Making and Building Connections to Advance Social Responsibility

I have had some very interesting conversations this week that prompted me to consider this post. Earlier today I was contacted by a certain Gerry Cavanagh. The name immediately rang a bell, but I didn't know exactly from where. When I heard the word "Father" preceding his name, I was immediately transported back to my wooden desk in a Business Ethics class I took at the University of Detroit in the mid-1980s.

I remember that class to this day, but I have to admit I hadn't thought about it recently. Turns out Fr. Cavanaugh is now the Dean of the business school at University of Detroit-Mercy. We had a nice conversation and agreed to stay in touch on some of these issues as we both try to advance the CSR agenda in our own ways. It was an interesting reminder that my career path had been taking shape that long-ago. I'm also going to check out one of his recent books, American Business Values: A Global Perspective.

But that leads me to a broader point, I had several other conversations this week, and without naming specific names, my take away thought was just how important personal and professional connections are in the CSR and sustainability arena. In addition to conversations with content experts, NGOs, and even team members from my last company, I had a nice conversation with a new entrant into the CSR field who did some work for me as a student at Thunderbird School of Global Management. Another person who reached out to me this week was a much more senior individual that had been in the business for many years but was getting ready to consider an expanded scope. He just wanted to talk through some of the useful strategies and emerging issues both from a social investment perspective and the challenges of doing CSR in a different geographical region. And, a quick conversation with Don Carli on the footprint of advertising always sprouts a few brain cells. You can follow Don tweets here.

I realize that the JustMeans audience is coming to this subject from many different angles and many different geographies. I can't recommend strongly enough that you build your network early, and strengthen it through credibility often. Take the subjects that interest you, identify those fellow travelers you can communicate with, and those leaders you want to follow.

Next week, I'm off to SF for the BCCCC International Corporate Citizenship conference. I'm involved in several topics there and will try to post a blog or two.