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CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY GROWS IN IMPORTANCE

More Companies Demonstrate Excellence in CSR

         
 

Over the past 14 years of releasing the Global Outsourcing 100 lists, IAOP has found that corporate social responsibility has grown as a factor that plays an increasingly central role in customers’ buying decisions. 
Providers and advisors have become true partners in the CSR journey with award-winning programs focused on a wide range of important issues, as demonstrated in their strong GO100 applications. This year, nearly three-quarters of the companies on the main list, or 80 organizations, were recognized for their excellence in this critical area.      

“I’ve seen more and more applicants gaining strength in social responsibility in outsourcing,” says Teresa Harris, COP, Global Supplier Relationship Manager, GE, a long-time judge on the evaluation panel.  “I think the feedback the applicants learn from the GO100 judging process has come full circle to influence the outsourcing industry. More and more applicants score higher in demonstrating their socially responsible strategies and programs, and more buyers are interested in partnering with providers who stand out in this area.” 

PULSE talked with the following four GO100 leaders who are listed on both the CSR and Sustained Excellence sublists to learn more about their CSR strategies and their proudest accomplishments: Kirkland and Ellis, Baker and McKenzie, Avasant and Colliers. Click here for the profiles:

Kirkland and Ellis
Neil S. Hirshman, COP, Partner

P: In recent years, CSR has become more important to the Global Outsourcing 100 program. Has it also become more important in your organization? 

Hirshman: Absolutely. Pro bono work, charitable giving, and diversity and inclusion have long been pillars of our CSR program. Sustainability has naturally become a focus in recent years. We started a new firmwide wellbeing program last year — one of the first such initiatives offered at a Big Law firm — to proactively work with our attorneys on issues related to mental health and substance misuse.

P: Can you explain how your CSR journey has changed in recent years? 

Hirshman: Recent events have brought to the forefront the urgency with which we must address issues of prejudice and systemic racism and how we must work tirelessly to create a more compassionate and tolerant society. We have long been devoted to these values through our pro bono efforts, but we recognize that we must recommit and work harder than ever to continue building a diverse and inclusive workplace, as well as continuing to support diversity and fight injustice in our communities.

P: What are you most proud of when it comes to CSR?

Hirshman: I am proud that Kirkland is a leader in CSR. In the last year, we have created a groundbreaking wellbeing program and renewed our commitment to diversity and racial justice. In addition, we continue to provide time and financial resources to a wide range of important initiatives to advance inclusion, advocate for LGBTQ+ people, empower women, assist immigrants and refugees, promote sustainability, support veterans and improve access to justice.

Baker and McKenzie
Peter George, Partner

 
P: In recent years, CSR has become more important to the Global Outsourcing 100 program. Has it also become more important in your organization?  

George: CSR has been central to our firm since its inception. As the first truly global law firm, equality, access to justice, and community betterment have always been woven into our fabric. It's who we are. However, in recent years, we have progressed from a siloed approach, to meaningfully embedding sustainability into our business. We are working more closely with clients on these issues, helping them to achieve their sustainability goals, and collaborating on achieving our shared goals. We have deepened our relationship with entities such as the United Nations Global Compact and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. We have also publicly committed to aspirational targets around Gender and Carbon Emissions.  

P: Can you explain how your CSR journey has changed in recent years?

George: Last year, we conducted a global materiality assessment to identify which of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to prioritize and embed in our sustainable business strategy. This involved surveying over 1,400 internal and external stakeholders worldwide to understand which environmental, social and governance issues matter most to our people, our clients, and the wider community. The SDGs that we have aligned with reflect our own and our clients' commitment to inclusion and diversity, climate action, anti-corruption and ethics as well as our commitment to collaborating with like-minded companies and organizations around the world. Aligning with these SDGs not only provides us with a comprehensive framework to advance our CSR efforts, but it also gives us an opportunity to partner with like-minded people - from our clients, governments, multilateral organizations and civil society - to work together to realize the vision of a sustainable world.

P: What are you most proud of when it comes to CSR? 

George: That's a tough one - there are so many passionate people around the firm, doing incredibly important work. In Milan, a local partner worked with the UNHCR to develop a program that places asylum seekers in training contracts with our clients in the region. They are working in HR, IT and design with some of the biggest companies in the world. It helps them to acclimatize to their new society, and gain on the job training. Many of the contracts have been made permanent. It's a hugely impactful project. That’s just an example of a local initiative.

Globally, the firm is very engaged in issues such as access to justice for women and children. Our Homeless Youth Handbook is a groundbreaking tool for homeless kids in the U.S. to access information about their rights and resources available to them, in an accessible, understandable way. I could go on. There's a lot to be proud of.  

Avasant
Kevin Parikh, Chairman and CEO

P: In recent years, CSR has become more important to the Global Outsourcing 100 program. Has it also become more important in your organization?

Parikh: At Avasant, our business of providing advisory services is guided by our core objective of Empowering Beyond - empowering people, businesses, communities and countries to reach beyond the status quo and challenge their potential to acquire new levels of success.

For Avasant, CSR means that we discharge this responsibility every day during the regular course of our business. CSR is embedded into our everyday activity, across every aspect of our organization, and has been of paramount importance to us since our inception. We have a dedicated not-for-profit organization, the Avasant Foundation, to spearhead our community involvement initiatives and empower youth in underdeveloped and emerging economies by creating employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. 

Through our Associate Engagement Program, each Avasant employee is actively involved in contributing to the Foundation’s initiatives embedding a DNA that supports social and economic empowerment across all levels of the organization. Avasant Foundation also raises funds for financing other social programs such as environmental sustainability, and poverty reduction through the Foundation’s annual charity event, Golf for Impact. 
We understand our responsibility, through Avasant and its Foundation, as a global corporate citizen to build, develop and provide initiatives that inspire, and have a significant social and economic impact for people, communities and nations across the world. Our CSR efforts have always held deep importance to us and will continue to do so. We continuously work to enhance these efforts, strengthen our impact and value creation, and ensure that our business is conducted in a socially responsible and ethical manner.

P: Can you explain how your CSR journey has changed in recent years? 

Parikh: Our CSR commitment has always been focused on improving lives and communities, creating a measurable and lasting impact. This has not changed for us but rather; our journey has evolved as our business has evolved. It has expanded as our business has expanded – by geography, industry and practice areas, as we embrace more and more of these CSR activities into our everyday work. New challenges are constantly and continuously emerging, so we ensure that our CSR efforts are also expanding and evolving to solve emerging challenges. We actively work with and support international philanthropic and development organizations in achieving their missions and goals.

As a UN Global Compact member since 2011, we have aligned our corporate vision and business practices with the ten principles of the Global Compact which spans issues such as human rights, labor laws, environmental concerns and anti-corruption. 

We are also committed to supporting the progress of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and our Foundation is a founding member of SDG Funders, a global philanthropic platform founded by Rockefeller Philanthropic Advisors. With CSR being a priority for us, and a part of who we are and what we do, it’s natural that our CSR efforts scale and our journey evolves as our company evolves – to be more global, impact more lives and create more opportunities. 
P: What are you most proud of when it comes to CSR?

Parikh: CSR at Avasant embodies meaningfulness, community, involvement, partnerships, philanthropy, ethics, equality and to have a steadfast impact on lives. I am proud that we achieve these through our CSR efforts – whether across the Avasant Foundation, our client engagements and within the organization, to build a positive work culture. I am proud of our CSR efforts and the impact it has on thousands of lives globally. I am proud of the opportunities that we create for underserving youths and the hope it provides for a better life. And I am most proud that our employees, at all levels, are intensely passionate and driven to be socially responsible, to have meaningfulness in their work and demonstrate commitment in the company’s CSR activities.

It’s truly rewarding to see everyone engaged and actively volunteer to support our CSR initiatives, especially through the Avasant Foundation. All Avasanters are focused and committed to the mission of the firm, our Foundation, to the SDG Goals and to CSR.

Colliers International
John Friedrichsen, Chief Operating Officer, Global 


P: In recent years, CSR has become more important to the Global Outsourcing 100 program. Has it also become more important in your organization?

Friedrichsen: As a leading global commercial real estate and investment firm with two million square feet and $33 billion under management, we have a unique opportunity to lead change for a better future. Corporate social responsibility plays a fundamental role in guiding our actions so that we are always doing what’s right for our clients, people and communities – one of our five company values. Over the years, CSR has certainly become more important as clients and prospects increasingly expect us to take actions that are aligned with the right values while creating a positive impact and delivering long-term value.

P: Can you explain how your CSR journey has changed in recent years?

Friedrichsen: We have always been an organization with a decentralized management style that empowers each region to develop strategies that make the most sense for their markets. Over the years, we’ve grown – and are continuing to grow – our global focus in certain areas such as diversity & inclusion. For example, we developed a global D&I statement signed by Jay Hennick, Global Chairman & CEO of Colliers International and the regional CEOs; formalized policies such as the Global Anti-Discrimination Policy; and built relationships with external organizations to help us assimilate best practices.

Furthermore, we’ve added businesses to the Colliers family such as Harrison Street, a leading investment management firm that not only brings greater focus to our business, but also cares deeply about corporate sustainability and responsibility in their corporate and investment operations.

P: What are you most proud of when it comes to CSR?

Friedrichsen: I’m tremendously proud of our enterprising culture that empowers our people to support causes they are passionate about, allowing them to do their best work and deliver solutions that create more sustainable and healthier workplaces for our clients and for Colliers as well. 

When the bushfire crisis struck in Australia, our Colliers professionals jumped in immediately – from our Retail Real Estate Management professionals working overtime to support their local communities with facilities and shelter afforded by the assets under their management, to our Colliers people who volunteered to fight the fire on the frontlines. To support those volunteers, we acted quickly to modify our paid leave policy to include employees engaged in voluntary emergency service. Last week, Brian Rosen, President & CEO, Canada signed the BlackNorth Initiative pledge to take concrete, measurable steps towards ending anti-black systemic racism in the corporate world. These are just two of many examples of the commitment that Colliers has made to CSR, and the early stages of a longer journey that we look forward to in the years to come. Helping employees rally around a greater cause and having initiatives that make them proud to work at Colliers is truly rewarding.
 

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