Blogs & Comment

Queen's CSR Weekend

The highlight of my participation in the CSR Weekend at the Queen’s School of Businesswas helping to judge the annual Nexen Awards.
Seven teams of MBA students presented their ideas about the best ways for a company operating in the oil sands area to improve their CSR initiatives. Needless to say this is very difficult territory – it’s clear that the impacts of oil sands operations are under scrutiny from advocacy groups around the world, the situation is extremely complex, and that there are no easy answers.
However, the judges were very impressed by the degree to which the teams understood the still-emerging discipline of corporate social responsibility, recognized the challenges for corporations with oil sands operations, and had developed creative approaches to help mitigate environmental impact and maximize business value.
The presentations also made me think about a simple framework for effective CSR planning:
1. Establish clear business and social/environmental objectives
2. Identify and prioritize the stakeholders that matter most (often very difficult to do due because of the many key groups that are involved including: employees, regulators, media, suppliers, customers, local communities, advocacy groups, etc.)
3. Establish internal credibility at an executive level by focusing on areas where success can be demonstrated early and where the risks are lowest.
4. Develop a communications plan to reach and influence the stakeholders that have been selected as priorities in a way that seen as authentic/genuine.
5. Make sure that you have built in an effective evaluation process. This is essential for internal credibility and continuous improvement
I think all the judges would agree with me that the students understood the situation extremely well and that each team’s presentation was remarkable.
I left feeling really inspired to know that the next generation of business leader will be placing such a high priority on doing the right thing.
Congratulations to Prof. Tina Dacin, Mandy Daniel, and especially to the Queen’s MBA students who did such a great job.