Creating a Map for Your Corporate Citizenship Journey

Corporate Citizenship is often described as a “journey,” but how many of us really have a map. Are we travelers on someone else’s path; blazing new trails; and/or just preparing for the next storm? As corporate citizenship practitioners we must continuously be more deliberate and intentional in everything we do. Our role isn’t just to create programs, it is to steer and align assets to have the greatest business and social impact. How do we create a map to not only guide our journey, but more importantly, to bring the rest of our company along with us? Here are a few steps to get started:

Articulate your destination. When on a journey, it should be clear where we want to end up. However, because the corporate citizenship experience is less charted, this is easier said than done. Thus, way before setting goals and establishing KPIs, it is essential to clearly articulate the “purpose” of the expedition. We must rally people behind the “why.” Why is this journey worth taking, and what impact can we have. Purpose connects corporate citizenship with core business strategy. For instance:

eBay’s purpose is “to pioneer communities built on commerce, sustained by trust, and inspired by opportunity.” If the company has a corporate purpose statement, use it as a compass to put your work into context. If the company doesn’t have a statement, look to the brand promise, culture, values, and unique business expertise to craft and articulate an aspirational citizenship vision.

Map the entire landscape. Too often we spend our time toiling deep in the forest. Without a path, it is easy to get lost or distracted. When we find a big tree, we think it is a priority; when we discover a baby sapling, we claim innovation and proclaim the future. It is time to get a better view and map the whole picture. Stop, literally take out a big piece of white paper, and create a map of everything corporate citizenship-related at the company. Spend time reading business plans, asking questions, and getting invited to meetings you’ve never heard of. This may also include digging into corporate citizenship reports to get snapshots, photographs if you will, at points in time on the journey. Make time to learn from external stakeholders and map the landscape, environment, and weather outside the company as well. But be careful not to get lost in the details, the goal is to get a thorough view of the whole forest and what’s outside it.

Plot your course. Now we have lots of “activity” covering our map and a purpose for where we are headed. It is time to create an intentional “route” for how we are going to get there. We must proactively and aggressively connect the dots. Yes, it is time for the integrated, cross-functional, long-term plan. We must communicate a bold vision of the future, align assets, terminate distractions, and post “trail signs” for others to follow.

What’s next? It is time to prepare our team, pick up new tools at the 2014 International Corporate Citizenship Conference, stock our backpacks, and take others with us on our journey.

Mark Feldman is Principal and Managing Director at Cause Consulting, a business strategy firm focused on strengthening business and impacting society., @causeconsulting