Corporate citizenship goals beyond 'better': How to get where you want to go

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“To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill

TabletwithIssue22.jpgWinston Churchill is considered one of the greatest strategic minds in modern history. He not only led Britain through World War II, he played an active role in the passage of the People's Budget—which introduced major social welfare reform programs—established Britain's first minimum wage, and even won the Nobel Prize for

 literature. He understood that continual progress could only be achieved through constant adaptation.

As corporate citizenship professionals, you are tasked with creating both the world in which we want to do business, AND the world in which we want to live. It's a lofty mission, one that requires us to challenge the status quo and innovate to create radical change.

We all want to do better, but when we're designing our vision of the future—and developing the programs to achieve it—we need to move beyond "better", and really start to describe specific goals that will deliver tangible, measurable progress toward that vision. For example, organizations—if they assert that they simply want to get "better" at recycling—could claim victory if they recycled 201 cups instead of 200. To upend this, consider setting targets.

When you think about the "what" of your goals (reducing waste by 60 percent, or even eliminating waste altogether), don't forget to also be explicit about the "why"—speaking to all of the reasons that it might be important to others in your company (because it will reduce the carbon offsets we have to purchase and reduce our impact on our local landfill). This practice will help your team understand why they should prioritize corporate citizenship goals. Rather than getting "better" at supporting area youth, a company could consider a goal of achieving a 90 percent high-school graduation rate in its community, thereby improving its own pipeline of employees and improving the overall quality of life for employees who live and work in town.

To move beyond better, it's important that we set these specific targets, and then look backward to identify the necessary steps to achieve them. If we work strategically—focusing on the goals that align with our business purpose, and backing up our decisions with data—we'll be more likely to engage internal and external partners in achieving objectives toward our goals.

In the new issue of The Corporate Citizen, you'll read about leading companies who have moved beyond better to create first-in-class programs that engage their diverse employees, support the communities they impact across the globe, and advance the quality of life for people everywhere. Their stories illustrate the powerful potential of the private sector to create solutions for social and environmental issues that can help blaze the trail toward a sustainable future.

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