Notes From the Road

Mar 30, 2009

It’s been fascinating to hear the latest research and thinking on corporate citizenship strategy and examples of advanced programs in other companies. I haven’t been to a corporate citizenship conference in a couple of years and much has advanced.

We heard the director of Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship talking about how the Center, in response to a changing environment, has evolved … from an early focus on supporting individual practicitioners of corporate social responsibility … to a focus on developing organizational strategies … to today’s focus on the role of business as an embedded part of the large issues of society … with a call for transparency and accountablity.

This mirrors the Amway evolution from simple philanthropy to strategic systems of leveraging all our resources, including knowledge, networks, employee skills and IBO actions to support the communities around us in big ways.

We heard from Adam Werbach, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchy S and former president of the Sierra Club, who talked about using this time of financial crisis to create a strategy for sustainability.

Adam had a great quote in answer to a question about teaching our children about sustainability and giving back. He said (paraphrase) that you really have to push the concept of sustainability and corporate citizenship, and we are just starting to see some momentum, but (quote) “The only audience that does not take explaining to is our youth.” So right! Kids always seem to get why we are doing things like One by One, but adults like us with experience and knowledge take longer to understand the value.

We also heard Van Jones speak. He is an entrepreneur and environmentalist who just got hired onto President Obama’s administration as a special advisor on green jobs. He talked a lot about the administration’s recovery package and changing the mindset on energy and sustainability, working closely with corporations. He said, “We are the first generation to get to create whole new sectors and industries that we did not inherit.” This speaks not only to environmental issues, but to community engagement and partnerships.

Heard a bit about how The Gap works with high schoolers from underserved areas to teach job skills at the individual store level and provide internships and career tracks. Also heard how IBM and Ernst & Young are sending top performing leaders to work with entrepreneurs and businesses in emerging markets in Africa and South America. The idea is it makes for better workers and helps them to understand markets where they may be operating some day.

That’s enough heady stuff for now. My mind is full!

  • 2 Comments

    • Guest says:

      Jesse,
      Thanks for sharing..I am excited Amway is in the forefront of all these.

    • Guest says:

      That is so true…(agreeing with Sivaram).
      Thanks Jesse for sharing.

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