FedEx is a great example of a company deploying both good and..well…not so good Corporate Citizenship (CC) strategies.

I mentioned in an earlier post that ‘Centrality’ is key to deploying an impactful CC strategy. Centrality refers to the alignment between an organisations core capability, systems and its value chain, with the social and environmental strategies it supports and engages in.

FedEx’s first CC strategy is to offer its fleet of planes and systems to fly in specialists and logistics into human and natural disaster zones when they arise. It did this with great effect during the Indian Ocean Tsunami and with it came significant applause and credibility from around the world.

FedEx’s other strategy was to support charities offering family support to children born with birth defects. While noble and worthy of support, such a cause does not align with FedEx’s capabilities, systems and mission. Such a strategy relies on stakeholders drawing a long bow and is unlikely to offer the company a chance to deploy its skills and resources and learn from such a partnership. It’s likely a senior executive at FedEx has experienced this situation personally and influenced the company’s social strategy as a result.

A Corporate Citizenship strategy deploying Centrality offers organisations the ability to not only get themselves involved in philanthropic ventures and partnerships, but the opportunity to expose its teams and systems into new and novel ways that creates real impact in often very trying and dire circumstances. It’s important to choose social and environmental ventures wisely; misaligned partnerships can be doomed from the start leading to counter-productive and poorer outcomes for all involved. Again, in such guises it’s important to acknowledge that enthusiasm and commitment doesn’t automatically equate to real value and capability.

Shaun Deverson is the Director and a Principal Consultant at Lighthouse Road. Lighthouse Road is a specialist consulting firm focussed on supporting organisations in areas of Leadership, Sustainability, Corporate Citizenship and Complexity.

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