Posts Tagged ‘corporate’
By Svetlana Skryagina
The notion of soft power – the ability of a country to attract and persuade, coined by Joseph Nye in the late 1980s, is recently being used in relation to corporate business. Drawing the analogy with nation-states, corporate soft power came into existence with strengthening of corporate hard power – business globalization and vast increase in the scale of operations. But how is it being addressed by the corporate world? If nation-states utilize the public diplomacy as a premier tool for influencing public opinion and promoting country image, what do companies employ? Corporate social responsibility (CSR) might be the case.
CSR and corporate philanthropy programmes form a strategic basis of corporate soft power. International aid projects, including international pro bono and corporate volunteering initiatives, present a good example of companies’ efforts to contribute to social development, while enhancing their visibility and strengthening goodwill. One of the leaders in international pro bono services is IBM and its Corporate Service Corps program. Under the program IBM employees implement community-driven development projects for local communities, public bodies and non-governmental organizations in emerging markets. Since its launch in 2008 more than 1200 people took part in the program, making positive social impact in more than 20 countries around the world. Such projects allow business to create shared value in local communities, communicate its company image and at the same time develop employees through experiential learning.
Another way of shaping stakeholder preferences and mainstreaming values is through thought leadership and alignment with social context. As countries communicate their vision, culture and values through public organizations such as Goethe Institute, British Council or Confucius Institute, so companies establish corporate funds and fellowships to address topical social issues or target specific groups.
L’Oreal Women in Science International Fellowship program raises awareness on the contribution of women researchers to the sciences. Under the program more than 1200 outstanding female scientists across the globe were awarded the fellowships, supporting their further research since 1998. Avon is well-known for its Avon Breast Cancer Crusade – initiative, which comprises research, education, trainings, counseling and outreach on breast cancer, making the company a leading corporate supporter of the cause globally.
The clothing and outdoor gear manufacturer Patagonia challenged the basics of market economy by introducing the Common Threads Initiative. Using a break-through approach of free repairs for its clothing, constant research on creating eco-friendly yet durable fabrics, and responsibility for recycling its own garments, the company addressed the issue of excessive consumption.
All these cases speak loud of CSR as an effective corporate soft power instrument. Yet the question remains – will this power be used for better or for worse, strengthening CSR case or cheating on stakeholder expectations.
Governance Research Digest – August 2012
This report discusses 10 prescriptions for handling the situations where securities and financial firms are likely to face some enforcement proceedings that create a situation fraught with potential pitfalls. It includes the importance of detailed advance planning, management of public statements, cooperation with the government, resisting the urge to discipline early, and, when the smoke clears, learning from the crisis.
- Anytime a firm finds itself under any of regulatory inquiries, it faces a potential corporate crisis, and, for those inclined to look for sliver lining within storm clouds, an opportunity.
- If handled effectively, a firm can emerge from a crisis in one piece, with any flawed procedures and systems corrected, a reputation on the mend, and operations still intact.
- However, handled poorly, a crisis can leave a firm teetering on the brink of failure, suffering the loss of important customers and personnel, enormous financial costs, and reputational harm.
- The following are 10 commandments of crisis management that, if implemented effectively, can help a financial services firm wind up at the better end of this range of outcomes:
- Heed the boys scouts’ motto: be prepared;
- While every crisis in unique, advance planning can make a huge difference;
- Beginnings are as important as endings;
- Speak with one voice;
- Stop any bad practices as soon as possible;
- Be careful of the “first date”;
- You may be able to protect the attorney-client privilege, but you still have to share the key facts;
- Not every stone needs to be turned over;
- Resist the urge to discipline too early;
- When the smoke clears, learn from the experience.
The Conference Board
Author(s): Kay Allen with Tanja Rasmussen
Publisher: Diverse Advice Ltd
A wise man once declared that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. The same logic has been applied by Kay Allen and Tanja Rasmussen in their practical guide to managing corporate-charity partnerships.
Drawing upon ten successful cross-sector relationships, Corporates are from Mars, Charities are from Venus aims to provide a systematic approach to charity-corporate collaborations.
Framed around a ten-point action plan and drawing upon John Gray’s original subject matter, the book works through a charity-corporate partnership from conception to conclusion. Starting with singlehood and the desire to form a partnership, the guide journeys through the corporate-charity dating scene, engagement, marriage and through to reflections.
With a tongue-in-cheek approach, the book delivers a logical, well-structured guide. Recognising differences in values and expectations, it celebrates the distinctiveness of both sectors and the benefits they bring to a relationship. Helpfully, Corporates are from Mars, Charities are from Venus is infused with pragmatism courtesy of Allen and Rasmussen’s practical experience of the topic. Combined with case studies from senior leaders and practitioners across both sectors, the book offers a valuable insight for those embarking upon a partnership, as well as a helpful reminder to seasoned managers.
What I particularly liked about the book is the structure. As a guide, it is clear, accessible and the regular smattering of colourful “Top Tip” boxes provides quick snippets of information. Each succinct chapter concludes with a brief summary, so a time-poor reader could speedily gather key details. The book also felt balanced, dispensing advice to corporates and charities alike.
Although briefly referencing cross-sector partnerships is not always the appropriate path, I felt the book would have had greater integrity if this had received a little more attention. It also felt slightly repetitive in parts and could have benefitted from some less obvious examples of partnership activity. However, rich examples have been included and where partnerships have been particularly innovative, this provides a stimulating account.
Practitioners will find the text encouraging, particularly the honest insights into the challenges of partnership. Those new to corporate-charity engagement will not feel overwhelmed, but comforted by an accessible and well-structured guide.
Overall, Corporates are from Mars, Charities are from Venus is an interesting read and one could imagine skimming through the book for practical advice often.
Andrea Grace Rannard, CSR International