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CSR Champions: Leading from Within

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, June 27, 2018

If you poll 100 companies with thriving corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs and ask them to name the key factors contributing to their success, leadership was likely be on every list. In many cases, the CEO or company founder was the original inspiration behind the organization’s CSR program. In all cases, they play (or should play) a reinforcer role, consistently demonstrating the company’s commitment to achieving business success and social impact.

Without support or engagement from the top, a CSR plan will not be successful. The CEO, however, is not the only champion for CSR within an organization. Others leadership roles that have proven to be influential in establishing or advancing CSR include:

  • Human Resources: Employees are a key stakeholder in a company’s CSR plan, so the need for strategic and sustained employee engagement is a driver. And a variety of research reports back this up. A growing percentage of employees confirm their jobs are more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social or environmental issues. In fact, they’ve come to expect it. The correlation between these opportunities and job satisfaction are high making CSR both a benefit and a differentiator when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.
  • Marketing: A CSR strategy must be consistent with a company’s values and brand to be accepted and therefore meaningful to another key stakeholder group: customers, clients and business partners. When authentic, CSR has the potential to raise awareness, inspire engagement and advance other branding-related efforts for a company.
  • Community Relations: For companies where CSR is synonymous with philanthropy, the community relations department is where CSR resides. However, more and more community relations professionals are understanding and influencing a company’s opportunity to be more strategic, and as a result, having a greater impact on the business and the community.
  • Emerging Leaders: As millennials grow older and start to step into leadership and management positions, they become the ultimate champions for CSR. Known for placing more value on corporate culture and purpose, they bring their sense of responsibility in addressing social and environmental challenges to their work.
In building the business case for CSR, these leaders are most often the predominant catalysts for change. However, let us not forget that any employee can be a champion. When employees feel engaged, they shift from being stakeholders to ambassadors. We’ll share best practices for creating ambassadors, including tips for turning challengers into champions, in a future blog post. Go to to receive CSR News in your inbox.

Tags:  branding  community relations  corporate social responsibility  employee engagement  leadership 

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Posted By Administration, Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Company: Florida Blue 

Employees: 6,000 employees in Florida, with approximately 400 in Central Florida

Please share an overview of your CSR program.

We have deep roots in the Sunshine State that go back more than 70 years, which is what drives our desire to help Florida’s communities stay healthy, educated and beautiful. Our corporate social responsibility is defined by the contributions we make through our employee volunteer efforts, philanthropic programs, community investments, partnerships with local organizations and environmental sustainability practices. We are committed to helping people and communities achieve better health and to connecting with the passions of our employees and members.

How did your program get started? What was the catalyst?

Building off our rich history of serving Floridians in their local communities, we were driven by our mission – helping people and communities achieve better health. It is the company’s reason for existence. It sets us apart as we are committed to making a difference for Florida’s communities and to finding new ways to help the people of Florida in their pursuit of better health.

In what areas do you strive to have an impact?

We support our mission by focusing on investments in programs and organizations that align with our quest to make Florida a healthier state. We have four primary areas of focus that include:

  • Addressing local needs with programs to improve education and literacy; health and human services; arts and culture; and community development
  • Promoting innovative new ways to provide health care to underserved populations
  • Encouraging healthy lifestyles that promote a lifetime of good health
  • Supporting growth and advancement of nursing and other health care professions to improve the quality and safety of patient care

How do you measure the success or impact of your program?

The field of corporate social responsibility is becoming more strategic and more focused on impact. We are being charged with assessing real results. Here at Florida Blue and the Florida Blue Foundation, we want to make impactful community investments that support our mission and create sustainable change throughout our communities. As part of our due diligence:

  • We gain an understanding of the overall impact that grantees want to achieve
  • We want to see evidence that our community investment addressed the problems and needs they are seeking to address
  • We want to see the impacts/outcomes of our investment through performance measures and impact reports

What advice would you give to other companies wishing to implement CSR strategies into their business?

To determine the best approach for your company we would suggest you consider aligning a societal issue or issues with your company’s business priorities to help determine your focus and purpose.

Engage your C-suite. Your CSR strategies need to be embraced by your executive leadership.

When engaging with the community become a partner with them and work together to find solutions to the community’s challenges.

And finally, we would embed CSR into your corporate culture and find ways for your team members to offer their time and talent to support your CSR initiatives.

For more information, visit Florida Blue:

Just like you, we enjoy reading about the work of good corporate citizens in Central Florida. If your company has a good CSR story to tell, please reach out to us at We’d like to hear about it!

Tags:  central florida  corporate citizenship  corporate social responsibility  impact  nonprofit  sustainability 

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Q & A on CSR & Social Entrepreneurship, Today & Tomorrow with Crummer’s Dr. Conway Dato-on

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Mary Conway Dato-on, Ph.D., is a professor of international business and social entrepreneurship at the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College, where she teaches international business, marketing, and social entrepreneurship. Her academic experience extends beyond the classroom to include public-private partnerships with Tupperware Brands Global Links and as a board member for Rally: The Social Enterprise Accelerator. Dr. Conway Dato-on was selected for a 2013-2014 Fulbright Garcia-Robles U.S. scholar grant to conduct research on social entrepreneurship in the Mexican context with Rollins’ partner school, IPADE.

Q: As someone who teaches on both Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Social Entrepreneurship, can you help us understand the distinction between the two?
We explore these topics in depth in various courses at the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College, however at the highest level, they are both about combining business innovation and social value.

Social entrepreneurs combine direct, innovative action with risk-taking to create an organization whose primary mission is to create social value.

Through a CSR strategy, corporations augment innovative business approaches with decisions, actions, and philanthropy that create social value, but this isn’t its primary organizational purpose.

To put these two terms into perspective, it is helpful to look at local, recognizable examples. For social enterprises in Central Florida, three different organizations -- each with a slightly different business model -- come to mind: REBUILD Globally / deux mains (a hybrid for-profit and nonprofit organization), Ten Thousand Villages (a 501c-3 nonprofit) and Clean the World (the first registered *B-corp. in Florida).  For good examples of CSR, I think of Tupperware, Florida Hospital, and Disney all of which apply CSR best practices through their operations, including philanthropy and across its supply chain.

*B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

Q: When you look at CSR examples across industries, what do you find they have in common?

This is an interesting question and one that a group of students in our Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (EDBA) program explored in their course on CSR and Social Entrepreneurship. The course objective is to understand the theoretical underpinnings of each concept. Our most recent doctoral cohort explored a variety of business models based on their own respective industries, identifying how they were similar, different or overlapping. They hope to present their findings at the 2018 Engaged Management Scholarship Conference in September. As a sneak preview, the general finds are that while business models and strategy may be different across industries, strong leadership and commitment to CSR underpin the efforts.

To receive a copy of their findings, please follow our CSR blog or sign-up to receive CSRhub news.

Q: Rollins sponsors Rally: The Social Enterprise Accelerator we’ve heard so much about. What can you tell us about your involvement and what we can expect next?
In addition to Rollins being a founding sponsor/partner, Crummer provided the curriculum framework which the program manager, with the support of an incredible group of mentors, adapts to each enterprise. We provide workspace on campus for the cohort participants, as well as the business and educational connections they need to build and launch a successful enterprise. Additionally, Crummer engaged our MBA students during our course on social entrepreneurship. The students provided valuable feedback to the social enterprises during a practice pitch.

Through our inaugural social enterprise accelerator program, we helped founders create positive change and build a wide range of sustainable ventures. As a board member, I am looking forward to engaging with the second cohort which kicked off in May.

For more information on Rally, visit:

Q: How did you get into this exciting area?
It is less about how, and more about why. Everything about these topics excites me. By nature, I am eclectic in my approach, meaning I am always looking for ways to combine activities and resources that result in multiple outcomes. I don’t see things as either or. Businesses have social and environmental responsibility - by definition they are social entities – at the same time, they have a shared responsibility to be a sustainable business with economic livelihood. So, we have a paradox. I work within this apparent inconsistency in order to help businesses, and business leaders, deal with the challenges of succeeding in the paradox.

Additionally, I have a background in marketing so I’ve studied how consumers drive businesses to “do the right thing.” In other words, consumers also have an opportunity – and the power - to lead by example. So, when we make a decision to eat organic or buy Fair Trade, we influence the supply for these goods, which eventually drives down their costs. The more consumers demand, the more businesses respond. This movement then demands firms to reinvent their business models and social enterprises are born. (OK, it’s a bit more complex than that, but you get the idea!)

Q: As an educator, how do you see this field evolving?
Our world is facing a fundamental shift. But the good news is that even though we are seeing an increase in wicked problems (complex issues without simple solutions), we are also seeing an increase in the number of young business leaders interested in working toward solving them.
That means as educators, we too have a responsibility to prepare the next generation of leaders for this rise in conscious consumption and demand for transparent, equitable business practices.

Tags:  corporate social responsibility  social enterprise accelerator  social entrepreneurship 

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Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Company: Winter Park Construction (WPC)

Employees: 130 in Central Florida

Please share an overview of your CSR program.

Giving back to the community has been a part of the WPC Way for as many years as I can remember. Our Vision Statement includes “community” in its message and it is engrained in our culture. As good humans, we cannot benefit from being a part of a community without providing service to it. How did your program get started? What was the catalyst? In the early 1980’s, WPC was approached to participate in building an accessible playground in Winter Park. Designed for kids with mobility issues, the playground provided an opportunity for them to enjoy and play like all the other kids. That effort sparked a passion in our leadership to provide in-kind services when possible to charitable organizations.

In what areas do you strive to have an impact?

Many of our community-related efforts center around child-focused organizations and military veteran organizations such as The Faine House, Bridges of Light Foundation, OCA, Dancing for Diabetes, CECO, Home at Last and Honor Flight. Positively impacting a young person in order to give them a chance for a fulfilling and happy life, as well as thanking and supporting veterans who have sacrificed so much, is what we endeavor to achieve in our charitable efforts. Whether it be remodeling a building so that kids aging out of the foster system can have a safe and secure place to live, or building a mortgage-free home specifically for the needs of an injured veteran, these become our most beloved projects to build.

How do you measure the success or impact of your program?

Our favorite metric of impact is when we receive a card or video directly from one of the kids we’ve helped thanking us for making a difference for them. There is no better way of knowing you are successful than when you can feel it from those you’ve touched.

In addition, when WPC is mentioned in the community, so many people talk about what they’ve seen us do beyond our building efforts. Having a reputation of being a good community partner is as important to us as our reputation as a quality builder.

What advice would you give to other companies wishing to implement CSR strategies into their business?

My advice to other companies is target a specific number of organizations and make as big of an impact as possible for them. WPC focuses a majority of their efforts on 6 organizations each year in order to maximize our impact. We look for ways of providing in-kind services that allow for greater employee involvement in lieu of just making donations. We create events that rally employee participation and we strive to be diverse and creative so that their participation is sustainable. We create champions within our organization and recognize those champions so that community service becomes a part of our culture.

For more information on WPC:



Just like you, we enjoy reading about the work of good corporate citizens in Central Florida. If your company has a good CSR story to tell, please reach out to us at We’d like to hear about it!

PHOTO: WPC staff in Dec 2017 packing 10,000 meals for Feeding Children Everywhere

Tags:  Central Florida  Corporate Social Responsibility  Social Impact  Winter Park Construction 

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Shifts in Thinking in The Impact Revolution

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Today’s businesses are operating in the Impact Revolution similar to how we refer to the Industrial Revolution, a time in history when how we did business changed forever.  For some companies, corporate social responsibility is an integral part of their overall business and brand, and has been for some time. For others, they are just getting started. The point is, we live in a day and age when corporate citizenship matters – to employees, to buyers, to investors and to the general population.

For companies still evaluating if or how to jump in, it is important to consider how the concept of corporate social responsibility has shifted over time. For everyone else, it is a good reminder.


From Sustainability to Social Impact: For many companies, especially early on, CSR and sustainability were synonymous. The responsibility was about preserving resources and operating in a way that was conducive to the environment. Today, CSR encompasses environmental, economic and social responsibility and refers to businesses' responsibility to act ethically and consider their impacts on the community at large.


From Philanthropy to Partnership: Successful business leaders often think in terms of ROI. The same is true for CSR. It forces a shift in thinking from simply writing checks, to having sustained impact, and for many, that means moving beyond philanthropy to partnership. Take for example Stella Artois’ partnership with Together they strive to provide access to safe water for 3.5 million people in the developing world by 2020.


Deep Pockets to Deep Impact: Smart investments can be as significant as large ones. Such was the case for Dupaco, a regional credit union, that took a more focused approach to maximize their impact. In partnership with The HEART (Housing Education and Rehabilitation Training) Program which provides a hands-on learning experience for young, disadvantaged teens, they are helping to transform local neighborhoods into safe and desirable communities for working families while creating economic opportunities for first-time home buyers. You can easily see how this partnership has the potential for deep, and ongoing impact in their community.


Volunteering to Skilled Volunteerism: CSR is about more than giving money. It is also about giving time. Nonprofits rely on volunteers, but the ones that can articulate a need for skilled volunteerism get the greatest benefit from their corporate partners. We’re talking about professional service companies contributing their time and talents on a pro bono basis, construction companies building homes and schools for those in need and business leaders serving as mentors.


From Team Building to Talent Acquisition and Retention: For many businesses, volunteerism is as basic as developing a policy for volunteer time off, or encouraging involvement in an annual day of service.  However, more companies are seeing their CSR programs as both a differentiator and a benefit. According to the 2016 Cone Communications Employee Engagement Study, 71% of employees want their company to provide opportunities for them to help make a positive impact on the company’s social and environmental commitments and 88% of them confirm their job is more fulfilling when they do. When measuring the impacts of CSR, having a positive social impact is often the ultimate goal, however it is important to remember that businesses cannot have an impact – in business or the community – without first attracting and retaining talent.


From Responsible Business Operations to Taking a Stand: While some companies were still trying to figure all of this out, others were going above and beyond. In fact, we saw 2017 redefine responsible business operations to mean taking a stand or taking action. Companies can be a force for good, and that now includes taking a stand on issues tied to their values. In the same Cone study noted above, employees confirmed this: 78% of employees expect companies to stand up for important social justice issues.


From Big Company to Any Company: The strategic principles behind CSR apply to any company, any size, starting with tapping into a company’s goals, values and purpose. Every company got into business for a reason, with a problem they sought to solve, or a need they hoped to meet. In addition to this becoming the foundation of their business, it serves as the basis of any corporate social responsibility program.

Which brings us to the last, but most important shift.


From Tactic to Strategy:  So regardless of your company size or strategy, corporate social responsibility is more effective with a plan. If you’re fine writing a check or volunteering time, that is okay. Some effort will have more impact than no effort at all. But if you want to build an effective, sustainable CSR program, you want to approach it as strategically as possible. It must be an integral part of your business, something consistent with your values and your brand, something that will a positive impact on your stakeholders including consumers/clients, employees, investors AND your community -- then you should have a plan.


If your company is interested in starting, expanding or centering its corporate social responsibility program and would like to stay informed of best practices such as these, please sign up to receive news from us. We are here to inspire, guide and support you in integrating CSR into your overall business strategy. Our goal is to reach greater results for your company and the community.

Tags:  advocacy  business strategy  central florida  corporate social responsibility  skilled volunteerism  social impact  sustainability  volunteerism 

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Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 17, 2018

Businesses in the United States, and Central Florida in particular, are poised and eager to incorporate corporate social responsibility (CSR) into the important work they do. They believe business can be a force for good and are implementing CSR programs, aligning their values with their daily operations. Let us to take your board on a journey through the changing landscape of corporate social responsibility, while highlighting benefits to business and business leaders. We will also explore ways nonprofits can be proactive in enabling CSR programs and in doing so, bring maximum benefit to their organization and the community.

Connect with us if your board is interested in adding CSR to a future meeting agenda. Kecia Carroll, our manager of corporate citizenship and CSR advisor, could lead a brief discussion on:

  • CSR from a corporate perspective
  • Innovative ideas for corporate partnership opportunities in your own organization
  • Essential steps for getting your nonprofit started

For more information or to get started, please contact our office at 407-975-6414 or by e-mail at

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Activism: How Good Corporate Citizens are Taking a Stand

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 26, 2018

Companies can be a force for good, and more and more, that means taking a stand on issues tied to their values. Consumers expect this from companies they do business with, but more and more, so do employees. In the recent Cone Communications Employee Engagement Study, “78% of employees expect companies to stand up for important social justice issues.” Here are a few examples of companies taking a stand in meaningful ways:

  • At Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company, the protection and preservation of the environment isn’t what they do when volunteering or writing checks. It’s the reason they’re in business. It is their every day’s work. As a result, this self-proclaimed ‘activist company’, recently took the changes to environmental regulation into their own hands as discussed in the Guardian.
  • Most recently, we saw Dick’s Sporting Goods be one of the first companies to set its own regulations on gun control. With heightened mass shootings, specifically school shootings, the company was proactive in taking on the very controversial topic of gun control. Here’s why.

  • In a slightly different scenario, Bank of America has emerged as an activist for diversity and inclusivity, topics that are important to their employees and customers across the country. For many years they have partnered with Ad Council in support of a Love Has No Labels campaign as a way to highlight inclusivity and diversity throughout their company and the community.
  • We can learn just as much from bad examples of corporate activism as we can from these good ones. For example, Pepsi attempted to take a stand on race relations in a recent ad. They said the goal of this ad was to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding, however it was perceived as trivializing racial strife. Pepsi apologized for this controversial advertisement that borrowed imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement and promptly took down the campaign.

Last year redefined responsible business operations to include taking a stand, something we see continuing to increase in 2018. The risks of not doing so can be high, both in disengagement from key stakeholders – employees, customers and other partners or alliances as well as lost business opportunities causing many companies to (re)evaluate what they stand for, and to what degree that will take action.

If your company is interested in incorporating advocacy into your corporate social responsibility program, reach out to us at or 407.975.6414. We can help you enhance your CSR program, or help you get started with one.


Tags:  activism  advocacy  corporate citizenship  examples  responsible business 

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Corporate Citizenship Spotlight: Employment Technologies

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Company: Employment Technologies

Size: 22 employees

How did your CSR program get started? What was the catalyst?

Employment Technologies is committed to the belief that success is more than the bottom line, Employment Technologies founders, Joseph and Eugenia Sefcik, set the standard for community support and involvement. Now in our 24th year, the Company supports ongoing education through partnerships with area colleges and universities as well as financial support for several nonprofits. Employees are also given the opportunity to take time for volunteer efforts both in the U.S. and abroad.

In what areas do you strive to have an impact?

We believe in the power of education to transform lives, so we focus much of our philanthropic efforts on supporting education and training programs. We leverage our job simulation technology and expertise for organizations that assist the chronically underemployed to learn workplace readiness skills. For example, we work closely with The Jobs Partnership of Florida, where Joseph Sefcik is a board member. Another way we support education is by engaging college students from University of Central Florida and Florida Southern College for research and special projects.

Eugenia Sefcik has also established a local community outreach program which sponsors at-risk inner city Orlando youth to attend the life-changing summer camp, Kids Across America. Since its inception in 2005, the program, which is aligned with a ministry of First Presbyterian Church,  has provided more than 300 teen scholarships. Students wanting to attend the camp throughout their middle and high school years are given encouragement alongside measurable incentives related to personal and educational goals.

How do you measure the success or impact of your CSR program?

One of the key success factors for us is sustaining relationships. One of newest employees was discovered because of our relationship with Florida Southern College. We are also encouraged by the success of our partners, noting the ripple effect in our community. 

External recognition helps us tell our story, too. Mr. Sefcik has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from both his alma maters, Florida Southern College and the University of Central Florida, in recognition for his contributions to his profession and community.

What advice would you give to other companies wishing to implement CSR into their business?

Get started before you have all the answers!  Allow yourself to learn along the way. Also, look for a natural connection between your work product or service. It’s been most satisfying for us to extend our expertise in job simulations and hiring to workforce training programs. 


For more information, visit Employment Technologies


Tags:  case study  company in action  corporate citizenship spotlight  corporate social responsibility  employment technologies 

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Central Florida Companies Celebrate Earth Day

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 20, 2018

On April 22nd, we celebrate Earth Day, a celebration that started back in 1970 to signify the modern environmental movement. What began as protests against industrial development that took a toll on the Earth, has now evolved into something businesses celebrate together with the rest of the world committed to environmental activism. Today, many businesses use this day to raise awareness for the need for environmentally-friendly strategies while reemphasizing their own corporate social responsibility practices. For example:

  • OUC- Orlando Utilities Commission, invited employees to volunteer at the Children’s Safety Village of Central Florida. On April 14th, 50 of their employees and their families helped clean up the organization’s facility.
  • Massey Services, Inc., a company that takes pride in their environmentally-beneficial services and supports environmental responsibility throughout their business, participates in various Earth Month events such as sponsoring Central Florida Earth Day.
  • Walt Disney World takes on Earth Day with Party for the Planet festivities. They offer special events throughout the day that educate their audiences on the importance of the environment and the planet as a whole. To keep the celebration going, they have other environmentally-focused special events spread throughout the year.
  • And we many businesses celebrate Earth Day simply by making minor adjustments for a more sustainable office.

Many companies, as well as individuals, choose to get involved with Earth Day events through their own communities. Orlando hosts Central Florida Earth Day, which strives to inspire sustainable, humane, healthy, and equitable decisions at all levels, from the individual and local levels to the corporate, governmental and international levels. The event is held to support business and NGOs that are making a positive difference in the world. One example of business engagement in this event is on “Sustainable Business in the Sunshine State: Agriculture, Energy, and Consumerism.” The City of Altamonte Springs is hosting an Earth Day Celebration. And last weekend, the City of Winter Park, celebrated Earth Day in the Park. The city’s Sustainability Program, Urban Forestry Division, and Keep Winter Park Beautiful hosted this event.

We are interested in hearing what your Central Florida business did for Earth Day so please reach out to us at and share your stories.

Tags:  Business  Central Florida  Community  Earth Day  Sustainability 

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Impact Investing, the Soulmate to CSR

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 12, 2018

The term ‘impact investing’ is popping up more frequently in business news. That is good for companies focused on driving corporate value and social impact. But what does the term mean? We were curious as well which is why we invited impact investing expert Paul Herman to join Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College students for a question and answer event facilitated by Kecia Carroll, the head of Corporate Citizenship at the Edyth Bush Institute, one of Crummer’s six Centers of Excellence. Faculty and students were able to gain insights on impact investing and how it is changing the world of finance and creating opportunities for business.

Herman, the CEO and Founder of HIP Investor, explained how impact investing is investing in companies that have social and financial returns. Financial statements often lack social standards, meaning they do not measure a company’s social returns. These standards can help an investment have more upside and a lower future risk. As an example, Herman raised the issue of employees and their placement on the financial statements. He pointed out that most companies consider employees to be an asset, however on a company’s financials, they are recorded as an expense. Herman emphasized that investing in employees and treating them as an asset can result in greater profitability.

When asked why companies and their people should focus on this area, he shared the following proof point: The value weighted portfolio or the portfolio focused on treating people right, improving environmental impact, and having ethical standards has 40% premium. This is compared to an equal weighted portfolio that only had a 25% premium.

When asked about examples of companies implementing impact investing in their business, Herman noted that most companies implementing impact investing had CSR strategies in their business. One of the best examples he offered was SAP, which uses the UN Sustainable Development goals as a guideline for their CSR practices. Wegmans, which continuously engages employees and is one of FORTUNE’s best companies to work for and Teach for America, which helps cultivate a new generation of educated leaders, were other noteworthy examples. These companies have all learned how to connect to their shareholders, and make employees feel a purpose when at work.

For the emerging leaders in the room, Herman offered this simple, yet powerful advice: The most important way to influence people is to educate, inspire, and shift them to action. This could be one of the most important ‘roles’ emerging leaders play in the area of CSR and impact investing.

Tags:  Corporate Social Responsibility  Crummer  Finance  Impact  Impact Investing  Paul Herman 

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