By Patsy Doerr
As global head of corporate responsibility and inclusion for Thomson Reuters, I can proudly say, “I’m over doing good.”
These critical issues: diversity and inclusion, sustainability, gender, corporate social responsibility and philanthropy, which were once delegated as HR issues or a ‘nice to have’ are no longer optional. Pushing the corporate responsibility and inclusion (CR&I) agenda forward is quickly being recognized, across all levels of an organization, as key to profitability and long-term growth. It’s no longer about ‘doing good.’
Your core stakeholders care deeply about these issues. Customers, investors, analysts, employees -- and, more importantly, your future customers, investors, analysts and employees -- want to partner with, invest in and work for companies that are moving the agenda forward.
Socially responsible investing is on the rise, with firms set up specifically to invest in companies that behave ethically. The issues of gender and diversity are being discussed at the World Economic Forum, as study after study comes out saying that the more diverse your organization is, the likelier you are you be profitable and succeed over the long term.
Why are more and more firms putting women on their corporate boards? Because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do? No! Because studies show that companies with diverse corporate boards are at less risk and drive bottom line growth.
- Investors and analysts: Their clients are increasingly seeing new research and stats that indicate that companies with diverse employee populations perform better. And, by the way, diversity no longer means male or female. Diversity means gender, sex, orientation, culture, religion, race, style, approach, thought … I could go on. Diverse employee populations are creative, bringing new ideas to the table and helping to build innovative cultures that thrive in every market cycle. These are the companies best suited for long term growth and that make the best long-term partners.
- Customers: Customers want to work with companies that will be around for the long-term. Investing in sustainability, in a diverse and talented workforce and driving a progressive agenda all mean that a company has its eye on the future. How do I know this matters to customers? Because I talk to them every day. Not only do they care about how we conduct our business, they want to learn best practices for themselves in these areas and are working continuously to improve their own stats and metrics. We now all understand the value this is generating and are working tirelessly to improve in all areas.
- Millennials: Millennials are your future employees. They are your next wave of top talent and your customers of tomorrow. Millennials are the first generation to grow up with the idea of corporate social responsibility as mainstream, and they expect companies to behave in an ethical manner and in ways that protect and improve the environment and the communities in which they operate. Moreover, study after study shows that millennials want to care about their work and believe they are making a difference through their professional lives. They want to be proud of what they do and who they work for. In today’s media-centric world, where social media dominates and everyone has a video phone, transparency is more important than ever and companies are held to a higher standard. Commit to transparency and follow the rhetoric you preach and you will attract tomorrow’s leaders.
Getting it right
There are several key things that corporations can do to get this right. Engaging with senior leaders and building the business case for pushing the agenda forward is the first step towards building a successful CR&I program. A comprehensive strategy that is well articulated and measurable is essential for success. Educating managers and leaders at every level within the organization is critical — without their support, programs and policies will not be successful. Last, partnering with clients and customers on thought leadership opportunities, conferences and events is meaningful to build bridges, gain momentum and drive the change we need.
In conclusion, committing to rigorous CR&I objectives is no longer just about doing good. Focusing on these objectives is imperative to attract and retain top talent, to entice investors and forge strong relationships with customers. This is now about your bottom line growth and profitability. Companies that not only understand this, but push this forward, will be the stand out companies of tomorrow and the ones who miss the boat, well…you may not exist. I for one, will continue pushing and pushing until we no longer even need this as a hot topic because it’s so innate.
Image credit: Flickr/potential past
Patsy Doerr is the Global Head of Corporate Responsibility and Inclusion for Thomson Reuters. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing the company’s corporate social responsibility, diversity & inclusion and sustainability functions. Patsy has over 20 years of experience in talent, learning, organizational development, diversity and inclusion, employee recognition and customer engagement mainly in investment banking. She has held a number of global leadership roles at JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse, in New York, London and most recently, Hong Kong.