When my father, Dan Edelman, opened our firm 65 years ago, his principles for success included the importance of volunteerism, health and well-being, and learning and development. Since then, our narrative of corporate responsibility has evolved through steady advances and innovation. The launch of our FY17 Citizenship Report today marks a significant milestone in that evolution and illustrates the ways we are Living Our Story.
In 2010, Edelman senior leadership committed to build on Dan’s foundation by creating a dedicated Global Citizenship function. The goal was to integrate Citizenship into everything we do. In my new role as Managing Director of Global Engagement and Corporate Responsibility, I attended numerous sustainability and corporate responsibility conferences and always asked the same question of my peers: “How long will it take to incorporate Citizenship into the company?” Invariably, the response was “five to seven years” but knowing our firm’s “can-do” culture and entrepreneurial spirit, I always said that I believed we could do it in one to two years.
Well, here we are seven years later and, sure enough, I can confirm that it truly does take at least five to seven years to implement a culture change focused on Citizenship.
Our goal over the last seven years has been to integrate Citizenship into everything we do. With the introduction of 10 Citizenship Goals, the implementation of a sustainable procurement policy, and our initial steps to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we have made great progress towards achieving this goal.
Over the years, Citizenship has moved from a “nice to have” to a “must have.” In our 2017 Trust Barometer, three-in-four of respondents agreed that a company can take actions that both boost profits and improve economic and social conditions. Further, our 2017 Earned Brand study illustrates how consumer expectations of businesses can inform marketers’ strategies and how they think about purpose. One finding shows that it’s the new normal for global consumers to make belief-driven purchase decisions.
These findings from our intellectual property are as important for our own business as they are for our clients and other businesses. Living Our Story details what we are doing ourselves to act as a responsible global citizen—from partnering with our clients to develop purpose-driven campaigns to implementing internal policies and practices.
While we are proud of the progress we have made on our sustainability journey, we recognize and appreciate the road that lies ahead of us. With Dan Edelman’s Principles for Success as our foundation, our values as our guidepost, and the expectations defined by our stakeholders as our roadmap, we will continue living our Citizenship story day in and day out.
John Edelman is managing director, Global Engagement and Corporate Responsibility.