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August 27, 2013
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Home » Blogs » kgilliam's blog » COMMIT!Forum 2012 Video Interviews


Over 600 CEOs, heads of corporate responsibility, sustainability, investment analysts, NGO and government leaders, and academics gathered in New York City in October to attend the COMMIT!Forum where thety discussed the future of corporate responsibility and the challenges their companies facd when trying to implement CSR initiatives. Following the forum, attendees offered their comments and reflections and talked about their biggest "Aha" moment from the forum.  You can view the videos here.


Naturally, comments differ in character, but most attendees agreed on three important points regarding the place of CSR in the corporate world.


1) CSR is hard but worthwhile: Richard Crespin, COMMIT!Forum Chair notes that CSR becomes more worthwhile when “companies use it to reduce cost or create new value,” seeing it as essential for companies to create shared value, partnering with NGOs or government, to drive benefit for their customers and shareholders through the CSR initiatives and commitments they make. What makes CSR hard, however, is that it puts the company in a position where it becomes vulnerable, open to the judgment of others. CSR opens a conversation that the company might not be ready for. Yet, it forces the companies to create mutually beneficial relationship with their communities and the environment. Attendees agreed that Vulnerability can be beneficial; as Greg Netzer, AHA!’s Managing Director for Corporate Responsibility says, “it might be the only way to create changes.”


2) CSR offers competitive advantage: CSR is “a passport for all the companies who want to become global today,” says Niko Avlonas, Founder and President of the Centre for Sustainability and Excellence. Other attendees echoed this thought, sharing how responsibility brings innovation, a greater degree of trustworthiness, and transparency.


3) NGO-Corporate partnerships are important: A number of attendees talked about how CSR has brought together NGOs and corporations that share a common goal, where they need each other to fulfill this effectively. While corporations offer expertise, funding and equipment, NGOs have “on-the-ground experience” that corporations may lack. By coming together, NGOs and corporations will learn from each other and develop successful sustainable projects.


In order to create real value for future generations, corporations will have to fundamentally change the way they do business, looking beyond maximization of shareholder value and self-interest to consider the larger context in their priorities. The COMMIT!Forum provides an opportunity for this multi-stakeholder community to discuss the challenges and share the success stories. Corporations can meet with potential NGO partners to identify causes in line with their business and ensure that these programs deliver the objectives that have been set for them, changing the world for the better.

View the full set of video interviews here.

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