Corporate Social Responsibility of the Rich and Famous
Corporations can’t afford to be reactive in today’s 24-media cycle, complete with speculative pundits and an attention-starved blogosphere. Instead, corporations must be proactive and be community leaders that acquire goodwill through social responsibility programs.
Corporate Social Responsibility is more than a donation or a sponsorship in today’s global economy. Corporate Social Responsibility is a comprehensive philosophy that encompasses a ‘three pillar’ approach. Contemporary Corporate Social Responsibility in the private sector mirrors public sector full cost accounting, which seeks to satisfy the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.
Corporations measure organizational success in the same framework. Regardless of industry, a business must demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility by incorporating public interest into its processes. Here are three of Canada’s 15 most profitable companies and their Corporation Social Responsibility modus operandi.
1. Royal Bank of Canada
Canada’s largest bank and one of the largest banks is the world, RBC operates in 55 countries and generated $29 billion in revenue last year. In addition to publicizing the company’s CSR program on its website, RBC also publishes a yearly report and review for stakeholders, detailing social, economic and environmental commitments and impact.
RBC channels its efforts into serving the marketplace, the workplace, the environment and the community.
RBC values the manner in which the company makes money as much as how the company responsibly gives back to the community. RBC partnered with the University of Waterloo to create a retirement research centre designed to advise and support baby boomers transitioning into retirement.
RBC prides itself on creating a responsible environment and does so by providing learning and development opportunities. RBC was named Canada's Greenest Employers for 2010 by attracting employees via environmental leadership.
Continuing green policies, RBC created the RBC Environmental Blueprint, outlining policy, priorities and objectives, which collectively guides the company to reducing its environmental footprint by promoting environmentally responsible business activities. One of many initiatives, The RBC Blue Water Project is a 10-year, $50 million philanthropic commitment to watershed and clean drinking water protection.
More traditionally, the RBC Community Blueprint shapes community initiatives, community sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. RBC committed $105 million to community causes in 2009, including a $600,000 pledge to support the "Healthy Minds - Healthy Families" program offered by Healthy Minds Canada.
14. Enbridge Inc.
Like RBC, Enbridge takes a four-pronged approach using a corporate social responsibility policy document as a roadmap. The company compiles its efforts and actions into an annual report, also.
Enbridge strives to offset detrimental results of operations with positive reactions in what the company refers to as ‘Neutral Footprint.’ The ‘Tree for a Tree’ initiative binds the company to replant a tree for every tree removed. The ‘Acre for an Acre’ program prompts the company to conserve—through the Nature Conservancy of Canada—an acre of natural habitat for every acre permanently impacted by Enbridge operations.
And similarly, the ‘Kilowatt for a Kilowatt’ idea self-requires Enbridge to generate a KW hour of renewable energy for every hour of additional power operations consumed above 2008 levels.
Enbridge’s economic commitment aims to benefit communities through job creation, tax revenues and community development projects. The company supports the Aboriginal and Native American communities as well, realizing Enbridge is only as strong as the community in which it operates.
Similar to its ‘Neutral Footprint’ goals, Enbridge invests in renewable energy projects has currently operates six wind farms, a solar facility, and a hybrid fuel cell system. The company is also working on waste heat recovery technologies.
The social pillar of Enbridge’s CSR policy ranges from safe operations of pipelines to signing the United Nations Global Compact, an international initiative in support of human rights, labour and the environment.
15. Rogers Communications Inc.
Included in the Jantzi Social Index for passing a set of environmental, social and governance criteria, Rogers Communications’ wireless, cable, high-speed internet, telephony and media products alone do not satisfy its expectations.
Rogers’ support is directed toward arts and entertainment, social services, education, health, media production and sports. Across these disciplines, Rogers specifically intends to aid children and youth.
Rogers’ support has more breadth than just financial contributions. The corporation’s staff runs the Rogers Pumpkin Patrol to keep kids safe each Halloween and the company is the national wireless sponsor of the Phones-for-Food program.
Most corporations operating today know that their Corporate Social Responsibility policies play an equal, if not greater, role in the organization’s success as products and services.
A stockpile of goodwill from community endeavors can potentially mitigate plummeting stock prices as a result of unforeseen backlashes to well intended, but misguided actions.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.