Do private sector leaders have a responsibility to help advance social causes? Are we witnessing the emergence of corporate activism? These questions were at the centre of a round table of corporate executives during the 23rd Conference of Montreal organized by the International Economic Forum of the Americas.
As explained by Jordan LeBel, Director of the Luc Beauregard Centre of Excellence in Communications Research at Concordia University, the theme at the heart of the panel discussion stemmed from the Centre’s newly-released audit on CEO Communications. In keeping with its mandate to advance the strategic role of communications at the highest levels of organizational management, the Centre commissioned a research firm (the Gandalf Group) who conducted interviews with over 30 Canadian CEOs on the role of communications for the CEO function and within their organizations.
Joining Andrew Molson, Chairman of RES PUBLICA, in the roundtable discussion, entitled Promoting Values, Causes and Public Policy: What Role Should CEO Communications Play?, were panelists Rosalind L. Hudnell, President of the Intel Foundation and Vice-President of Human Resources and Director of Corporate Affairs at Intel; Antoine Tayyar, Director of Public Affairs & Communications at Coca-Cola Canada; and Danièle Henkel, President and CEO of Danièle Henkel.
Of the many points discussed during the event, panelists agreed that internal communications and external communications can no longer be separated, with social media providing ubiquitous instant communications.
Senior executives are expected to role model corporate values. With the concept of corporate social responsibility now widely accepted and even expected, CEOs must take a stand on issues that are in line with their organization’s mission and values, and in certain cases, even beyond those.
It’s not simply business altruism: it’s good business, period.