Building CSR on optimism in 2018


“Optimism is a force multiplier” ~ Colin Powell

As corporate citizenship professionals, our task is to create the world in which we want to do business and the world in which we want to live. This has never been an easy objective, but recently the challenges facing us have become even more apparent.

The past year has been a time of great change—and for many of us—those changes have at times been difficult to accept. However, while the past 12 months have been tumultuous, they have given me plenty of reasons to maintain, and even increase, my optimism.

2017 may have been full of events, both man-made and natural, that have caused all of us to pause and take stock of what it is that we value—withdrawal from the Paris Accord, exposure of pervasive sexual harassment, natural disasters of immense scale. It was gratifying to see that each of these and many other challenges elicited responses from corporate America as CEOs took action to affirm their companies’ core values.

Throughout the year, corporate leaders have acted decisively to commit to social and environmental progress like never before, advocating for immigration, LGBT rights, and environmental innovation. For example, following the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement—firms rallied to show that We are Still In, and solidified their pledges with strategic efforts—to such a great extent that the UN environmental chief announced recently that the United States will likely live up to the accord due to corporate efforts. Companies rallied around the victims of natural disasters around the globe, and are starting to send a decisive message that the workplace climate for women MUST change. It is these actions that give me cause to be optimistic.

Optimism is an important component of resilience. It allows us to pick up and keep going when we feel exhausted, and to make tough decisions when faced with difficult odds, because with optimism we maintain our vision for a better tomorrow, and we recognize our role in achieving it.

This upcoming April, the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship will gather more than 600 CSR experts to create that future vision during our annual International Corporate Citizenship Conference. This year, we will host the event in Los Angeles, and are privileged to welcome Travelers as our convening sponsor. Those that attend will hear from companies that have cultivated resilience by taking a longer view in their strategies, by refusing to see impediments to progress as obstacles and viewing them rather as challenges to be overcome, and by maintaining tenacious optimism about what is possible.

These companies are part of the Center’s member community—more than 430 companies from around the world who are dedicated to making every year better than the last. Here at the Center, we feel privileged to support that mission, and will continue to offer the research, education, tools, and insights to prepare you to achieve your corporate citizenship objectives. Together, we will create the world in which we want to do business and the world in which we want to live.

Join us in Los Angeles on April 8-10 for the International Corporate Citizenship Conference—Register before January 19 and save $500.