Corporate Citizenship Conference Recap Day 1: Exploring and Celebrating the Digital Age


The first day of the 2015 International Corporate Citizenship Conference was packed with insights, discussion, and collaboration, as CSR professionals from around the world came together to network, share stories, and learn from each other—and from experts in the field. While it was a day of growth and exploration, it was also a day of celebration, as UPS and Mary Kay were both awarded the top prize for the 2015 International Corporate Citizenship Film Festival. 

Finding common bonds

The work that is accomplished by networking with peers—outlining issues with existing programs or those in the early planning stages, sharing tactics and tips to advance initiatives and gain buy-in—is some of the most important work that is accomplished during the Corporate Citizenship Conference, which is why the Center goes to great lengths to create meaningful spaces for networking, both in small groups and with the larger audience. 

The day began with a series of events catering to various industries, as well as some of the Center for Corporate Citizenship’s affinity groups. CSR professionals representing the manufacturing, finance, and professional services sectors gathered with their peers for Industry Summits—unique opportunities designed to expand networks and share best practices—while nearby, graduates of the Center’s Leadership Academy reunited with fellow alumni, causing a flurry of energy: exchanging anecdotes, introducing old friends to new colleagues, and catching up with their classmates and teaching fellows.

In the early evening, the disparate clusters that were meeting throughout the Hilton Austin coalesced in a larger one, as attendees filtered out of meeting rooms and lobbies for the Opening Reception, hosted by Altria, as well as the Welcome Dinner, where participants were warmly received by the Center’s Director of Membership and Member Services, Colleen Olphert, and introduced to Trisa Thompson, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Dell—the event’s convening sponsor. Thomspon welcomed the room to Austin, and promised a engaging and information-packed event in Dell's hometown.

Socializing corporate citizenship

Day one of the 2015 Corporate Citizenship Conference culminated with an exploration of CSR in the digital age, as well as a celebration of technology in action, as Rey Ocañas, Executive Vice President and Director of Corporate Responsibility and Reputation at BBVA Compass, led the first of the Conference’s illuminating General Sessions, and announced the winner of the 2015 International Corporate Citizenship Film Festival Awards.

During his session, Ocañas explored how technology advancements, social media, and the shifting digital landscape have changed the way major corporations are perceived by their stakeholders. He shared how BBVA Compass became the number one bank in corporate reputation in the United States—by living their mission: working for a better future for people—and by communicating it.

"Social media is changing the way that we as leaders deliver the messages from our companies out to the community," said Ocañas. "We need to make sure we go beyond the press release, beyond the photo op, and take our corporate citizenship communications fully digital."

During his remarks, Ocañas stressed the importance of collaborating with other departments and with external partners to ensure that corporate citizenship efforts are effectively communicated to the wider audience. He provided as an example EverFi, BBVA Compass's strategic partnership with NBA Cares. A program that offers financial management advance to students and  their parent, EverFi has reached over 40,000 low and moderate-income 4th and 5th graders in more than 800 classrooms. By partnering with NBA Cares, BBVA Compass has the ability to engage more students, and communicate their work more broadly. 

The good act," said Ocañas, “should not be a tree that falls in the wood.”

To conclude the session, Ocañas was joined by Olphert to introduce the top ten finalists for the 2015 International Corporate Citizenship Film Festival Awards. All ten finalists—who were selected out of 58 by popular vote—produced videos that were engaging, illuminating, and inspiring. The top prize was awarded to two companies, UPS and Mary Kay Inc.

"It was truly impossible this year to choose only one," said Olphert. "While all ten finalists offered really spectacular videos, the efforts of UPS and Mary Kay really struck the panel."

In their video titled “UPS Relief Link,” UPS illustrated the vital technical and logistical support the company has offered to refugee camps in Mali. Following the Haitian earthquake in 2010, UPS adapted its proprietary UPS Trackpad package-tracking technology to minimize violence and chaos during the distribution of relief supplies, ensuring that each family received an equitable distribution of supplies. Based on this initiative’s success, UPS and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) developed a NEXT Generation Tracking System for use in refugee camps, which could have a tremendous impact on the lives of refugees and provide a new level of efficiency for UNHCR.

In accepting his award, Jerald Barnes, Director of Global Employee Engagement at the UPS Foundation, underlined the vital role that corporate citizenship practitioners play. "We are solving problems. We are in some of the most difficult places in the world. We are bringing company expertise to some of the most devastated places in the globe," said Barnes. "We must continue to look internally, find our strengths, and find a way to transport that to the most needy places."

Mary Kay’s video featured a topic that has remained the focal point of the company’s CSR efforts for decades: domestic violence. Titled “One in Four,” the video cast a light on a harrowing statistic; one in four women in the United States will experience domestic abuse.  The piece featured four domestic violence survivors, whose stories offered proof that while abuse can happen to anyone, there is always hope for a new life.

Kirsten Gappelberg, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Mary Kay, accepted the award, and spoke to the power of including real people, sharing real stories. "When you support an issue like domestic violence—you don’t have tons of women running to the microphone wanting to share their story," said Gappelberg. "We were so lucky to find four unique women to serve as the mouthpiece for the one in four women that experience domestic violence." 

Congratulations to all who participated this year! 

The ten videos provided concrete support for the importance of corporate citizenship. Attendees witnessed firsthand the effects of CSR efforts on our environment, our society, and our businesses. Galvanized by this awareness, conference participants dispersed for the evening, inspired to imagine what MORE might be possible, and to ready themselves for tomorrow, a day packed full of general sessions, breakout sessions and workshops, and even more networking opportunities. 

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