I just returned from the 2009 PR News CSR awards where several CSR programs were honored for employee engagement, CSR reports, community affairs etc.
All winners had the opportunity to say a few words from the podium and we were asked to respond to one of a few questions sent to us in advance. I addressed the question “In this tough economic environment, how do you get buy-in from the C-suite to invest in CSR ?”
It will probably come as no surprise that my thoughts were that, as CSR professionals, we need to evolve the perception of CSR in corporations and in the media. The tough economic environment is in part due to the failure to plan and operate sustainably. Together with our C-suite executives, we need to bring more sustainable thinking into our way of doing business. Philanthropy is still in the mix, but it is even more important to understand the social, economic and environmental impact our products and services have on the communities into which we sell them and then to act on that understanding to ensure sustainability.
A counterpart from Deloitte, a co-winner in the employee relations category, had a very similar message.
Next year I hope there will be an award category recognizing companies that have reviewed their core products and services though the lens of their sustainability objectives. And perhaps even a question for speakers to answer something like “how has your CSR team influenced the core product/service portfolio of your company to further your sustainability objectives”.
Congratulation to BT’s co-winner Deloitte in the Employee Relations category and to Agata Tyszkiewicz (CEO Publicist), Jeff Gluek (CMO Travelocity) and Rhonda Mims (President Corporate Responsibility, ING) my co-winners in the CSR Executive of the Year category. I am honored to be in their company.