A Seat at the Table for CR

posted by Boyd Neil

(By Madeline Turnock, vice president at Hill & Knowlton NW in Portland, Oregon)  

The old adage is true that if you’re going to make change happen, you first need a seat at the table.

Hill & Knowlton (H&K) is providing the table, and we’d like to invite you to take a seat.  Topic: corporate responsibility (CR).  We’re taking the initiative to educate and engage our colleagues and clients on the topic, by way of this blog, research and special events.

In just one example, H&K recently released the results of a global cleantech survey of 420 senior business decision-makers, titled “Return on Environment.”  Then, business leaders were invited to the table to discuss, digest and, ultimately, take CR action steps.

Among the research findings, 65 percent of the executives polled said their firm has not yet defined an energy strategy, but many of these are working on expanding their executive suites to include a chief energy officer (CNO).

Most recently, in the San Francisco and Portland markets, company executives joined roundtable forums to share insights into their firms’ CR and environmental practices.

Nik Blosser, publisher of Sustainable Industries Journal, led one such roundtable discussion in Portland last month.  Among the attendees were executives from key local organizations including the Portland Development Commission, enXco, Torrent Energy, Metro Regional Government, and the Department of Environmental Quality.

Sustainable Industries Journal editor’s column accurately highlights Hill & Knowlton’s position on cleantech this way, in the editor’s own words:

“I like how Hill & Knowlton defines cleantech to include ‘a broad range of technological solutions designed to reduce or eliminate negative environmental impact while offering significant financial returns and economic sustainability.’ The firm, which publicly states a refusal to “greenwash” its credentials or those of its clients, reports, ‘We are now set to embark on … a “green” revolution whose impact will go far beyond the energy industry as transportation, manufacturing and agriculture will all have a major stake in the changing environment.’”

Read the full article.

So, now what can you do to make sure that a corporate responsibility champion has a seat at the table?

Here are a few simple first steps:

  • Identify individuals to be the organization’s CR champions and set up a regular gathering.
  • Gather, assess and benchmark the organization’s current corporate responsibility-related efforts. 
  • Identify a short-term, mini-project that can demonstrate traction and success.
  • Share that success story – and more – to begin developing internal support and traction for a new organizational culture that values and strives for CR.
  • Incorporate CR into one person’s job description and evaluation.

On another note, if you don’t have a table, please join ours at Hill & Knowlton.  Corporate responsibility is what we’re doing – all day, every day.

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