Create your own collaborative CSR team

Teamwork-Innovation-AdobeStock-85057404-A.png“There’s a way to do it better—find it.” Thomas Edison

Corporate citizenship professionals lead their companies to ‘better’—better workplaces, better communities, even a better planet. Progressing to ‘better’ requires a critical assessment of where we are now, and the courage to adapt, plan, and—ultimately—change our future path.

Thankfully, creating the world in which we want to do business and the world in which we want to live isn’t a solo effort—it requires the ideas, inputs, and skills from a wide variety of people, from both in and outside of your company. Throughout history, even the greatest inventors did not make discoveries alone, but rather relied on the perspectives and abilities of those who went before them and from their diverse teams to create the methods and products that advanced business and society. For example, Thomas Edison, a name synonymous with innovation, was not a lone genius, but instead employed a small assembly of inventors at his Menlo Park lab who he called his “muckers.” His team was carefully selected and represented a variety of skill sets and backgrounds, a diversity that Edison harnessed to achieve breakthrough innovations such as electric light and the telegraph.

As corporate citizenship professionals, it is vital that you take the time to cultivate your own innovation collaborative. According to the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s forthcoming Profile of the Professionals 2018 study (to be released later this month), the majority of corporate citizenship professionals continue to operate as part of small departments (three or fewer individuals), but you don’t need a large dedicated corporate citizenship staff to effect change. Instead, you can amplify your resources by identifying ambassadors throughout your organization.

The key is to determine which colleagues have a vested interest in achieving environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives, and then to illustrate how the specific corporate citizenship effort will enable them to reach their own business goals. For example, a corporate citizenship professional working to create a sustainability report will need to partner closely with operational units, and would do best by detailing how the metrics synthesized in the report can help those leaders build efficiency to improve performance going forward. Meanwhile, one who is working to increase employee engagement will find a strong ally in HR. While not all corporate citizenship professionals can lead large teams, they can build them if they think carefully about shared values.

At the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, we’re proud to be a part of our members’ networks, and to provide insights and resources to help them manage their networks more effectively. Remember, membership with the Center is company-wide; and we encourage you invite your colleagues to share in Center content and events. Here are some resources that you can make available to colleagues:

  • Regulatory Radar, our monthly briefing on emerging regulatory issues, can benefit your Corporate Secretary or General Counsel’s office.
  • Our webinars and courses can inform the strategy of your public affairs, reporting, community investment, and sustainability teams.
  • Insights from our Diversity & Inclusion and Corporate Citizenship Report can be used by your colleagues in HR.
  • Stories from The Corporate Citizen magazine can help your marketing and communications departments discover how other leading companies are communicating their corporate citizenship efforts
  • Research Briefs can provide valuable data to operational units, top leaders, and provide empirical data to inform your strategy.

Strategic corporate citizenship professionals also learn from each other. That’s why we provide numerous networking activities throughout the year. From our affinity groups, to our online member community, to our in-person and on-demand online courses, we work to create the connections that help you Know More, Do More, And Achieve More with your important work.


Join us and your colleagues at our annual International Corporate Citizenship Conference. Held from April 8 - 10 at The Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, California, this 2.5 day event features networking opportunities from relaxed gatherings such as receptions and industry summits, to more structured sharing such as our Idea Exchange Breakfast and our breakout sessions. I hope you’ll join us—and more than 600 CSR experts from around the world—this spring. Together, we’ll create a responsible path forward to ensure resilience and deliver results.