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I was at an event organized by the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York (BBB) today, where the topic of discussion was socially responsible strategies for engaging consumers and building your business. There were several great speakers, with CEO of Ernst & Young, James Turley giving the keynote address, who all brought unique industry perspective to the discussion on hand regarding corporate responsibility, brand management, sustainability and adding social value to your company.
Hotly discussed were issues like social media, and how the latest gaffes by BP, Goldman Sachs, and Nestle could have been managed better if corporate responsibility had been part of the respective companies' strategies. In his address, Mr. Turley discussed CSR in the background of the recent economic downturn as well as questions of ethical trust arising from the Goldman Sachs debacle. Key highlights from his speech:
On the difference between European and North American economies: "I heard a lot of talk at the World Economic Forum in Davos recently about the global growth market having failed. There is a huge difference in the worldviews of American and European businesses."
On the economic and industrial growth in India and China:"I think India might be the tortoise in the Tortoise and the Hare story. Although they are developing much slower than China, they have advantages like a democracy and the demographics that remain favorable to advances, as opposed to China, with its one-child policy."
On the need for CSR: "For me, this is a game-changing time for corporate responsibility and businesses and so this is a very prudent and aggressive investment right now."
On Ernst & Young's CSR initiatives: "Five years ago, we took a look inside and found out that we were scattered, very expensive with our initiatives and were having very low impact."
On a question from the audience regarding how they explain the ROI on CSR to clients: "We don't address it. Most clients get it."
Do they plan on discussing their CR policies and making it a requirement at the time of on-campus recruitment? "Our profession operates on trust. Addressing CR on campus interviews isn't the easiest thing to do."
On CR as a corporate function as opposed to an HR function: "We don’t think of it as a people function but an organizational function."
Tomorrow I will highlight in more detail the many key issues and trends discussed at the conference by Ogilvy CEO Christopher Graves in conversation with New York Times columnist Stuart Elliot; and Edelman's EVP for CSR and Sustainabaility Michael Holland, who shared survey data and conclusive information on how the field of corporate responsibility is becoming an important bottom line consideration for businesses.
Feel free to connect with me by leaving a comment, emailing In Good Company or connecting with me on Twitter @VaultCSR.
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