Corporate Citizenship Conference Recap Day 1: Sharing Stories, Driving Change

032617_BCCCC_0966.jpgTo achieve business and social value, CSR practitioners must draw on the diverse resources and support offered through their corporate citizenship ecosystems. Today, 550 of those professionals joined us in Boston to expand their ecosystems, all while learning to navigate them more effectively.

In Good Company

The 2017 International Corporate Citizenship Conference is a 2.5 day event created to facilitate thoughtful sharing and collaboration. Because the event is open to CSR practitioners only, attendees are afforded a unique opportunity to ask difficult questions, share challenges, and hold frank discussions.

Today, this sense of community was immediately evident during the event’s opening networking sessions and evening reception, sponsored by Altria. The host of the event, Immanuel Sutherland, senior specialist of corporate citizenship at Altria Client Services, urged attendees to grow and develop their corporate citizenship ecosystems over the next few days.

“While you’re here, listen, learn, and share,” he said. “Your unique perspective could be the solution to someone’s common challenge.”

The networking continued through dinner, where Katherine V. Smith, the Center’s executive director, welcomed the crowd to Boston with the help of Mike Rogers, president and chief operating officer of State Street.

A Boston College Alumni, Rogers gave a glimpse into tomorrow’s State Street session, which will focus on how the company is working to strengthen the city through its Boston WINs program—an ambitious effort built on coordinated action with local nonprofits that are dedicated to education and workforce development.

“We’re investing $20 million in five high-performing nonprofits over the next four years,” said Rogers. “We require that these nonprofits collaborate with one another and with us to provide coordinated services and increase impact of the program.”

Storytelling and Celebration

The first general session, hosted by FedEx, offered a deep dive into the transformative power of storytelling to engage and activate an audience in a corporate citizenship cause. Neil J. Gibson, vice president of corporate communications at FedEx Services, took the stage to share his strategy for inspiring change through filmmaking, social media, and internal communications.

“First, stories must drive emotion,” he said. “People look to find emotion first in a story – they evaluate how it makes them feel and these emotions can even influence a decision. Next, stories must make people care—and they aren’t bound by time. Finally, stories deal with dilemma and have the following four elements: protagonist, antagonist, setting, and emotion.”

During his remarks, Gibson shared the driving force behind compelling stories: employees. It is through employees, he contended, that FedEx will deliver on the promise of its new global giving platform, FedEx Cares—a commitment to invest $200 million in over 200 global communities by 2020 to create opportunity and deliver solutions around the world.

“We encourage all our team members to share their stories, especially through volunteer initiatives. This is where the emotion and the heart come from,” he said. “Our people are the protagonists of our FedEx Cares stories. They create stories and they tell stories—every day they serve as advocates for positive change.”

Gibson's session emphasized the importance of strong corporate citizenship ecosystems. He pointed to the internal collaboration that supported the company’s Story Map—it’s communication blueprint—as well as the internal and external partnerships it cultivates in order to tell inspiring stories. He underscored that it’s through these networks that corporate citizenship efforts can be effectively developed, managed, and communicated. When these networks are engaged to create and tell meaningful stories, corporate citizenship progress can be made.

“Storytelling can leave a lasting impression on people,” he said. “It drives them to make change, feel inspired and be proactive.”

The focus on storytelling carried through to the final event of the night: The 9th Annual Corporate Citizenship Film Festival Awards. The Center’s annual Film Festival is a unique event that highlights the corporate citizenship initiatives that are making connections and addressing issues across the globe—and applauds the creative and inspiring methods used to communicate these efforts. Smith rejoined Gibson on stage to congratulate the top nine finalists of this year’s festival, and announce the winners.

“In the past nine years, we’ve received nearly 500 submissions from companies,” said Smith. “This year, submissions spanned 16 industries and more than 20 US states, as well as Australia, Canada, Denmark and Mexico.”

The 2017 Film Festival offered a series of prize categories to recognize the wide range of initiatives that were submitted. Categories included:

  • Company size
    • Small Company (employee size 1- 5,000)
    • Medium Company (employee size 5,000 - 30,000)
    • Large Company (employee size 30,000 +)
  • Fan Favorite (largest number of public votes)
  • Best in Show

The award for Medium Company went to Health Care Service Corporation for their terrific video: Taking on Asthma.


UPS took home the Large Company category prize for Rwanda and UPS Launch World’s First National Drone Delivery Service


In a stunning sweep, Experiencias Xcaret took home the Small Company prize, the Fan Favorite award AND the Best in Show for their gorgeous video Flying Home: The Return of the Scarlet Macaw.


“The opportunity to watch these videos every year reminds me of all the great work you do out in the world,” said Smith. “Thank you for all of your great communication on top of your great work.”

Congratulations to all who participated this year! 

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