Corporate Citizenship: Getting it Right in Today’s Global Economy

I'm here in Minneapolis to attend the 2011 Corporate Citizenship Conference sponsored by Boston College's Center for Corporate Citizenship.  Microsoft is proud to be one of the conference sponsors again this year and I am honored to have been asked to participate on a panel today to try and answer the question: "How in the World Do You Handle Global Corporate Citizenship?" The panel was facilitated by Ron Brown, one of the Center's faculty members and I was  joined l by Anne Roosevelt, my counterpart at The Boeing Company and Katherine Woerner from the global citizenship team at Abbott Laboratories.

The Center has promised conference participants four takeaways - knowledge, solutions, best practices and connections.  So, in thinking about our panel conversation today I keeping those take aways in mind as we share experiences, insights and learnings.

First, let me say, global corporate citizenship is an art - not a science!  Having said that, there are a number of key things we have learned in building a global Citizenship program:

1) One size does not fit all.  To be effective, a company's global citizenship program must provide local flexibility to ensure that the strategy reflects cultural norms and addresses local social and economic priorities.  While my team and I are responsible for developing Microsoft's annual global corporate citizenship strategy, that strategy is localized by our Citizenship teams in our over 100 subsidiaries worldwide.

2) Focus, focus, focus.  Don't try to boil the ocean.  It is about the quality of the program outcomes, not the quantity of random programs.

3) Empower and support your colleagues on the front lines.  Those of us with corporate jobs should be focused on providing our colleagues in the field with the tools and resources they need to do their jobs and then get out of their way!

I also shared a few other Microsoft citizenship best practices - including our quarterly citizenship business review calls; our monthly global citizenship connection calls; and the annual gathering of our global citizenship community.  

Microsoft is all about bringing the benefits of technology to people around the world and that is what we have done in the area of global corporate citizenship.  From our Microsoft Local Impact Map  that provides rich visualization of the outcomes our citizenship work has in individual countries, to a range of tools we use internally to support our global colleagues.  We are using technology solutions to communicate, inform, empower and manage.

Once again this year the BCCCC conference presents rich opportunities for best practice sharing.   This conference and our work in Citizenship is all about connections.  My team and I get a great opportunity to connect with our colleagues and we learn together.  We exchange knowledge and share best practices.  A large part of my job is also about connecting externally - connecting with stakeholders - including industry partners, shareholders, advocacy groups, and non-profits.

Having just attended an array of sessions today, I can say with 100% certainly - the Center is delivering on its "take aways" promise.

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