What leadership means for corporate citizenship


“To lead people, walk beside them... As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence... When the best leader's work is done the people say, we did it ourselves!” - Lao Tzu

Never doubt that you are a leader. As corporate citizenship professionals know, leadership takes a variety of forms and can come from unexpected places. Today, a new kind of leader is emerging—one who leads from behind and within. Between the rise of cross-sector collaborations such as the Sustainable Development Goals to address global issues, and the increased transparency of our interconnected world, the power to effect change has become more distributed than ever before.

In companies, corporate citizenship professionals are perfectly positioned to channel that power. Your role touches on so many others, both across the organization and within your surrounding communities. The power of your leadership lies in your ability to align and empower those stakeholders to achieve a better business and a better world. 

Your corporate peers put these words into action. Companies are taking bold stances—ahead of regulatory requirements—on issues such as climate change, board diversity, and LGBTQ rights. They are redefining employee wellness and engagement by encouraging equal pay, raising wages, and granting parental leave. Where students lack employable skills in STEM, they implement strategic initiatives to bridge that gap. These are areas which are integral to your corporate citizenship work, and professionals like you should have a hand in guiding these initiatives each day.

Corporate leaders are also taking advantage of the business value inherent in community involvement efforts, such as employee volunteering and corporate giving. The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s forthcoming Community Involvement Study provides additional evidence that well-designed community involvement programs can deepen employee engagement and commitment, as well as contribute to a positive reputation.

Our best leaders listen to their people, regardless of where they sit in the organization. They are aware of emerging trends and keyed in to what is on the horizon. Finally, no matter how much they have accomplished, the most exemplary corporate citizenship leaders are always striving to do better—and inspiring others to do so as well.