The First in a Series of Conversations with Ed Satell, Founder and CEO of the Satell Institute, a Think and Do Tank for Corporate Social Responsibility


As CEO of the Satell Institute and someone who speaks with other business leaders frequently, can you tell us a little about a rising movement in the business world, CEO interest in Corporate Social Responsibility

Well, I’m seeing two positive trends happening at the moment:

  1. A genuine emerging change in many CEO attitudes, shifting their mindset from sharing profits solely among shareholders, to the recognition it’s now in their company’s best interest to invest some of those profits back to help their community. This is consistent with the idea that thriving, vibrant communities are not just better for those who live and work there, they are important for business as well.
  2. We’re also seeing an increased recognition that our Collective Force of companies and foundations, together, can accomplish more, across diverse areas of need, for the greater good of the community than any single company can do on its own.

    Let me explain a little further.  These companies support community nonprofit organizations of their choice, and they now understand that by sharing ideas and experiences with other CEOs, they accomplish more, and at greater efficiency, to impact the greater good.

Why do you believe this is happening now?  What are the positive benefits of CSR? 

It’s a remarkable time right now.  It’s a a time when companies are privately motivated to contribute in a variety of ways to improve their communities to serve the best interest of business, individuals, children, family life and more.

Simply put, since most all wealth comes from the community, a stronger community benefits all.  Different companies choose to support a diverse group of nonprofits, from education, hospitals, research, to youth development, social services, arts and culture, and much more.  Increasingly, CEOs understand that it is in the shareholders’ best interest to give support to nonprofit, nonpartisan community organizations to make it a more attractive place to live by supporting activities that make a community great.   The basic premise is that most leaders would like to leave communities in a better place than they were, and while “a better place” means different things to different people, if we act in that spirit the community benefits.

Of course, most recognize business cannot–and should not—take on the entire burden.  But the concept that corporate funders are voluntarily making multi-year commitments to key nonprofit partners to help move the needle on a variety of societal needs … that’s important.  That helps businesses serve as good community citizens for long term impact, attract and retain talent, engage employees, and provide additional value to stakeholders.  That’s the benefit of Corporate Social Responsibility.  And that’s why the growing movement for CSR, makes right now a remarkable time, with remarkable potential.

On October 23rd, the Satell Institute will host its second Invitation-only CEO Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility—Communities Are Every Leader’s Business, discussing the business case for CSR.  This private conference, held at the Museum of the American Revolution, features David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation, and Chairman of Trustees, UPenn as keynote speaker.  More than one-hundred of the tri-state region’s CEOs and top business leaders will participate in this event, which includes candid CEO-to-CEO peer exchange on CSR goals and initiatives.

The Conference follows the highly successful April 18th Event, with keynote speaker William (Bill) McNabb, Chairman of Vanguard.

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