Ive been immersed in client work and also facilitated a one-day workshop last week to help people in the non-profit sector build more effective partnerships with corporations.
While work has kept me off the blog, the good news is that Ive got lots of fodder for comment. As a start here are three areas that Ive been talking about with clients and others over the last few weeks.
Corporate-NGO Partnerships:One the one hand, its clearer than ever that the best way for corporations to communicate their CR efforts is with and through NGO partners. Non-profits have the credibility and issue knowledge to give stakeholder communications a degree of impact and authenticity than would be difficult to achieve otherwise.
On the other hand, Im not actually aware of very many effective partnerships. If awareness of these partnerships is an indication of their success, most corporations arent doing a very good job. We just completed some new research that was striking for just how unaware consumers are of corporate-NGO partnerships.
Tie In with Business Operations:We all know that vision needs to drive mission, mission needs to drive strategy, and strategy needs to drive tactics. It follows that corporate responsibility should first have relevance and meaning at the highest level then cascade down throughout a corporation. However, in my experience this is seldom the case.
It seems equally effective (and often more realistic) to first integrate corporate responsibility at an operational level (often starting with a specific functional area) as needed to demonstrate its business value. Once established and evaluated, it can be moved into other functional areas and then migrated to a higher strategic level. Ultimately, a corporations brand and reputation will have more differentiation because it has a stronger foundation of doing the right thing where it matters most at an operational level.
Internal Communications:In large corporations, ineffectiveness of internal communications combined is ubiquitous. This, combined with the pressures that most managers are under to deliver more with less in a shorter time, means that internal awareness of corporate responsibility programs is usually very low.
What will it take to improve internal communications? What can be done to make corporate responsibility more conspicuous? Not easy questions to answer. I think the starting point (and one of the biggest gaps today) is in HR territory – corporate responsibility needs to be clearly integrated into job functions and into performance evaluation.