Expert Perspectives from the Corner Office

The following is excerpted from the most recent issue of The Corporate Citizen, the Center’s biannual magazine. According to the Center’s 2013 Profile of the Practice, executives are leading the corporate citizenship charge in greater numbers than ever. Among those companies surveyed for the study, a majority of the chief executives are highly engaged in supporting corporate citizenship—and these executives are more involved than ever in developing strategy, setting goals, and communicating corporate citizenship. They are also elevating the management of corporate citizenship programs. Executive leadership of corporate citizenship has doubled in recent years from just 30 percent in 2010 to a majority 60 percent today. When executives leverage their unique roles within a company and get involved directly with corporate citizenship efforts, they can create lasting programs that align with business strategy and engage employees. Here are just a few top executives and their points of view about how corporate citizenship creates business value and social value—and why doing both is critically important.

Rob Demartini—President and Chief Executive Officer, New BalanceRob Demartini—President and Chief Executive Officer, New Balance

The best corporate citizenship programs reflect the vision and mission of the company, and executives are uniquely qualified to arrange this alignment. At New Balance, Rob DeMartini, president and chief executive officer, ensures that all initiatives, corporate citizenship or otherwise, tie in with company values. “Linking corporate citizenship to core business strategies yields results. The best organizations lead with their values. They take the long view. Our values—teamwork, integrity, and total customer satisfaction—are our guideposts. We want to be successful—but not at any cost. We’ll be successful on our terms, with Responsible Leadership. When the choice is between right and right now, the most successful organizations choose right based on a set of core values deeply held in the C-suite, through every associate down to the factory floor. Business is a powerful force for social change. It is the role of Responsible Leadership to lead the way.”

Denise Morrison –President and Chief Executive Officer, CampbellDenise Morrison –President and Chief Executive Officer, Campbell

It is important to keep in mind that corporate citizenship efforts should not oppose the business, or even simply run parallel to business objectives. Instead, social efforts can complement those of the business—strengthening customer relations as well as the product—as they do at Campbell’s. "At Campbell's, we are addressing a unique range of topics through our citizenship programs, including sustainable agriculture, responsible sourcing, promotion of sound nutrition, and responsiveness to consumers' expectations of the foods that they choose for themselves and their families. Of all the activities that an organization undertakes, it is corporate social responsibility that humanizes, civilizes, and personalizes the competitive world of global commerce. This is hard and important work. As the leader of Campbell, I believe that we can make a profit and make a difference. It has been our legacy for 145 years and it is our future."

Frederick W. Smith Chairman—and Chief Executive Officer, FedEx CorporationFrederick W. Smith Chairman—and Chief Executive Officer, FedEx Corporation

As a company with a global presence, FedEx has the opportunity to affect lives throughout the world. This broad reach can only be successfully utilized, however, with the input and involvement of the entire team. “At FedEx, we’ve seen the great results of connecting people and possibilities around the world, and we realize the success of communities and companies are intertwined. Social responsibility can drive positive change in our cities, marketplaces, and society at large. Plus, it’s good business and a wise investment in the future of FedEx. We know our sustainability efforts don’t just come from the top of the organization. Our entire FedEx team is committed to higher standards of global citizenship and to delivering more possibilities for people everywhere. FedEx team members around the world are often the creative impetus for our problem-solving through their diverse outlooks and great ideas. It’s by giving back to them, but also by learning from them, that we make better decisions that improve our company, and our world.”

Jay Rasulo—Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, The Walt Disney CompanyJay Rasulo—Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, The Walt Disney Company

At Disney, corporate citizenship doesn’t end with the successful execution of a program. Instead, it lives on through the actions of those it touches, as they are inspired to imagine a better world, and make the ethical choices and actions necessary to create it. “The notion of citizenship has always been core for The Walt Disney Company and to our identity. Our stories have often envisioned an ideal world—the world people hope for. Our commitment to kids and families has to extend beyond entertainment to the real world that they live in. We have a role in creating the better tomorrow we help people imagine. While our own actions can better the world, the actions we inspire can profoundly change it. As a company that sparks the imaginations of kids all over the world, we believe we can play a meaningful role in developing the creative thinking skills of the next generation of engineers, architects, artists, Imagineers, and dreamers. We can never be certain of what the future holds, but we can do our best to prepare, motivate, and inspire. Inspiring others to think creatively, live healthier, conserve nature, and strengthen our communities is a citizenship strategy that represents who we are as a company and where we can make the biggest difference. Walt Disney famously remarked that Disneyland would never be finished so long as there is imagination left in the world. We view our approach to citizenship in the same way: Even though we will never be finished, we must always do more, and inspire others to join us along the way.” To gain greater insight into the minds and methods of corporate citizenship leaders, check out The Corporate Citizen, the Center’s biannual magazine, and The Profile of the Practice, a primary research project created for Center members. Not a member? Learn more about how you can know more, do more, and achieve more with Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship courses and offerings for professionals.