Boston College will play host this week to corporate managers from around the world for the Corporate Citizenship Management Intensive Program, run by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship based in the Carroll School of Management (CSOM).
From today through Friday, managers specifically responsible for executing responsible business practices within their respective organizations will attend lectures, analyze case studies, and participate in small group activities to enhance their skills in developing strategies for corporate citizenship, according to the center’s website.
Dean of CSOM Andy Boynton, lecturer within the marketing department Bridget Akinc, and professor of organizational studies Mary Ann Glynn, as well as other members of the CSOM faculty, are among those who instruct managers who seek the center’s services. They are joined by several teaching fellows and the center’s executive director and part-time CSOM faculty member, Katherine V. Smith.
The concept of corporate citizenship that the program and the center, in general, focus on emphasizes compliance with the spirit of the law, ethics, and international norms. The center conducts primary research on its member companies’ fields and provides advisory services on how those companies can better their business practices to reflect high standards of corporate citizenship.
Founded in 1985 as the Center for Corporate Community Relations, the re-named Center for Corporate Citizenship was created in response to changing community expectations of corporations’ social responsibility. The driving force behind the center’s formation was Edmund Burke, dean of the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) from 1971 to 1976 and GSSW ’56. An expert in community planning and domestic policy, Burke also served in the White House in the Jimmy Carter administration before founding the center.
A concept that Burke originated and infused into the center’s mindset is that of “neighbor of choice,” meaning that a company must build trust within its neighborhood by, for example, having its workers participate in local events and fundraisers. In doing so, it aims to establish a positive relationship with the community and earn a metaphorical “license to operate.”
In addition to direct advising services, the center offers the opportunity for its 400-member companies—embodying over 10,000 individuals that the center engages per year—to network and collaborate on best practices in corporate citizenship.
Member companies can also come together to improve their skills and learn about the latest developments in the field at a number of regional conferences and programs that the center sponsors, including the one taking place at BC this week.
The center’s website notes that its strength lies in being a “one-stop resource for professionals seeking information and insights that will help companies achieve maximum business and social value from their environmental, social, and governance investments.”
The facets of a business’s strategy on which the center focuses include connecting corporate citizenship to the goal of sustainable corporate development, assessing organizational culture, critiquing current methods of reporting corporate citizenship performance, and evaluating corporate citizenship communication techniques.
Beyond specialized research projects for individual member companies, the center also conducts a biennial survey on the attitudes of business executives toward corporate citizenship and releases a State of Corporate Citizenship Report. According to the center’s website, the most recent report—released in 2012—found that companies aligning corporate citizenship strategy with their overall corporate strategy were more likely to achieve key business objectives, and projects related to environmental sustainability are becoming a central funding priority for many companies.