"The Economic Collapse, Fundamentally Is a Failure of Leadership"
Ann M. Charles wants senior management to realize that the economic collapse has changed the culture of leadership forever. Founder of BRANDfog and producer of the upcoming Great Leaders Conference, she firmly believes that for companies to be successful, they must embrace social media while recognizing that corporate responsibility is no longer a vague, idealistic concept.
Having spent almost 20 years in marketing and witnessed firsthand a pervading sense of short-termism across corporate America, Charles started BRANDfog in 2009 to address this gap and offers social media and CSR advisory services to CEOs.
Part of her endeavor is an exclusive, by-invitation-only event called the Great Leaders Conference: Corporate Social Responsibility and Leadership for a Responsible World. We sat down for a chat about the conference, scheduled for October in New York City, her mission for BRANDfog, and what her interactions with management reveals about their attitude toward CSR.
"On a broader level, this is not a CSR conference. It is the Great Leaders conference because it aims to highlight a cultural change among leadership. Leadership is changing on a number of fronts and very quickly, in a way that CEOs are really struggling with. For example, social media has blown the doors off the closed corporate culture, where customers want to know what the company stands for, what the CEO believes in, what the core values of the organization are, etc. In a way, companies can no longer control their messaging. There is a two-way exchange that can't be ignored today.
Another important factor is the economic collapse. It has made society, as a whole, start to think. A lot of people are talking about the failure of the markets and foresight. Fundamentally though, it's a failure of leadership, it's about thinking about short term profits. That is a difficult thing that CEOs have to address.
They're also under a lot of pressure because very often they get shut down for introducing things that are long term in nature. Investors are not ready to hear that message yet, but I feel we're at a tipping point now where that is starting to be more acceptable. Companies are starting to talk about the work that they are doing outside the realm of profitability and taxes."
For the complete interview, visit Vault's Corporate Social Responsibility section.