Ann M. Charles wants senior management to realizethat the economic collapse has changed the culture of leadership forever.Founder of BRANDfog and producer of the upcoming Great Leaders Conference, shefirmly believes that for companies to be successful, they must embrace socialmedia while recognizing that corporate responsibility is no longer a vague,idealistic concept.Having spent almost 20 years in marketing and witnessedfirsthand a pervading sense of short-termism across corporate America, Charles startedBRANDfog in 2009 to address this gap and offers social media and CSR advisoryservices to CEOs.
Part of her endeavor is an exclusive, by-invitation-onlyevent called the Great Leaders Conference: Corporate Social Responsibility andLeadership for a Responsible World. We sat down for a chat about theconference, scheduled for October in New York City, her mission for BRANDfog,and what her interactions with management reveals about their attitude towardCSR.
"On a broader level, this is not aCSR conference. It is the Great Leaders conference because it aims to highlighta cultural change among leadership. Leadership is changing on a number offronts and very quickly, in a way that CEOs are really struggling with. Forexample, social media has blown the doors off the closed corporate culture,where customers want to know what the company stands for, what the CEO believesin, what the core values of the organization are, etc. In a way, companies canno longer control their messaging. There is a two-way exchange that can't beignored today.
Another important factor is the economic collapse.It has made society, as a whole, start to think. A lot of people are talkingabout the failure of the markets and foresight. Fundamentally though, it's a failure of leadership, it's about thinkingabout short term profits. That is a difficult thing that CEOs have to address.
They're also under a lot of pressure because veryoften they get shut down for introducing things that are long term in nature.Investors are not ready to hear that message yet, but I feel we're at a tippingpoint now where that is starting to be more acceptable. Companies are starting totalk about the work that they are doing outside the realm of profitability andtaxes."
For the complete interview, visit Vault'sCorporate Social Responsibility section.
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