linking citizenship activities to core business strategy can lead to a more engaged workforce, improved reputation, superior risk management and, ultimately a stronger financial performance.

Realizing the potential of citizenship programs requires an enterprise-wide approach.

In a recent article for Fast Company magazine, “To change a company, you need intrapreneurs”, Jennifer Silberman, vice president of Corporate Responsibility at member company Hilton Worldwide, wrote about how employees across multiple departments can advance citizenship and business objectives. She observed that these “intrapreneurs” work inside a company with a mindset that “helps drive innovation and uncover opportunities within the challenges of operating in a changing world.”

Findings from a survey of executives for the Center’s 2012 State of Corporate Citizenship reveal that both business and social value-creation is accelerated when citizenship programs are integrated with business goals. Executives reporting integration of corporate citizenship and business goals are up to nine times more likely to report success with goals related to company culture and reputation.

In her article Silberman shared how a new product to track the sustainability footprint of Hilton Worldwide’s properties was identified by intrapreneurs. The tool reduced energy, water use, waste and carbon outputs while generating more than $147 million in cost savings. “When intrapreneurship successfully takes hold within a company, the rewards reaped can be endless,” she wrote.

This example is an illustration of a finding of our upcoming Profile of the Professionals report in which respondents rank the ability to influence others, the ability to build relationships, leadership skills, and the ability to work in teams, as the skills most important to their success.

A recent Research Brief from the Center looked at research into the qualities of the key internal champions who are critical to move innovations from an idea to their end stage as a product, process or program[1]. It identifies three attributes of effective champions:

  • Expressing enthusiasm and confidence about the success of the innovation
  • Persisting under adversity
  • Getting the right people involved

Whether they are called “champions” or “intrapreneurs,” these partners can help move your citizenship from vision to realities.

[1] “Champions of product innovations: defining, developing, and validating a measure of champion behavior”, Journal of Business Venturing, 2005, Jane M. Howell and Christopher A. Higgins, University of Western Ontario, and Christine M. Shea, University of New Hampshire