When CSR isn’t sexy

OK, ok, I know most normal people would say that CSR is never sexy, but there are certainly some aspects of CSR that are easier to get people excited about than others. Yesterday, I saw a tweet from Kevin Moss from BT that I thought was spot on. He wrote: “I see my CSR role is to be a catalyst and failing that an irritant. Today was a good day for catalyst.” Along those lines, I see my CSR role as having the opportunity to work on exciting big strategic CSR projects/policies and also having the responsibility to make sure the more tedious and unsexy tasks get done. Today was a good day for unsexy.

Today, there were no big announcements of sustainability goals or investments, no board of directors presentations, no the release of a CSR report or whitepaper, or the roll out of a huge new win/initiative – but lots of work on the part of CSR that most people don’t see: implementation. The tactical, day-to-day actions that aren’t always the most fun, but which are absolutely essential to moving us up along the CSR maturity curve. I attended a face-to-face meeting earlier of about 12 different representatives from a number of our supply chain organizations, where they were reviewing the myriad of actions we took to “integrate” ESG into supply chain management processes over the past year and mapping out plans for next year. Of course, in CSR conferences and reports, we often talk about the need to “embed CSR” and to “engage employees” – but sitting through the different presentations of the working groups was a good reminder that each of these phrases represents the many smaller and often mundane actions that have to be completed in order for us to be effective. From which new questions to add to our supplier scorecards and when, to how many training sessions or articles to run on our employee intranet site, to how to continue to improve the process for collecting emissions data from our suppliers, to how to structure and prioritize smelter audits to address traceability of conflict minerals, it can be daunting in the details. Buy when we talk about CSR integration, this is what I believe success looks like – strategies and actions being developed and driven by each individual business group – and continued focus on executing and tracking performance to drive change over time.

So after my “deep-dive” in supply chain issues today, I head off tomorrow for a different type of deep dive – this time based on geography (and one that would certainly fall more on the sexy side of my job equation.) I’m actually traveling to China to meet with our CSR team there to work on CSR strategic plans for the coming year and to visit our operations in Chengdu. I anticipate that it will be a really valuable week spending time with my Intel colleagues there and meeting with a number of CSR experts in Beijing, discussing a range of issues including CSR reporting, the social impact of our education and community engagement programs, environmental performance, (and of course our supply chain responsibility efforts). I look forward to sharing more from my trip back here on the blog next week from the road.

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About Suzanne Fallender

Suzanne Fallender is Intel’s Director of Corporate Responsibility. In this role, she collaborates with key stakeholders across the company to integrate corporate responsibility concepts into company strategies, policies, public reporting, and stakeholder engagement activities to advance Intel’s corporate responsibility leadership and create positive social impact and business value. Suzanne leads a team of experienced professionals who engage with internal and external groups to review Intel’s corporate responsibility performance and to identify new opportunities to apply Intel’s technology and expertise to address social and environmental challenges. The team also works closely with Intel’s investor relations and corporate governance groups to drive an integrated outreach strategy with investors on governance and corporate responsibility issues. Suzanne has more than 20 years of experience in the field of corporate responsibility and socially responsible investment. During her time at Intel, Suzanne has held a number of corporate responsibility-related roles, including leading programs empowering girls and women through technology. Prior to Intel, Suzanne served as Vice President at Institutional Shareholder Services where she managed the firm’s socially responsible investing division. Suzanne holds an M.B.A. from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and a B.A. from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. She has served on a number of leading industry advisory boards and committees on sustainability and corporate responsibility over the past decade and currently is a member of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s Executive Forum and the Net Impact Advisory Council. Follow Suzanne on Twitter at @sfallender.

2 thoughts on “When CSR isn’t sexy

  1. Have a great trip Suzanne. Tending to the seedlings as they grow may not always be sexy, but it is rewarding as you know. Please say hello to CY and other friends in Chengdu.

  2. Thanks, Dave – yes, you are so right. I will make sure to give all the Chengdu folks your regards for sure.

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