This week marked our second GivingForum event. We gathered senior Corporate Responsibility professionals and some inspiring speakers to discuss how to reach that Gold standard of leadership in the field.

The event kicked off with a look at the pioneering research of EY’s Head of CSR Beth Knight. Beth’s research develops a model of five core behavioural competencies identified as being of central significance for sustainability leaders to work effectively. In brief: Results Driven, Visionary Thinker, Change Agent, Inclusive Operator, Ethically Oriented. Please click here for the full report.

Beth’s insights prompted some lively debate with discussion groups delving into inter-generational differences: why are millennials more rounded? What caused Generation X to excel in particular competencies? Are these differences entrenched, or will symmetrical Gen Y come to resemble their more specialised counterparts, as circumstance and opportunity shape them?

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The groups further explored the equitable findings of the research (which found competencies to be, on average, of equal importance) by pondering the life-stages of an organisation: questioning whether early-years organisations should perhaps leave the Visionary Thinking to their more established older siblings.

Next up was Rachel Quinn of Barclays Citizenship, who took us on a journey of Responsible Employee Behaviour. It was time to get into the nitty gritty of running a CSR programme: how to Make Things Happen up and down the organisation. Topics discussed include: the most effective internal comms strategies; whether reporting encourages healthy competition or takes the ‘voluntary’ out of Volunteering; how to activate a Champions Network (and keep it active); how to get the most out of a CSR strategy and not restrict colleagues’ flexibility.

To round up, a Bigger Picture talk from Isabel Kelly, Founder and Principal Consultant at Profit with Purpose, who previously established the international Salesforce Foundation. Isabel addressed a room of ‘in-betweeners’, indicating the vital role that Sustainability Leaders and CSR professionals play in linking the Private and 3rd Sectors. This talk certainly reminded us why we do what we do: Isabel Kelly’s portfolio of ground-breaking innovation demonstrates how Social Responsibility does not have to sit on the sideline, forever an optional extra, but can be built into the foundations of a corporation.

 

Looking back on another GivingForum, the wealth of expertise in the room was certainly reflected in the sheer productivity of discussions: 3 Inspirational leaders, 36 forward-thinking professionals, so where is CSR heading in 2016? From this room came not a flicker of an inclination to settle on the sideline: it’s time to make business work for society.

For those of you who would like to look at the topics and questions covered in more depth, the notes can be downloaded here.

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