Is Corporate Citizenship Measuring Up: The Latest Data

A new survey of trends in corporate citizenship in Silicon Valley reveals a distinct change in recent years. The 2010 Corporate Citizenship Report, a collaborative project of the Entrepreneurs Foundation and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, also makes comparisons between Silicon Valley practices and national trends, as reported by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy in their 2008 report, Giving in Numbers.

I've been monitoring the valuable surveys that have been taking the pulse of CSR trends since they were first conducted in the early 2000's. When I began consulting to corporations on CSR and publishing best practices in the early 1990's, the field of CSR was a new frontier.

The benefits to companies engaging in robust corporate citizenship programs still hold since the early 90's. Companies that were the earliest adopters recognized the opportunities to develop leadership, facilitate team-building, enhance an appreciation of diversity, foster loyalty to the company and a sense of community, build visibility and the brand, as well as good will, and strengthen communities.

And the key principles for establishing corporate citizenship programs that maximize the win-win-win for the company, employees, and the community continue to be the same almost 20 years later: having leadership from the CEO; aligning the company's corporate citizenship program with the corporate mission; engaging employees in choosing causes that they care about for their volunteer service; integrating human resources, public relations, marketing, and other relevant departments in implementing corporate citizenship; and measuring and reporting on program results.

What is new and different over the past few years, as shown by the 2010 Corporate Citizenship Report, is the addition of sustainability as a key element in any corporate citizenship program. According to the report, "Sustainability, the integration of people and planet into a company's purpose, is on the radar for 73% of the respondents and becoming more important...Environmental initiatives are saving money for companies and consumers, while environmentally conscientious companies are favorably perceived both in the marketplace and by prospective employees."

What I am waiting and hoping to see in future survey results is that companies are beginning to make nonprofit board service a key element of their corporate citizenship programs. It will be good to see companies establish formal, professional programs to encourage and support their executives to serve on nonprofit boards, after being fully trained, and carefully matched to boards, based on candidates' interests and qualifications. In this way, businesses can make a powerful contribution to advance global, national, and regional nonprofits, while also providing extraordinary leadership development opportunities for company personnel. By integrating philanthropy, volunteerism, nonprofit board service, and management/technical assistance to nonprofits (also known as skilled volunteering, or pro bono), businesses will have the full package of services to strengthen communities, while giving their employees a wide variety of ways to participate in meaningful ways.

Keep those surveys coming. It's exciting to see hard data on the forward progress and momentum of CSR.


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  • pamelahawley

    Alice, thank you so much for an excellent, clear summary. I, too, started out in CSR in the early 1990s and it's wonderful to see it progress and become established so beautifully.

    I'd like to draw out two important points which may be helpful to readers and CSR practitioners. One is the importance of Global CSR, and within that, the importance of a local license to operate.

    It’s good to have the company’s executive leadership on international CSR from the start, if possible. Often someone in the U.S. decides what the goals are from a headquarter perspective. It’s important to start from this position, but to not end there. The second part of the planning process is to make sure that local offices are included, all over the world. The key here is listening.

    What are their needs?
    What are they experiencing in this country?
    What are they seeing in their local community?

    What are local employees, in different international communities, experiencing? Perhaps an employeee in India walks by the slums everyday on the way to work. She might like to support a soup kitchen. Gaining the confidence and enthusiasm of employees who see the company is listening is the first step towards attaining a Local License to Operate.

    This is not a paper or an official license, and it isn’t ‘issued’ from an entity, institution, the government or a third party company. This type of license is only obtained by having the company build relationships, on multiple levels, in an ethical manner.

    Who are the important government officials? How do they view investments of any kind, donations, volunteering, product donations, cause-related marketing in the community? What is important to them and their local constituents? Making the outreach will show the company cares to include them in how it establishes itself, both through its profit making center, and its community-minded investments.

    I hope this is helpful, and you may also be interested in a more extensive discussion on this subject on my blog ( Thank you again for your article!

    Pamela Hawley
    Founder and CEO

    Living and Giving blog