Caroline Hooley, National Grid’s Corporate Responsibility & Sponsorships Manager, showcased the company’s Shared Value approach at the world’s leading corporate citizenship conference. The event confirmed that our aim of aligning more closely with society to achieve common goals is matched by leading global brands.
Sharing our vision
“We share similar thoughts on the direction corporate responsibility needs to take. This includes the importance of having a long-term strategy and the ability to be flexible.”
Caroline Hooley, National Grid’s Corporate Responsibility & Sponsorships Manager
"Events like this conference help to keep us focused on delivering on our brand promise ‘Here with you. Here for you’."
Source: Mauri Myers-Solages, Manager, New York Corporate Citizenship
This was the first time I had attended the International Corporate Citizenship Conference in Los Angeles and I was impressed by the commitment of the 700-plus corporate responsibility professionals from around the world who attended the two-day event.
This conference is the ‘go-to’ event for the global corporate responsibility community and proved an ideal platform through which I could promote our Shared Value approach.
The theme of this year’s conference in Los Angeles was Adaptable Leadership and the importance of companies recognising that the path to achieving their goals can’t be rigid. You have to take advantage of opportunities and be able to steer around barriers you might find on your path.
National Grid’s approach to corporate responsibility perfectly illustrated this theme as we are adaptable to change, have a long-term strategy in place and, crucially, we understand the inter-connection between business goals and the wishes of society and the communities we serve.
Keep it simple
A very strong point raised at the conference is that everyone is doing too much. In other words, we have to be selective in the way we approach corporate responsibility. Delegates agreed that the way successful companies tackle this is to identify a few key programmes that will make the most difference and concentrate on these.
You need to have a ‘signature’ programme that provides a simple, identifiable focus for your corporate responsibility activities. This allows employees to engage their own passion for corporate responsibility within a structure that channels their enthusiasm.
A great example of how we are being more selective is our extensive support for City Year, a charity that encourages young people to volunteer for projects that will benefit deprived areas. While I was in the US, I took the opportunity to visit the organisation’s headquarters in Boston and discuss how we can tell our Team National Grid City Year story to employees and externally.
My session at the conference was on Corporate Responsibility in 2020 and it received a very positive response from the 100 delegates during the 90-minute discussion. I joined a panel with the Director of Sustainability at Dell and the Director of Citizenship at MetLife. Our facilitator was corporate responsibility expert Susan McPherson.
They say a good conference speech should grab people’s attention from the start, so I kicked off mine with our Making Connections animation. Companies were invited to submit corporate responsibility themed films for a film festival held during the conference, although ours missed out on an ‘Oscar’!
I talked about how we developed our long-term strategy to create value for both National Grid and society. Looking ahead at trends to 2020, I also highlighted the need for business to work with society to develop greater resilience, to be more responsible and to be a great place to work.
When discussing our approach with senior influencers from large organisations, it became clear to me that we share similar thoughts on the direction corporate responsibility needs to take.
This includes the importance of having a long-term strategy and the ability to be flexible. The feedback I received from other corporate responsibility experts is that our approach addresses society’s challenges and the needs of business.
It’s great to learn that we are on the same wavelength as major organisations, such as Dell, Fedex and Walt Disney, who also understand the value that corporate responsibility brings to the bottom line.
Benefits of citizenship support
Mauri Myers-Solages, Manager, New York Corporate Citizenship – who regularly attends the International Corporate Citizenship Conference and drives National Grid’s long association with event organiser, the Boston College Center of Corporate Citizenship – offers her thoughts on the event.
“We’ve been members of the Center for more than 10 years. We were keen to be involved because they have created a space to address how corporate responsibility impacts upon businesses and, like us, they understand the importance of aligning practices with your core competencies.
“It was a little unusual to have a utilities company participate, but I believe National Grid leads the way in corporate citizenship in this sector in the US. We have helped set the tone in terms of developing partnerships and support programmes. It demonstrates National Grid’s commitment to inspire and attract tomorrow’s engineers and energy industry professionals.
“The Center’s best-practice information and detailed research provides us with an invaluable resource that has helped to shape our corporate-giving strategy.
“The people we serve are definitely taking notice of our community engagement and commitment to things that affect their quality of life. This includes external stakeholders, especially in government and the not for profit sector, as well as internally, where employees feel proud to work for a company that is present in the communities where they live.
“Events like this conference help to keep us focused on delivering on our brand promise ‘Here with you. Here for you’. And it was really great to have Caroline attend and present our vision. She reinforced the importance of sustaining a corporate citizenship programme that is integrated into our business goals on both sides of the pond.”