The Management and Execution of Global Corporate Citizenship


The world has never been so small, nor the issues facing it so far-reaching. Last month, the United Nations convened a general assembly to discuss the broad range of issues facing the world, including climate change, health, and security. In his closing speech, Sam Kutesa, President of the UNGA 69 stressed the need for “financial resources, capacity building, and technology development and transfer” from all global leaders and partners. Businesses are critical in finding solutions to these needs, and are increasingly expected to respond to global issues. Nearly 70 percent of the Center for Corporate Citizenship’s 400 member companies identify as either global or international, but even domestic companies are connected to the global network through their supply chains, access to capital, and employees. According to the Center’s 2013 Profile of the Practice report, almost two-thirds of companies report having a formal corporate citizenship strategy, although a smaller percentage of companies reported having a global corporate citizenship strategy in 2013 versus 2010. This may reflect challenges in scaling corporate citizenship on a global level. Corporations have grappled with this and many other logistical challenges of operating and executing citizenship abroad, including navigating foreign bureaucracies, differences in the cultural definition of philanthropy, the role of non-profits, and the diverse needs of local communities. The report goes on to suggest that the most common approach to managing corporate citizenship across multiple global regions is to employ general direction from the top, with local execution and adaption. This distributed approach allows companies to adjust to meet the needs of their diverse local communities. This is just one of many ways to address the organizational challenge of global engagement. Other critical decisions facing citizenship professionals include budget determination, staffing, navigation of regulatory environments, focus areas, and program portfolio components.

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In our February webinar, we featured four member companies who discussed some of the logistical realities of executing corporate citizenship activities around the world. Leela Stake, vice president and co-chair, sustainable growth and corporate responsibility at APCO Worldwide, Patrick McCarthy, executive director of the ExxonMobil Foundation, Carlos Pagoaga, director, global community affairs at Coca-Cola, and Jennifer Silberman, vice president of corporate responsibility at Hilton Worldwide shared their experiences of corporate citizenship management internationally.
  1. APCO Worldwide's clients are some of the world’s most engaged and strategic forces for good. They participate in A Billion + Change, which leverages the human capital and knowledge of APCO team members. APCO has been a member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) since 2008, where they provide communication counsel, training, and media relations support at annual meetings. APCO is also active with the United Nations Global Compact.
  2. ExxonMobil has refined their strategy to best suit the needs of each specific country they are in—in Angola they sponsor local students, in India they address environmental performance through natural resource preservation. In China, Exxon has a program devoted to elder care which is just one example of the company’s commitment to human rights and managing community impact.
  3. Coca-Cola is a global company that operates like a local company in every region it serves. CEO and Chairman Muhtar Kent believes in the collaborative power of unlocking the “Golden Triangle” of business, government, and civil societal organizations because it allows for a greater collective impact than any one organization could achieve alone. Coca-Cola focuses its global corporate citizenship on what it has defined as the 3 W’s: Women, Water, and Well-Being.
  4. Hilton Worldwide as a business flourishes on the vibrancy and sustainability of the communities in which it is located. Hilton knows that its business has an impact on the communities and seeks to address the community’s social, economic, and sustainable issues. Hilton focuses on four key areas, including Creating Opportunities, which gives underserved populations professional development in the scope of hospitality; Strengthening Communities, which provides economic support of emerging local businesses; Celebrating Cultures, which offers cultural programs at their hotels; and Living Sustainably, which assists in protection of natural resources in the community.

To listen to what happened on our webinar, "The management and execution of global citizenship", click here.