A crisis is a terrible thing to waste
I’ve been talking with many citizenship colleagues over the past several weeks to hear more about how they are responding to the increased pressures brought on by the global financial crisis. And what I’ve found is that, while everyone is feeling the stress, the majority are seeing and taking advantage of the new opportunities that the crisis has created to change and enhance their corporate citizenship activities.
One of many themes that keeps coming up in these conversations is the importance of how we react to the changing times. Is it a time to keep quiet, and hope the storm will pass? No!
I believe that now is the time to change our attitude – we must be on the offense, not the defense. It is as much about how we behave, as it is what we do. Now, more than ever, we should “show up at the table” confident, responsive and ready to talk about solutions. Not with sweeping generalizations, but with tangible outcomes that are valuable to the people and organizations that you are speaking with. Like line operators, we need to move forward and make it work.
Thinking like “an operator,” we must not waste this chance to review the strategies, programs and initiatives that we manage. It’s a landscape of change – so to think that our responsibilities and expectation won’t change is probably shortsighted. Let’s use this opportunity to gain focus and draft behind the new tailwinds rising from issues like civic engagement, the environmental practices, and others.
So, I ask you: in the light of this crisis, how must corporate citizenship professionals act and what can we do to provide the greatest value? I’d love hear your thoughts, experiences, and questions. And I invite you to join me and other Center Advisory Board members Dan Bross of Microsoft, Rose Flenorl of Federal Express, and Harriet Hentges of Ahold, in this on-going dialogue at the Stress Test for Corporate Citizenship session at the International Corporate Citizenship Conference on March 29-30. We’ll talk about how the crisis has created the chance for these panelists to respond to their companies’ needs in new ways; how the role of corporate citizenship and our role as professionals may be changing; and how we can leverage the opportunities the crisis creates.
I’m looking forward to a lively dialogue, and hope you’ll take part by attending, or by making your comments here.
Rick Martella is vice president of Corporate Affairs at ARAMARK and a member of the Boston College Center’s Advisory Board.