Yes, positioning the right person as the board chair is key. Because the chair has the greatest influence on how the board uses its time in meetings and in between meetings, who will be on the board, and who will be groomed for future leadership.
I have seen organizations rise or fall, depending on the board chair's effectiveness. Even the most extraordinary nonprofit CEO cannot achieve the enterprise's fullest potential without a good board chair.
Picture a greenhouse on a sunny day. The sun’s rays pass through the panes of glass in the ceiling, flooding the greenhouse with light. Those same panes of glass act as insulation, trapping the heated air within the greenhouse’s walls. On a summer’s day, a greenhouse can quickly become hot, humid, and uncomfortable.
When I was a freshman in college, I rallied a group of new friends from my dorm to go volunteer one afternoon. It was early in the school year, and I wanted to prove to my hall-mates that community service was a fun, easy, low-impact sort of way to give back and feel good. Minimal commitment, quick pay-off, done-in-a-day – a perfect fit for college students!
In training and placing business executives and professionals on nonprofit boards, I see which board environments motivate people to perform their best, and which environments crush the spirit right out of well-meaning, enthusiastic, and generous board members.
We all know that the business value of cause marketing is directly proportional to the degree to which stakeholders know about the cause program. However, all too often corporations are leery of broadcasting their cause initiatives because they’re afraid of being seen as inauthentic by skeptical consumers.
Businesses have an equal responsibility to the environment. In the quest to “take while you can and no thought of the future,” businesses have seen profits and then folded when the heat was on due to illegal acts. (Take your pick or examine the coal mining business.) With multiple sites on the net that promote awareness to the environment and how beautiful it is, plus the benefits of reduce, reuse, recycle – why, oh why are profits still so important? Are businesses banks? Nope. They just want a piece of the pie and willing to justify a means to an end.
Strategic communication for business will be critical as President Obama ushers in a new green vision for America and the world.
“We will move forward with investments to transform our energy economy, while providing incentives to make clean energy the profitable kind of energy. We will press ahead with deep cuts in emissions to reach the goals that we set for 2020, and eventually 2050. We will continue to promote renewable energy and efficiency, and share new technologies with countries around the world. And we will seize every opportunity for progress to address this threat in a cooperative effort with the entire world." - From President Barack Obama’s Address to the United Nations General Assembly, September 23, 2009
As mentioned in my previous post, President Obama is ushering in a new green vision for America and the world. Each company will need to take a close look at its current strategy, and determine where, when and how it makes sense to introduce or expand environmental sustainability programs, partnerships, policies and processes into its operations. But in terms of strategic communication and stakeholder outreach in support of business goals, there are some clear and deliberate actions that every company, regardless of size or sector, should be actively considering.
Perhaps you’ve heard. New York’s iconic landmark, The Empire State Building, is undergoing a radical transformation: a $550 million renovation incorporating a comprehensive energy efficiency retrofit. The highly-publicized project is projected to save 38 percent of the building’s energy, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 105,000 metric tons over the next 15 years and lower building costs by $4.4 million annually. That makes the building’s tenants happy, and it’s also good for the City of New York.
A whopping 65 to 70 percent of New York City’s carbon emissions are projected to come from buildings, whereas very few examples of pre-war commercial building energy retrofits exist anywhere in the United States. That means the Empire State Building is literally clearing a path for thousands of other buildings to follow. It happens to be doing so with a visible commitment to the principles behind the sustainability movement – people, planet and profit.
In an effort to build stakeholder advocacy and encourage more commercial buildings to initiate similar energy retrofit initiatives, owner Anthony Malkin of Empire State Building Company has made a remarkable commitment to transparency. He has decided that the company will share all of the new processes and technology it develops and lessons it learns during the retrofit with the public. “It is my hope that people will be able to take a look at what we did here and be able to replicate the process,” he says.
A couple of weeks ago, the folks I follow on Twitter (a terrific bunch of CSR and social enterprise experts) were all abuzz about a New York Times article that told the story of a young woman from Minnesota. What was all the fuss?
Well, it turns out that this woman, 22 year-old Stephanie Smith, ate a bad hamburger – made from E.coli-laden beef – and it paralyzed her.