Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.
TriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.
Alice Korngold: I am President and CEO of Korngold Consulting. Together with members of my team, I assist companies in establishing NGO/nonprofit board-matching programs that help them to achieve their objectives for corporate growth and profits through leadership development, stakeholder engagement and productive NGO/nonprofit partnerships. We also train and place corporate executives on NGO/nonprofit boards of directors based on each individual’s interests and qualifications and the needs of each NGO/nonprofit.
Additionally, we consult to the boards of directors of global, national, and regional NGOs/nonprofits—including addressing board composition, recruitment, and leadership succession planning—to advance NGOs/nonprofits in achieving their greater ambitions and long-term sustainability.
I’ve been working in CSR since 1993, when I founded, built and ran a social enterprise in Cleveland, Ohio to provide CSR advisory services to corporations, in addition to nonprofit board-matching services for over 1,000 corporate executives and board development services to several hundred nonprofits. Our organization also trained and advised leadership programs in other cities, throughout the country, seeking to replicate our nonprofit board-matching model, which was financially self-sustaining through fees for services.
In 2005, I returned home to NYC to establish a consulting firm to provide CSR and board-matching services to global corporations, and nonprofit board consulting services to global, national, and regional NGOs/nonprofits.
I published numerous CSR and board governance chapters and articles since the early 90s, followed by two books. The first book was Leveraging Good Will: Strengthening Nonprofits by Engaging Businesses (Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Imprint, 2005). The second, quite recently, is A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?
AK: Through experience: Our approach with each client, whether for-profit or nonprofit, is to help them to envision their greatest potential—often gathering input from a variety of stakeholders. Then we assist our clients in finding innovative ways to maximize success; to do so, we often help to facilitate partnerships between companies and NGOs/nonprofits, stakeholder engagement, and effective board governance.
Success for each company is defined by its ability to reduce costs, mitigate risks, increase profits, and build long term value. Success for each NGO/nonprofit is defined by its ability to achieve its mission, while building financial sustainability. Both for-profits and NGOs/nonprofits achieve the best results, strategically and financially, by finding solutions to the world’s greatest challenges—economic, social, and environmental.
Through research: Based on research for chapters and articles as well as for my recent book, A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot. Our research shows that leading companies are profiting by solving the world’s greatest economic, social, and environmental problems. Additionally, our research reveals that corporate-NGO partnerships, stakeholder engagement, and effective board governance are essential for success.
Our consulting experience and research informs how we develop and deliver services to help our clients to achieve their highest aspirations.
3p: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey, and how.
AK: There isn’t one person. Rather, my sustainability journey has been and continues to be deeply affected by the many business and NGO/nonprofit people with whom I work, not only in a consulting capacity, but also in the context of blogging. Blogging is merely a sideline for me, a voluntary activity to learn about and showcase companies and NGOs/nonprofits that are modeling best practices in corporate-NGO partnerships or board governance. Many of the best examples have come out of the annual meetings of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which I’ve been covering for Fast Company since 2008, and where I’ve ultimately had the opportunity to be a moderator and panelist.
The sustainability journey is really about trying to understand the challenges and opportunities facing the companies and NGOs/nonprofits with which I work, and helping them to find ways to work together to solve global problems. The best solutions benefit companies and NGOs in achieving success, while also helping to build a better world.
3p: What is the best advice you have ever received?
AK: Inspirational words I remember often were spoken by Reverend Peter J. Gomes in June 1997:
“God, grant me work until my life is over, and life until my work is done.”
3p: Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?
AK: The publication of A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) represents the culmination of 20+ years of CSR consulting experience in addition to an intense period of research and learning to prepare the book.
3p: If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?
AK: The biggest change I’d like to see is greater diversity on the boards of multinational corporations: having people with diverse backgrounds, perspectives nationalities, gender, and cultures, as well as a variety of areas of expertise and experience. When that is achieved, companies will truly unleash their greatest potential in profiting by solving global problems.
3p: Describe your perfect day.
AK: In a perfect work day, I am meeting with the board of directors of an NGO/nonprofit where our work together is culminating in their decision to transition to new approaches to achieve more ambitious goals. At lunch, I am meeting with the leadership of a multinational corporation where our work together is culminating in their decision to invest in an NGO/nonprofit board matching program that will support the company in achieving its ambitious plans for growth. In the afternoon, I’m speaking passionately to a group of corporate and NGO/nonprofit leaders about A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot to reinforce their work together and encourage them to forge ahead. In the evening, I’m having drinks with a corporate executive whom I placed on an NGO board two years prior to discuss her decision to step up to become chair of the board.