Where Companies Need to Lead: Trust, Metrics, Social Change

Annual Corporate Service Council Meeting brings the latest challenges and solutions to the forefront

Feb 20, 2020

With every milestone anniversary comes the impulse to reconnect with the older versions of plans and events, ground the current views to the past and strengthen the future mandate. In 2020 Points of Light marks the 15th Anniversary of our Corporate Service Council, as well as Points of Light’s 30th anniversary.

Just last week in New York, at the home of our host AT&T/WarnerMedia, we celebrated with over 100 council members and guests at our annual meeting of members. It was amazing to see how far we have come – from a small office of President George H.W. Bush to a global organization working with hundreds of nonprofits and corporations across 37 countries.

As our council members gathered together, everyone was buzzing with what this new decade could hold for the future of social impact.

Couple that with the news from the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, with international brands and their leaders articulating a renewed understanding of the multiple stakeholders, including planet earth, whose needs must be addressed to truly have sustainable business value. The days of volunteerism as t-shirts and a few hours with paintbrushes are long gone. Business is leaning in with all assets to redefine the responsibility of the private sector.

This year’s CSC meeting affirmed that the ESG, CSR, Citizenship and Employee Engagement leaders in the room are squarely at the center of that change. As the primary connectors of their brands and employees to communities and social challenges, they are being called upon to deliver on the awakening of business to its expanded role.

The mandate for this change is pushed and shaped each year by the tremendous work of the Edelman Trust Barometer, the annual measure of the individual’s expectations on business, government, nonprofits and the media. We were incredibly grateful to welcome Matt Harrington, President and COO of Edelman who shared the key insights from the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer. He shared the framework for what would become the synthesizing message for the summit:

Matthew Harrington, president and COO, Edelman presents 2020 Trust Barometer.

Trust has to be earned through ethical action, partnership across sectors and realized commitments. Employees, customers and communities expect that CEOs will lead social issues and are ready to take change into their own hands when they sense a lack of authenticity and action.

Measuring and reporting on the value of this social purpose mandate, putting the “S” in ESG, was another significant theme addressed in the meeting, with a panel including: Catherine Blades, Aflac Senior Vice President, Chief ESG and Communications Officer; Jason Leiker, AT&T Associate Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility; and Marc Siegel, EY partner in the Financial Accounting Advisory Services (FAAS), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Sector Chair for Resource Transformation. A leading take away for businesses?:

As stakeholders and shareholders turn their attention to how companies deliver on social goals and commitments, articulating what metrics represent in the work of the company and the value to shareholders is an increasingly complex topic. Defining common metrics that can be reported within industries and across sectors and retaining the authentic value of a company’s own purpose story for a broader audience of internal and external stakeholders are just some of the metrics companies seek to understand.

We look forward to continuing to provide information and opportunities for engagement through our Council and partners like CECP.

Points of Light President & CEO Natalye Paquin (left) and Chief Civic Innovation Officer Jenny Lawson (right) welcome new Corporate Service Council Chair, Charlene Lake, AT&T (center).

A chance to test the power of business to lead social change and address challenges was called into action by Don Lowery, Nielsen Senior Vice President, Community Engagement, who shared updates and materials from their newly announced TrueCount initiative. He urged leaders to share information and materials with their employees to participate in the upcoming 2020 Census against fears of a significant undercount. A representative census count is essential to providing resources, a voice and a representation for communities. You can find here census partner materials, promotional content and press kits to make sure your company is stepping up to this challenge.

As we create a world in which every person and every business has the power to create a world where it is impossible to sit on the sidelines of change, we look forward to working with you to help you and your company mobilize.

They say “be careful what you wish for”, but we think it’s time to be care-full. This is the moment we have been waiting for.

Jennifer Lawson, Chief Civic Innovation Officer

Jennifer Lawson is the Chief Civic Innovation Officer at Points of Light. She leads forward-thinking initiatives, partnerships and campaigns with leading brands to advance social change in the corporate sector.

Jenny Lawson