Day two of 2014 Conference delivers information and inspiration

From driving change through employee engagement and deploying the workforce across the globe as mentors, to celebrating Usher’s life-changing youth empowerment initiative, the second day of the Boston College 2014 International Corporate Citizenship Conference delivered as promised with a solid lineup of moderated discussion and lively panel presentations.

The day’s first general session, “Citizenship with Inspirational Impact”, featured conference sponsor The Walt Disney Company as it shined a light on the company’s rich history and its recently refreshed corporate responsibility strategy. Jay Rasulo, Disney’s senior executive president and chief financial officer, said, “For us investing in citizenship is important for our business”. He talked about how adaptable leadership has influenced Disney’s citizenship efforts over time, and was recently demonstrated by the company’s successful refresh of its citizenship – to be more focused, better resourced and more proactive for greater impact.

Rasulo was followed by Mitch Jackson, vice president, environmental affairs and sustainability with FedEx, who gave an overview of his company’s deeply embedded citizenship efforts, particularly as they relate to sustainable leadership. Jackson noted FedEx’s driving principles for sustainability commitments, including:

  • Mapping the future
  • Identifying your company’s hotspots and business-relevant issues
  • Being adaptable
  • Leading stability within ourselves

Jackson echoed the previous night’s remarks by colleague Rajesh Subramaniam about the importance of connecting people with possibilities. “Connecting the world responsibly and resourcefully is integrated in the business,” Jackson said. FedEx’s building blocks for leading sustainability, Jackson explained are performance, transparency, and innovation.

The next general session convened top EY executives to talk entrepreneurism and corporate citizenship. The session illustrated how EY, one of the world's leading professional services organizations, has made entrepreneurship a pillar of its corporate citizenship strategy. Leaders from EY’s Strategic Growth Markets and Americas networks talked about how the company’s business-aligned corporate citizenship contributes to the triple bottom line. Session speakers were EY’s Deborah K. Holmes, Americas director of corporate responsibility, partner April Spencer, manager Cindy Ho, and People Consultant Paul Kotz.

“Entrepreneurship is central to EY’s business purpose,” said Holmes.

Spencer stressed that it is necessary to partner and collaborate with government, entrepreneurs, and corporations in order to grow business and advance corporate citizenship.

Kotz described the EY Vantage Advisors program, which deploys high performing EY professionals into the field across the globe and provides seven weeks of hands-on mentoring to promising entrepreneurs. Throughout the session Kotz and his colleagues reiterated that empowering entrepreneurs and helping promising businesses grow ultimately results in job development, which in turn has the greatest impact on social good.

The afternoon session, “Strength and Longevity Through Adaptation”, featured Wells Fargo, focusing on the 161-year-old company’s remarkable ability to adapt while faced with significant change, uncertainty, and the natural evolution in business over the many decades since its founding.

Tim Hanlon, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation, was joined by Wells Fargo & Company colleagues Jon Campbell, executive vice president, director of government and community relations, and Georgette “Gigi” Dixon, senior vice president, director of national partnerships, government and community relations.

The session opened with a video depicting images of the 2008 financial crisis, steeped in bank bailouts, home foreclosures, and regulation overhauls. Hanlon remarked how this devastating chapter of our recent history forced Wells Fargo to reflect on its role in this time of turmoil and pushed the company to change its stakeholder engagement going forward.

Campbell reflected how Wells Fargo over the years, particularly in the time leading up to, during and coming out of the recession, had to seriously examine its approach to corporate responsibility and stakeholder engagement. He referenced the rich relationship the company forged with Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition to address and listen to company stakeholders about the personal tribulations their communities were struggling with as a result of the financial crisis.

Dixon described Wells Fargo’s NeighboorhoodLIFT program, which provides citizens in troubled communities with the knowledge, resources, and financial access necessary to be able to buy homes in the unpredictable housing market.

The evening festivities commenced with a cocktail reception hosted by Brown-Forman, followed by a session hosted by the Travelers Companies Inc., featuring Marlene Ibsen, chief executive officer and president of Travelers Foundation, and Shawn Wilson, president of Usher’s New Look Foundation. The session showcased and celebrated New Look, an initiative that goes into underserved communities to identify and develop promising youth today and empower and groom them to become the successful leaders of tomorrow. The Foundation’s work, which has touched the lives of 16,000 young people to date, is founded on developing participants around four key pillars: talent, education, career, and service. Wilson and Ibsen treated the audience by introducing James Harris, one of New Look’s dynamic alums, who shared his incredible personal journey of growth from being an at-risk teenager from the streets to becoming one of New Look’s most impressive leaders who is now applying the lessons and values the program has instilled in him and guiding the many promising New Look participants to becoming our next leaders.

The night ended with presentation of the sixth annual Corporate Citizenship Film Festival, sponsored this year by the Travelers Companies.