CEOs as Corporate Citizen Chiefs
Interested in building and protecting your corporate reputation? Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship , along with support from The Hitachi Foundation , issued its fourth 2009 State of Corporate Citizenship report. The report provides valuable insights from nearly 800 U.S. senior executives about their attitudes and perceptions on the value of corporate citizenship. Rightfully so, the authors preface the report by describing the difficult year that faced senior executives and the high expectations about continuing their support of corporate responsibility and giving initiatives. The good news is that nearly half of the executives surveyed believe that corporate citizenship is even more important in tough times and kept up their corporate citizenship efforts. Boston College Center says that this finding underscores how corporate citizenship has passed the value test. What do executives mean when they report on corporate citizenship? To them there are three important areas — ethical business practices (91%), treating employees well (81%) and accurate financial management reporting (76%).
When it comes to reputation, we have known for some time that reputations are enhanced when a company’s words match its actions in the corporate responsibility space. Also, Weber Shandwick’s Safeguarding Reputation research found that companies with better corporate citizenship track records recovered their reputations faster than those with poorer corporate citizenship records.
Interesting to me is that the survey found that CEOs are now leading the corporate citizenship agenda in three out of four companies. Understandably and not surprisingly, CEOs recognize that their reputations need improvement and corporate citizenship is one way to communicate to employees and other stakeholders that they are concerned about doing the right thing. The survey also identified REPUTATION as the number one driver of corporate citizenship (70% for all executives, 82% for large-company executives). Reputation shares that top spot for the first time with company traditions and values.
Reputation is increasingly becoming a driving force in shaping company and leadership action. That can only be viewed as a positive. Glad to hear that senior executives agree.