Insight Outside

Insight Outside

A Retreat On Purpose

We’re bringing Insight Outside, in Zion National Park.

After attending the same sustainability/purpose conferences for the past several years, we feel that they have become stale. We’ve come to the conclusion that the problem with conferences is that they are just that, a conference — the same speakers saying the same things, the long days of sitting and listening, and the awkward small talk.

Insight Outside is not a conference. This means no fluorescent-lit rooms, forced networking sessions, name tags, or anything else we’ve come to dislike about a typical conference. Instead, Insight Outside embodies personal and professional development, daily adventure, collaborative learning, and a communal atmosphere. Each day we will engage our bodies in outdoor activities, workshop practical communication challenges, and share insights.

Inside Outside is a 3 day, 2 night retreat for communicators and purpose-driven professionals to learn through hands-on workshops and fireside chats while engaging in outdoor activities and sharing ideas amongst one another as equals. Sometimes you need to get out of the office, set the refresh button, and realize the potential “purpose” has on elevating your business.

Discerning Taste

Discerning Taste

Sustainability reporting for evolving audiences

An evolution of taste

In the not-so-distant past, coffee drinkers had pretty limited options: do you take cream or sugar? Thankfully, that’s no longer the case today. Within walking distance of our office in Encinitas, we have three great coffee shops where we can get anything from a single-origin pour-over to a breve latte. Which got us thinking…

Just as baristas craft a variety of drinks using a handful of ingredients, sustainability reporters have the opportunity to craft a variety of communications from the ESG ingredients included in a typical sustainability report. And, while coffee drinkers’ tastes have evolved, so too have the tastes and preferences of sustainability audiences.

Corporate sustainability is no longer a niche subject important only in the minds of a handful of regulators and environmentalists. As our collective understanding of the value of sustainability has grown, new audiences have joined the conversation.

To effectively engage this growing and diverse audience, we (as sustainability communicators) must adapt. We have to stop talking only about what we’re doing – summarizing our accomplishments in an annual report – and start talking about why what we’re doing matters. Furthermore, we need to challenge ourselves to be more creative – with both our content and our methods of delivery.

In the following pages, we’ll take a look at how our audiences’ tastes have evolved and explore how reporting organizations are adapting their approach to offer audiences the “flavors” of sustainability that they crave.

Although differences in individual tastes vary widely, our overall point is pretty simple: you can’t serve the same plain-ole cup of Joe to everyone and expect them to enjoy it. Start with an understanding of your audience and then tailor what you serve accordingly.

The end result will make them thirsty for more.

To access the remaining content please submit the form below:

Finding your purpose

Finding your purpose

A workshop

Organizations use many terms to define who they are, what they stand for, and where they plan on heading — terms like mission, purpose, vision, values, etc. At thinkPARALLAX, we like to think of purpose, an organization’s aspirational reason for being beyond profit, as the ultimate and archetypal descriptor. A well-defined purpose, or “North Star” as we often call it, will serve as the ultimate guide point allowing your organization to navigate both difficult challenges and new opportunities.

This workshop is designed to give you the tools and knowledge to:

  • Create a purpose statement for your organization
  • Discover why purpose matters
  • Assess how purpose-oriented your organization is
  • Unveil potential examples of purpose in action
  • Identify stakeholders and illustrate channels to activate and communicate your purpose

Watch the above video or read the transcript below to learn more about the “Finding your Purpose” workshop.


Guusje: My name is Guusje Bendeler. Thank you, you did a great job of pronouncing it. I used to tell my students at San Diego State University, “Just remember ‘who’s your daddy’ and then you’ll know how to pronounce my name. Because when you see it written, it’s like you don’t even know if I’m a woman or a man, right?

In this session, we’re going to shake things up a little bit. Today was really inspiring, especially the fact that we are here with all women. Some of the sessions really got me thinking, and that’s what I want to do with you, too. I want to talk with you about how to find your North Star. When I talk about North Star, I talk about how to define your organizational purpose, how to articulate it, and then how to bring it to life.

How many of you believe that you do really meaningful work? Raise your hands. I expected quite a bit of hands, I expected more hands, actually! And how many of you think you know the organizational purpose, the reason for being, of the company that you work for? Let’s see some hands. Okay, that’s pretty good. For some of you that’s really clear, if you’re an entrepreneur or a sole proprietor, then I hope you’re really in sync with your own purpose. But sometimes it’s a little bit complex for a company. It might be really clear to your leaders, but not so clear to all the other employees.

I want to help you to define that in a speed that is crazy fast. We only have 40 minutes together, and I also wanted to talk a little bit about how you can activate that purpose. I’ll give you some ideas. There’s a worksheet in front of you with some information that is helpful to bring with you and start some conversations back at work. There are also pens and if you need more, or if somebody doesn’t have a worksheet, I have Leah, Will, and Jonathan who can help you.

We’re going to get busy here. I call it a purpose primer. By the way, we are a B Corps. I think it’s really important. My personal purpose is that I wish for every single organization and business in the world to be a for-benefit business. That’s really my goal. How am I so intrigued with purpose? Our roots really lay in strategy and creating strategies, communications, and implementation for sustainability, and that’s where we felt we could make the biggest impact as communicators. We have been doing that for large companies like Southwest Airlines, International Paper, Sempra Energy, Polycom, you name a few. This has been really satisfying work to help them push the envelope, doing good or a little better. And really, what’s most important is how you connect the sustainability strategy to the business strategy.

Sometimes we bump into the situation, but not always, that with the long-term business strategy in place, you realize – do you actually really know what your purpose is? When I talk about purpose, do you know the purpose beyond profit, the aspirational reason of being for your company beyond profit. When we realize that it’s is not always really clear and that it’s sometimes really hard to connect the sustainability strategy to the business strategy, that made me think, how can we create more impact as communicators and help people to do more? That’s why we’re now really big on trying to help others define their purpose and then start articulating it, embedding it, and then really bringing it to life.

What is purpose? There’s a bunch of definitions that go around and the definition that I use is purpose is the aspirational, the reason for being beyond profit. That’s the shortest definition. That’s the one I gave you in your worksheet, easy to remember. EY has a bit longer one, and I’ll read it to you, and they say, “It’s the organization’s single underlying objective that unifies all stakeholders. It should embody its ultimate role in the broader economic, societal, and environmental context for hundreds or more years.”

You can see that the sustainability part comes in play right away, so there’s the connection, right away. Then there is this idea that needs to be really aspirational and meaningful for a very, very long time. In order for it to be a North Star, it needs to be a goal so far away that it’s aspirational but not attainable within a few years.

Why is purpose importance? As I was talking about it, it’s really important to connect the dots. It’s really important for long-term strategy. It’s important for innovation. It’s important as a differentiator. If you don’t have to react to customer demands and instead can create consumer needs, then you’re ahead of the game, right? It helps tremendously with employee engagement; having every employee in your organization really know why you’re here and how their day-to-day work helps to work towards that North Star makes your work more meaningful. It helps with retention. It helps with recruiting. It helps with risk mitigation. It helps to build resilience. It helps to really build your reputation. And there’s a few more on your worksheet so you can read a little bit more.

What I think would be really good to do with you is to try, in a really mini way, to define your purpose. Maybe you already have a purpose, but maybe you feel it’s not aspirational enough, or maybe it is hidden. In an exercise with you, I’m going to guide you through how you can define your purpose. Honestly, it’s going to be a bit of a brainstorming session for yourself or for you and your coworkers if you’re sitting at a table together, or for your neighbor just to talk about and to try to get your thinking going. Okay?

Let me read you a few examples of purpose statements of some other companies that you will know to kind of understand how to start thinking. For example, 3M’s purpose is “to solve unsolved problems innovatively.” So you can understand more or less what they’re doing. It’s a bit more practical, but at the same time it has an aspirational tone to it, right? Merck, the pharmaceutical company, is “Our purpose is to preserve and improve human life.” Now there are two, and they’re quite aspirational, quite North Star. If we build a strategy on that purpose statement and start setting our priorities, then we can know what our actions can be.

Zappos’ purpose is a little bit more practical, but really true for them, too. They say, “To inspire the world by showing it’s possible to simultaneously deliver happiness to customers, employees, communities, vendors, and shareholders in a long-term, sustainable way.” So, more practical, but they even mention for who they’re doing it, for all their stakeholders. And they are trying to share what the impact is that they want to have. That’s what I want you to start thinking about, too.

I gave you two lines here. It’s way too little, obviously. So you have a little notepad to use and to start brainstorming. I’m going to give you a couple tips, and then start just writing away, but think through a few things. Think of the fact that it’s an aspirational reason for being and that it should go beyond profit. It’s hard, but try not to think of your products and your services because it goes way beyond that. Think of the impact that you want to make and the change that you want to achieve. Then try to really think of it in the largest form possible, in the largest context possible, and try to think of a broad a group of stakeholders. Who are your stakeholders and how do you want to impact them? What is hard of course, is try really make it inspiring. See if there can be a call-to-action in it. Last but not least, make it timeless.

I want to give you a few minutes, and I invite you to talk with each other and ask what does the purpose feel for you? If you already have a purpose, do you feel that that purpose is true and that that purpose functions well and is being used all the time in your company? Is it? How many of you feel that you have, and you already raised your hands, that you already have a purpose? Now talking about it, use that as a starter but see if it can be improved. Does anybody have any questions? All thinking caps on? Yeah? Think of why you exist, for who, and what impact you want to make.

Do you feel like you’re getting somewhere? All right, as much as I would like to really use the rest of the time for this and walk around and help brainstorm with you, there’s really no time. I didn’t say this before, but please come to me afterwards if you have questions or you want to talk with me. I have lots more information about this. I’d love to talk with you about it. You can also email me at This is a conversation starter. This is what you should bring back and talk with your colleagues about.

Now, let’s get to the next step. We also want to know, within your organization, in what stage of purpose-embedding you are. How is purpose embedded, how is purpose articulated, and how much is purpose already being brought to life? We have many skills in between, but we very roughly have about three stages: hidden purpose, surface purpose, and raised purpose. On the backside of your sheet, there’s a tiny little ladder we call a purpose ladder, but what I want to do with you right now is have you do a little self-assessment so that you can use it for yourself. Of course it’s not scientific and this doesn’t count for your whole company, but it’s your idea of how purpose-oriented or how purpose-driven your company already is.

On right side of the first page here, there are ten questions. Read the statements carefully thinking of your work, of your company, and then if you believe the statement really rings true for your company, rate it a 10. If you absolutely can’t find your company in the statement whatsoever, then it’s a 1. And then, of course, there are all the gradations in between. After you’re done, you can tally up your score and then I’ll tell you, roughly, in what stage you’ll fall. Yeah? You want to take a few minutes to do that?

The interesting thing about these statements is that when you rate them really high, you understand that purpose is activated in your company. These also give you ideas of how purpose can be put into action. Have you been able to fill out those questions? Did you score yourself? Yeah? No?

Maybe what I should do is start explaining what the three different stages are of purpose. The first one is a hidden purpose. Hidden purpose is a nice word for saying that there is no purpose. That can be the first one and if your company truly is just only thinking of creating short-term value for your shareholders, period, and you feel the daily pressure of that a lot, and you have a hard time making your leaders understand how sustainability needs to connect to the business, because they see it as a cost. They say, “Okay, donate some money to this wonderful cause over here, and then we do great and we make more money.” Right? That’s what they’re concerned about.

Most of the times, though, there is a purpose, but often it’s a little bit hidden. For example, it was created at birth and the founders felt very strongly about it, but slowly but surely it became kind of a plaque on the wall and it wasn’t really done much with. Maybe it wasn’t timeless enough. Maybe it just for some reason stayed with the talk and less with the walk. That is probably not company-wide. It probably doesn’t touch many stakeholders.

Roughly if you scored up to 30 points, then I’d say you’re probably in the hidden purpose stage. Now the surface purpose I think most of the companies are in, and that is the stage where you actually already have a purpose and the leaders are talking about it, for example, but they feel really inspired and they are like, “Okay, you guys, let’s go for it!” But then it kind of stalls right there. There’s a discrepancy with what they say, what they believe the purpose is, how purpose-driven your company already is, and then what they ask actions to be of the employees. It probably really is not yet connected to any long-term business strategy. It doesn’t yet function as a North Star. It might not even be used, for example, for R and D or risk mitigation, and there are lots of reasons why – maybe it hasn’t been inspirational or aspiring enough yet, or maybe it’s also just not timeless enough. It was too easy to be reached.

If you’re in that middle area, roughly from 30 to 60 or 70 points or so, or actually 70 to 80 points I should say, you probably are in surface purpose. Now, raised purpose is where your purpose is already really very well articulated. It’s embedded throughout the organization in all different dimensions within the organization, not just sustainability and, for example, HR, which are your typical areas of the business where you care a lot about purpose. It goes beyond that. It’s important for performance as well. It’s important for governance. It’s important for leadership. It really means the purpose is really brought to life for all stakeholders and really put into action. Anywhere above 80 points or so, I would say you’re really doing a fantastic job.

Why is it important to know what stage you are? If you believe that organizational purpose can be a real helpful tool and motivator to rally people around and to try to start implementing, it’s helpful to know and be realistic about where you are. Because if you think you’re in hidden purpose but you don’t really know and you want to go right to raised, and you start thinking of all kinds of actions that can help to bring purpose to life, that middle area of bringing everybody along, embedding it carefully, and making sure that it is company-wide embedded, is not there yet. Then it’s bound to fail. So you need to be realistic and just move your way up slowly. It’s a multiple-year plan, creating the internal buy-in, then creating the ambassadors for it, and then really get to work. First you’re making it work internally, and then bringing it externally.

I’m actually curious to know, how many of you did rate assess your company’s purpose as a hidden purpose? Nobody? That’s sort of wonderful, unless nobody made actually the score. How many of you did have a surface purpose? Yes, very good. And how many of you felt like you had a raised purpose? Wonderful. Good, thank you very much for doing the assessment. I hope it’s helpful for you to start thinking about where you’re at.

If you think that it is indeed helpful to have a purpose and to make it your North Star, then it’s helpful also to know that the perspective that you have is only one angle, right? If you look at the little 360 purpose on the backside of your sheet, you see there a circle. In the middle it says raised purpose, and around it, it talks about the seven different dimensions of purpose. Sorry, seven dimensions of it within the workplace. One of them is innovation, performance, leadership, governance, workplace itself, everything HR-related, citizenship and sustainability – and all of those are really important to make sure that purpose is going to become company-wide.

If you’re in the sustainability area, you’re only one pie of that full circle, and maybe that’s how you feel, “I’m working so hard to do all these things and other leaders don’t get it, or they don’t care for it.” So just realizing that you’re only one piece of that pie, and then realizing, wherever you are on the stages of purpose, is that you first need to get other friends in the other dimensions that start to believe it too, and that will rally with you because you’re only you, right? That is the first step to do – convince others, make a very good plan, and, as in the last conversation here on the podium, make it relevant for them. Speak their language and help them to understand, for their dimension, how purpose is relevant and how purpose is important. Once you have more people rallied around you and you can convince your CEO, then it can start trickling back down again. That’s when tbottom-up, top-down starts to work. Not necessarily an easy task, but definitely something that I feel really passionate about.

The last part of this workshop is that I want you to start thinking about what kind of actions you can take to bring purpose to life. Let’s actually go back to the front side of your sheet and go to the purpose tree. Imagine yourself – what is one of your favorite trees when you grew up? Just see it in front of you, visualize it for a moment. Then think of all the leaves that are on there and how pretty the branches are and how big and strong the trunk is. Depending on what kind of tree it is, maybe you actually see the roots, too, because some trees have these gorgeous roots all down the tree. Other trees don’t, but there’s still an enormous amount of roots pretty much as big as the actual foliage or the branches of the tree itself. That’s with purpose, too. Purpose are really the roots. Together with the ethics and values of your company, they form the roots of your company. Unless those roots are really healthy, fed daily, and have the nutritions, that foundation cannot function. Then your strategy, your priorities, and your actions – which we have kind of said that the trunk is your long-term strategies with your sub-strategies, your branches are your priorities, and your actions are your leaves. So it all has to be there. The leaves will not survive if the roots are not really healthy. Same for the trunk and the branches.

In this exercise, think about what actions, what purpose actions, can you think of? In all honestly, of course, you will need to know what your strategy is and you’ll need to know what your priorities are. That might be really a lot right now to go through, but what you can think of, is maybe your stakeholders and the priorities that relate to your different stakeholders. On the backside of the sheet, we have a little open area with these gray bubbles, and feel free to jot down different stakeholder groups in there that matter for your company, that care, or are concerned with your company. Typical stakeholders are your employees obviously, your customers or consumers, investors. Another stakeholder group, a really important one, is the community. You probably all deal a lot with regulators and policy makers, governments, agencies, how about NGOs? Those are all kinds of examples of stakeholders that care about your business or are concerned about your business, company, or organization.

Now, start to think of keeping your purpose in mind. Start to think, what kind of actions are we already doing to bring purpose to life, or what kinds of actions could we do to bring purpose to life and to go beyond the daily things of just only being concerned about profit? What else can we do? At the same time, don’t be scared of making good profit, right? That’s the for-benefit model. It should create value for all your stakeholders, not just the community, the consumer, the employees, or the investors.

A couple of examples – for employees, for example, once you have defined a purpose, say, “Let’s make the purpose a part of your review, and in your professional development plan, let’s talk about how you work towards achieving that purpose.” If that purpose statement is a bit much, try to bring it down a couple notches and have each employee really talk about, “Well, this is in my daily life how I work towards this purpose.” This is a great way for people to feel like they have meaning ] in their work, right? For consumers, random example – you cut out the middleman. You ship now directly to the consumer instead of through a middleman; you are decreasing all kinds of cost, and you are also minimizing impact on the environment. That is an example of a purpose action and so your customers will care about that and the investors will care about that. Those are a couple examples of what certain purpose actions can be.

Maybe you can come up with a few yourself and just kind of brainstorm, “what things can I do?” There is a list of examples here, and that’s really not meant to be your examples of putting purpose into action, it’s kind of just to get your creative juices going. Have any questions?

Maybe I should explain a little bit more that right now purpose is kind of a fashionable word, right? You hear it everywhere, and it’s connected to cause-marketing campaigns, which we talk about it in a really negative way by saying we’re putting lipstick on a pig. That’s not the right way. The holistic purpose is what we are all about. But to talk about purpose but then not do anything – to talk the talk but not walk the walk – is not okay, right? In the end the most important part is that you actually make operational changes, try to really create behavior changes, and trigger a mind shift, that it really becomes a part of your culture to always think about how we create value for all shareholders … sorry, stakeholders. Freudian slip.

The actions are the most important. As you see in the purpose tree, it’s really important that they are rooted and there is a plan how to do that, to give your actions meaning, because they need to be relevant to your business. If they’re not, then it will die a natural death really quickly. It’s not authentic. Your consumers and your end users will feel that; they don’t understand it because they don’t understand how that relates to your business. So make sure that the actions really are relevant to your business and to your reason for being. If you are able to activate really well, that’s when you can have the most meaningful impact.

The last part is, of course, that you can have great actions but then as a communicator, it’s super important that you talk about it, and that you share with the stakeholders through right channels what you’re doing so that you can inspire others, that you can be a role model, that you can show how you’re doing it so that others can follow, or that they can see, “Hey, I can trust you,” or “I understand what you’re about. I know what you stand for.” So the last part I want to close with is knowing what communication vehicle to use for what stakeholder and what kind of story.

I wrote a bunch of vehicles, as I call them, on the backside – the corporate website, animation, the reports, signage, speaking engagements, contests – there’s all kinds of different ones. The last part of your little exercise – think of a certain action, a purpose action, that you have connected to your stakeholder group, and to close the loop – in what vehicle or what channel do you talk, create a dialog or share stories about your doing? It’s important to understand, and it’s probably really relevant for you, is when you are, for example, creating a sustainability report, dumping every single thing in that report including all kinds of human interest stories, you realize, even though it is for all our stakeholders, well it’s not really working. So now we think more carefully about what channel do I use to communicate what kind of information? The hardcore data obviously belongs in your report. It’s the backbone for what you’re doing; it’s what shows the progress of your company towards all the efforts that you put in towards reaching that North Star. At the same time, the real storytelling belongs in channels like your website, videos and social media.

There are all kinds of other vehicles that you should be using, and other channels that you shouldn’t use. You can finish it up with jotting down some vehicles that you feel are perfect for your stakeholder and your action. I hope this got you thinking and that you want to bring it back and talk with your coworkers to see how purpose is already functioning in your organization or not yet and what you can do to help to bring it to life. If you have any questions, please come to me, Leah, Will, or Jonathan; we’re happy to answer any questions or give you any more information to keep reading, and to keep learning, and to be inspired.

Thank you very much, everybody, and have a good rest of the afternoon.

Purpose-driven employees are your strongest brand ambassadors

Purpose-driven employees are your strongest brand ambassadors

You’ve probably read the proliferation of literature about the benefits of hiring purpose-driven employees, which can result in increased productivity, higher retention rates, and more effective collaboration, just to name a few. But have you ever wondered how purpose-driven employees impact your organization’s branding and marketing?

As a CMO, you might believe that having purpose-driven employees work for your company is irrelevant to your work. You’re focused on marketing strategy and commercialization, so how would something that seems so siloed in HR affect your department? In reality, employee engagement, satisfaction, and culture fit has a direct impact on marketing. Keep reading to find out how this can propel your own company.

What are purpose-driven employees? They are people who are not only committed to their company’s goals by giving their best each day, but employees are also intrinsically motivated because they believe that their job matters and their work will make a difference. They are constantly seeking opportunities to grow, while creating meaningful relationships with clients, colleagues, and customers. In order for your workforce to be purpose-driven, it is imperative that your organization be purpose-driven itself. An organizational purpose, by definition, is an aspirational reason for being beyond for-profit. Purpose is the North Star that guides all long term business strategy, which is activated in all levels of the organization. When the purpose of a company aligns with the purpose of your employees, you achieve the ideal synergy.

The well-known, well-researched impacts of a highly-motivated employee base are, in short, increased creativity, collaboration, innovation, productivity, and profitability. The increased results ultimately give way to a higher revenue. Because one of your responsibilities as CMO is to generate revenue for your company, the value of having purpose-driven employees in your workforce is clearly necessary.

Traditionally, you may search for revenue-generators by penetrating bigger markets, introducing new products, and increasing the customer base, but you should always look beyond pure sales. This is where purpose-driven employees come in. Your employees are key to increasing customer loyalty, building trust, and authentically connecting with your audience.

If you’re ever had a bad customer service experience, you know that nothing connects less than a fake smile, an empty greeting, or a half-hearted reply to a valid customer concern. When someone’s heart is not in their work, they cannot represent your company in an authentic and caring way. But when their heart is fully invested, they become exponentially more effective for the company. When an employee loves bragging about their company, they are a living and breathing ad for your brand. When they can’t stop talking about how they feel good about what they do, you have the opportunity to harness that energy and use it for productivity and business growth.

When employees are simply happy and excited to be where they are, they can become one of your most powerful marketing weapons — brand ambassadors.

  • Employees are always there, so your marketing machine never stops.
  • They tell your stories in an authentic way – in all the right places where you find your customers.
  • Hearing from an insider makes the story more believable, especially when it comes from the heart.
  • There’s less risk of missteps of a brand ambassador when it’s your complete workforce.
  • Marketing budgets are yours to own and even huge ones eventually run out.
  • Marketing campaigns are ‘made up’ and have a short shelf life. Even the most wonderfully crafted and innovative campaigns are not the real deal for your target audiences. Nothing ‘made up’ is the real deal.

Realizing this is one step in the right direction, the next is to understand how you can leverage your workforce and make them your best brand ambassadors. Although it’s tempting to select your favorite employees and ‘hire’ them as storytellers, resist this idea. Instead, try to think more long-term and start at the beginning.

  1. Define and articulate your organization’s overall purpose that is innately supported by all leaders and embraced by all levels of employees.
  2. Activate this purpose internally first before bringing it externally. This may seem counterintuitive and might take a CMO a long time. However, if you do this right, you’ll reap the benefits later. Make sure the company purpose becomes rooted in the culture and is directly aligned with the company’s values. Not until the purpose is activated and lived by your leaders and employees, can you start authentically telling the stories that matter.
  3. Make sure your employees have a clear understanding of how their jobs matter in achieving the company’s purpose. Help them understand how their personal purpose can connect to the bigger purpose.
  4. Once understood and activated, empower employees to share their love. Don’t provide any guidelines and rules, let them be themselves. If you did your job right in the first place, they will be better storytellers than any brand ambassador you could ever hire.
  5. Do not try to attempt this on your own. Not only do you need a close partnership with the Head of People, but you need to also rally the desire and urge to do this among all leaders and most importantly, your CEO.
  6. Be patient. Culture change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a long breath, open mindedness, and ongoing diligence.

Time and a deep breath are hard to come by in the world of marketing, but think of it as this: if you’re able to put yourself at the center of this effort, you’re creating the best job security any CMO could wish for. And in the end we’re all happy — the employees for being valued and loved, the customers for loving and believing in your brand, and the CEO for loving and trusting in you.

The core elements of an engaging csr strategy

The core elements of an engaging csr strategy

A webinar with Scotiabank

To truly engage and activate audiences, organizations must develop a CSR narrative that roots all communications in the organization’s core beliefs, values, and purpose, moving the conversation from “here is what we are doing” to “here’s why what we are doing matters to you.”

Watch this webinar with Samantha Mesrobian, Director Corporate Social Responsibility at Scotiabank, to hear how their new CSR strategy dramatically altered how they engaged with their audiences, allowing them to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach (a traditional report) and embraced a wide range of communication tactics designed to provide all stakeholders the opportunity to take part in the conversation.

In this hour long webinar, we covered:

  • How to weave purpose into a strategic CSR narrative
  • Tips for creating a strategy frameworks that align CSR with core business strategy
  • When to (and when not to) leverage storytelling when interacting with various stakeholder groups
  • How to move beyond descriptions of what CSR does — and start speaking to why it matters to your audience

Please submit the form to access the webinar recording:


Guusje: Welcome everybody to our thinkPARALLAX webinar with Scotiabank with Samantha. We’re going to talk with Sam about her CSR strategy and the journey that the bank has made to get to where they’re right now.

First of all, my name is Guusje Bendeler. I’m co-founder of thinkPARALLAX. I’m also Head of Strategy and Creative. thinkPARALLAX is a strategic communications agency with a specialty in citizenship, strategy, and communications. We work with clients like Scotiabank, of course, for over a year now with Sam, but also with Southwest Airlines, International Paper, and many more.

I’m here with Samantha Mesrobian, and she’s joining us here from Toronto so quite far away from us, but we’re able through lots of these videoconferences and meeting each other to keep in close touch when we work together.

Sam is a real visionary and go getter, with a passion for CSR, and really likes to break through corporate barriers at the bank and do her work. She has done a tremendous job the last year with moving the bank [and] the CSR strategy from the what into the why.

So, hi Sam. How are you?

Samantha: Thank you for that.

Guusje: Now, will you please tell a little bit about yourself, your background, and your role at the bank, please.

Samantha: Sure, of course. So welcome everyone and thank you for the introduction Guusje. I’ve been with Scotiabank for about 10 years now, and I’ve been in this role as Structure of CSR for just over two. In that role, I’m responsible for the CSR strategy, peer reporting, stakeholder engagement, and of course communications, which is what we’re talking about today.

My experience, before Scotiabank, was on the marketing side, and for the most part, focused on brands. So I think that between the brand experience I had at Scotiabank and the marketing experience I have outside of the bank, it has allowed me to bring a unique perspectives to this current role in understanding the impacts to brands that are not just about how your market, but it’s also about gravitation and value. And that can be very much driven and impacted by your CSR.

Guusje: Yeah, exactly. And that’s what you’re going to talk about today, right?

Samantha: Exactly.

Guusje: So before I want to really give the whole webinar to you to explain your journey, let’s go quickly to what our plan for the day is. We’ll really start with hearing about your stories for the bank, and then I’m sure I’ll be asking you a couple questions. And then for all the participants, of course, please if you have any questions, jot them down and there is a questions section in your control panel here on the webinar … And by the way, I hope everybody can hear me and see us really well. If that’s not the case, then please make a little chat in the chat feature on the control panel, and we can see if we can help out.

So, after Sam has explained about the journey of CSR at the bank, we will open it up for question and answer for all of you. So please join in, and yeah. I think now with no further ado, please Sam go ahead and explain how you went from the what to the why.

Samantha: Okay, great. Thank you. So I think before I start with the what to the why, I think it’s really important to give a little bit of context about Scotiabank, so if you want to go to the next slide. I’ll just give you a little context.

Scotiabank is one of the largest 25 banks in the world. We operate in more than 60 countries. So because of that, we are what is called Canada’s International Bank and leading financial services provider. So, as you can see from this map, we operate in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Central America, and Asia Pacific.

We also cover a really broad range of advice, products, and services that run from personal and commercial banking, wealth management and private banking, corporate investment banking, and capital markets. So it’s a very diverse portfolio across very diverse markets.

We have, across our portfolio, 23 million customers, and we have over 88,000 employees. So just to give you some other context, within Canada there are over 35,000 employees. So actually in our international markets we have a bigger employee roster and branches, as well. So we have just over 1,100 branches in Canada in our retail footprint and just under 2,000 in our international market. So predominately our retail markets are Latin America, Central America, South America, and Canada, of course. The rest of the markets are not a retail banking base.

The last little piece I’ll give you is that as of our last Q2 results … Q3 will be coming out at the end of July, but our Q2 results we were at $921 billion in assets. We are not a small company. We are very complex, and we operate across a broad base of markets and customers.

Now, we can start on our journey, so if you want to go to the next slide please … Thank you.

As we talk about this journey, there’s three things … Once we get past this clip, there’s three things we’re going to talk about. One is establishing our strategic framework. One is about changing the narrative. And the third one is really about our communications plan. How do we define our audiences? And what are the messages that are important to specific audiences?

Over the course of the last year or so, the bank has established a new core purpose for why we bank and that is that we believe every customer has the right to become better off.

As the bank evolved into this new core purpose, it presented a great opportunity for the CSR team to address a disconnect. That disconnect was between CSR and the business itself. It was driven by a narrative and it was driven by execution, but there was definitely a big disconnect.

So, we created a CSR strategy called Better Future, Better Off and that allowed us to articulate that connection, not only to the business and why we bank, but also to the CSR initiatives of today and how we’re building sustainability into our operations for the future.

If you look at this diagram, you can see that the framework ensures a few things. One is that everything we’re doing is connected by why we bank, which was really central to not only buy in from our executives but also in how we communicate all our initiatives. And the framework also does another thing. We used to look at these five things: corporate governance, customers, employees, environment, and community as five what I’m going to call pillars. And actually they are not standalone, and especially corporate governance is really integrated across all of our things. So changing even visually how we look at what we’re doing into a circle diagram was a small thing, but actually helped us really to help articulate what we’re trying to do here.

The other thing that we changed in our framework was we stopped talking about our commitments, which are those five, and we started talking about our priorities and how those are connected to why we bank and helping our customers become better off.

What I like about our strategy Better Future, Better Off is not only that it’s connected to why we bank, but it also adds all things in CSR and sustainability. It looks to the future, and so it ensures that we have that North Star looking to not only what are we … Nope, not yet go back. Not only what are we impact-

Guusje:  Oops, sorry.

Samantha:  Impacting tomorrow.

Guusje: Sorry.

Samantha: Go back to the circle for one sec.

Guusje: Yes.

Samantha: Okay, so again, all of these things are priorities. Those are financial knowledge, access to finance, diversity and inclusion, responsible finance, climate change, and investing in young people as you can see there. All of those …

The other thing that we did by establishing our strategy was to establish really rigorous KPIs, as well. So if you … I’ll refer you to our website and the CSR reports at the end of the presentation, but you can look at that and see what our targets were this year … last year, sorry … We set directional targets, and this year we set actual KPIs. Next year we’re hoping to establish 3-5 year KPIs, instead of one year of both. So again, part of a journey.

Okay, now you can go to the next page.

Guusje:  I’m already there.

Samantha: Thank you.

Okay, so I think some interesting context for you on the phone is that Scotiabank used to be known sort of jokingly as the bank of no comment, and I think that that was very much reflected actually in our CSR storytelling. So we went in our journey went from a focus on what we do, which is based on those five commitment areas to a narrative around why. Why what we do matters and why it impacts our communities. And again, now our storytelling is around our priorities. We don’t want to talk about customers in general. We want to talk about the things that we’re doing to enable our customers with financial knowledge and access to finance, for example. A really important shift in our narrative.

Do you want to go to the next slide?

This is another really critical element in our journey, and I love thinkPARALLAX for coming up with this tree analogy because it really helps us. It gave us a North Start, and it keeps us rooted so everything that we’re doing is connected to our core purpose, our values, and that the CSR strategy is connected to that always. So, as you can see, the CSR strategy is actually the trunk in this illustration. And it’s the foundation for all of our communications and our activities. The branches are our priorities and material issues. So material issues, as you know, we go through stakeholder engagements. That’s how we aligned our priorities, by speaking with lots of stakeholders over a few year time period. Then we connect those initiatives and performance back to the strategy and purpose. So, again, I love this illustration because it really helps us keep a focus on what we’re trying to do with our storytelling and our narrative, which are the leaves. And we had to come back to this quite a few times over the course of the journey just to make sure we were not getting drawn down into the trunk of strategy, but that we were storytelling about the why.

I’m going to go to the next slide … Please.

This is the third element. Also very important part of our journey, which was really understanding who are audience was … our audiences are, sorry. And what kind of messaging and what kind of information they were looking for. So prior to our communications work with thinkPARALLAX, we had one annual CSR report and we had one static CSR website. So we would update the website on an annual basis based on the upcoming report, and the 2015 report was well over 100 pages long. Not only were we writing great stories, but no one was reading them because it was too long. It was too varied, and we were trying to fit a one size fits all message into one report. Great idea. Doesn’t work in today’s day in age.

So we started pulling apart social media, and traditional media, and who were the audiences. So you see there are 3BLs, which we use quite a lot for sharing not only our impact stories but sometimes Tweets, and Facebook posts. It depends on what we’re using externally to promote different things, but we have used almost all of these elements. Not all of them yet, but most of them I would say. We don’t have a Microsite, but we do have two internal channels. One is called Scotiabank Live, as you see there. The other is we’re testing Workplace on Face … or Facebook Workplace … whatever you call it. Facebook I’ll call it. Internally. So we have some interesting channels that we’re using.

We’re using also, as you can see in the middle there, we’re using different formats. So we’re using not just one long and dry report. We’re using video. We’re using editorial stories. We’re using our website via our storytelling platform. We have a GRI data … a GR Index Report. We have an ESG Reports. We have Public Accountability Statements. So all of these are tailored to provide the right message to the right audience. So this was really important.

We also now have a really robust and dynamic website, which you could go to the next slide.

Samantha: Okay, so this is just a visual. The website, as you can see on the bottom, is So right now we have, on the very front of the landing page, is our seven priorities. Again, we don’t talk about our commitments first, we talk about our priorities and the impacts that we’re making. So under each of those seven areas right now there is an impact story. As you can see on the landing page, there’s a video about our strategy, so that we’re trying to connect all of those priorities together for our audiences.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to add seven more stories across those categories. We’re also adding Q&As, and we also have videos coming. So there’s a lot of content that we want to continue to update it. It will no longer be a once a year update.

And within that website, you can see on the right-hand side at the top, there’s a download section. So if you want to read the report, great. You can download it there in three languages. Or if you want to read the GRI table because you’re crazy, you can do that, too. It’s very dry, I’ll let you know.

I think that by becoming storytellers, we’re actually enabling the banks to be seen as having a better impact in the market. Our employees understand the connection between the business and how the bank operates. The CSR is not seen as an isolated thing. It’s actually just a platform for the company to talk about the great things that we’re doing, and how we operate across our different markets.

So I love that we’re storytellers now. And I think that we have a lot to say. So we are no longer the bank of no comment, which actually has changed across a lot of the aspects of our communication plan, not just CSR. But it’s great to be on that same bandwagon and be part of what’s happening across the bank.

So that was a very fast journey.

Guusje:   Yeah.

Samantha: Well, I’m sorry about that.

Guusje:  No, no, no. Let me … I’ll join you again. Thank you very much for this story about your journey. I think it’s fascinating because, as large as you are, it’s not an easy task. And you summarized it beautifully in a very short time, but a lot of important [work went into that] as we all know.

So I guess the first thing I’m really curious about, Sam, is how was it received? How was it received by employees? By leaders? By the community? What have been some reactions so far?

Samantha:  I think that the biggest … First of all, well received overall. Well received, but I think the biggest … In my mind, the biggest evidence of success is that people are actually talking about Better Future, Better Off. They’re actually saying that back to us, and they understand that there’s a business connection. That to me is the first sign of success. That it’s actually doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s actually helping people understand how we operate is connected.

Guusje:  That’s a big first step, right?

Samantha: Huge. Huge.

Guusje: Yeah.

Samantha:  And we talked about this being a journey because we’re not … You’re never going to get all the way to your end goal in your first step. I mean we just launched the website and all the reporting in April, and now we’re updating content in July. So, you know, in three years from now, we’re going to be in a very different place, and we’re going to have so much content, people are going to go, “Wow! It’s crazy what’s happening over there at Scotiabank.” I hope.

Guusje:  Yeah, yeah. What you’re working towards. So what do you consider … I guess, that people now talk about Better Future, Better Off that you can consider a success. Do you feel like there are any other moments where you felt like, “Oh! This is clicking for people.” Or, “Oh! Now I’m not the only one who’s working towards this so hard.” What are some other early successes?

Samantha: That’s a really good question. What I think is good is that other groups are starting to use those similar language. That some of the priorities, actually, even within our priority list … Even though they were already priorities for how we operate, they’re actually gaining in awareness, or gaining in momentum, and there is increase support in resources behind some of those initiatives. So, again, the role of CSR at Scotiabank is really as an influencer. We don’t own any of the initiatives, we influence the bank to make progress on some of those priorities. So if we can see excitement and momentum building behind a certain priority area that’s been identified for the bank, that also is success for us.

Guusje: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, and it starts to really now connect what is important to the bank, the CSR, so that’s one …

Samantha:  It just means that…

Guusje:    So what is … Sorry, what did you say?

Samantha: That it means more people are engaged in the journey.

Guusje:  Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So a lot of hard work has been done so far, but you’re obviously not sitting leaning back and say, “Okay, well now we’re good. We tell a few more stories and we’re done.” So what is next?

Samantha: I think that there’s still an opportunity for us to integrate more and engage our employees more. So if you were involved … For example, if you’re involved in access to finance, there’s actually probably three different groups in the bank that might be driving the impact in that area. But when you start to talk to a broad group of employees about access to finance, many may not even know what that is, or have very little awareness of what that is, or how their job actually impacts that. That’s what I mean by integration. So we still have a lot of work to do on that side, I think.

Guusje: Yeah.

Samantha: And, of course, more stories because we still have more audiences to talk to. I think we’ve done a really good job starting that momentum externally with 3BLs, with some of our communication tactics externally. I think that we have lots of room to grow internally.

Guusje: Yeah.

Samantha:  And we’ll continue to build on that awareness with employees because it gets people excited about the organization.

Guusje:  Yeah. Yeah. And I would say because you’re such a global bank, more than half of your bank is all over the world and not just in Canada. How that integration is an even bigger challenge because of the size of your bank and how spread out you are. So how are you trying to deal with that?

Samantha: So we have, in our large market … So Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Canada we have dedicated CSR Teams. The Canadian team is obviously us, which is very small by the way. We’re only four. So we’re already aligned on strategies, but on the ground some of the initiatives they might be doing against those priorities might be different because the country needs are going to be different. So trying to ensure … I think that’s also part of our journey is to continue to make sure that we’re collaborating, but also in our storytelling, it can’t be a Canada voice. It has to represent the diversity of our markets and the geography of our markets. So we have to make sure we’ve got a good variety of stories coming out of countries. And actually, I think, some of the more interesting stories for me because I am from Canada are actually the stories from our Latin American partners, in particular.

Guusje:   Yeah. I agree, I agree. It adds a much more global level and all your priorities are really touching on bigger, global, I guess issues that are being dealt with everywhere, not just with your bank, but everywhere. So it’s very relevant.

Samantha:  I can give an example of how that might be different across our markets. So Access to Finance can mean anything from digital access, or remote community access, or microfinancing. So we don’t have microfinancing in Canada, but we do have Microfinancing in our Latin American countries. So those nuances are really important because we don’t necessarily …

And the solutions that we provide are going to be different. The remote communities in Peru may have some commonalities with remote communities in Canada, but the technology available or the cell phone coverage, or the cellular towers, or however their infrastructure is set up may present its own challenges. And so there’s no one size fits all, right? You can have a priority that has common threads, but it has very many threads. And that adds to the complexity of the bank.

Guusje:   Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I can imagine. So, I guess, talking about complexity. I’m sure that beyond it has been received really successful, and you’re working towards continuing on your journey to explain the why throughs storytelling rooted in the strategy and in the purpose of the bank. What were some of the challenges that you encountered in the last year, or maybe even longer, because we’ve worked with each other for a year, but I’m sure you already had lots in motion and were working on building to where you are right now. So what were some difficulties that you bumped into but maybe didn’t expect or maybe were bigger than … yeah, that you had to deal with?

Samantha: Yeah. I think the biggest one was really that disconnect between CSR and the business because if you’re not talking to your business partners in a language they understand, then it like gobbles you. It goes straight over their head, or they’re not really listening. But I think making sure that we were using the right language with the right audience. So not just from a storytelling perspective but how we’re communicating what our priorities were. And when we talk about our strategy, making sure we were using the right language with the right audiences. So that was also an interesting learning, I’d say, because we tend to speak in our own acronyms, and we use terms that are familiar to us in our space. So when I was in marketing, we used marketing terms, buzz words, whatever you want to call them. In CSR, we have our own set of lexicon. So, I think, the learning for us was not only to make sure you’re using plain language, but also be really clear what you’re trying to do. Sometimes you have to step back from what you’re doing to make sure you’re clear with your audience because if you’re talking in your own language, then you’re talking in circles to someone who doesn’t understand that language.

Guusje:  Mm-hmm (affirmative) So you really felt that once you’re understanding that, and you spoken the plain language … or in the language that you were really trying to connect it to the business … You felt like people were like, “Okay. Yeah, I get that. I can rally around that.” Right?

Samantha: Yeah. See, I think that especially at the executive levels because they can understand what we are really trying to accomplish. That it actually does have an impact on the banking operations. That it has a positive impact on brand reputation and brand value.

Guusje: Yeah.

Samantha: Yeah. And advertising effort.

Guusje: Yeah, that’s major.

Samantha:   It’s very major. The other one was just in our storytelling. Why do we want to be storytellers? And why are we telling the why and not the what? Even that. Making sure that you’re clear on where your journey is heading, I think, is really important up front because you’ll get buy-in early. And you need buy-in early because I mean we really changed direction on how we wanted to tell our story.

Guusje: Yeah. Yeah. And that helps, too, that on a global level everybody understands and know how to tell those stories and why to tell those stories.

Samantha: And also why they want to share stories with us so that we can amplify them.

Guusje:  Yes. Yes.

Samantha:  Again, it’s engaging people and getting them excited in what we’re trying to do because it has positive impact. It has a lot of interest for a broader audience.

Guusje: Yeah. And you feel that that now is … that that people all over the world … your CSR teams … your global teams … or regional teams, I should say, are really latching onto that and providing stories with that why angle?

Samantha: Yeah. I think for the most part because they get excited when they see their stories, not only in the CSR report, but on the website. Right? And again, the stories are not about, “Yay! Scotiabank look what we’re doing.” You know, we try to take the angle from either a customer we’ve helped or for example, we’re talking about … I don’t want to give it away, actually. There’s a story out of Mexico that’s a very exciting story, but it’s not about Scotiabank, actually, but it’s how Scotiabank is participating and further impacting that area. It’s a more interesting way to talk about what we’re doing, and I think that that gets our colleagues in the countries excited about sharing those because they like to be promoting the good things that are happening in their countries.

Guusje:  Yeah. Yeah. So if we want to read that story, we just need to come back to your website in a little while.

Samantha:  Yes. So you can … Anyone who’s on this call can read seven stories and watch a video right away. And over the next few weeks, there’ll be another seven stories and another video. And then there’ll be … You know, this is an ongoing process now. So it’s a whole other resourcing question.

Guusje: Yeah. Yeah, resourcing. So I guess maybe the resourcing is one I want to kind of ask you because I think it will be interesting for the participants to hear. Do you have any tips for people that are listening about your journey? And maybe actually a good one is is to resourcing you being with a team with only four and being so global, how do you deal with resourcing? How are you smart? Do you have any tips around that and how you can gather content? And I think, really, you already gave one where it was like, “Okay. Our story’s really clear right now. People understand it. It’s connecting to the business. It’s about the why and therefore, people are more eager to participate.” But how do you … Do you have any tips, in general, and then maybe in specific about the resourcing?

Samantha: I have a few tips. One is you can’t change things overnight, so you have to have patience. Everyone needs patience because you are on a journey. So whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish, you need … I would say that’s my first tip. Have patience.

The other thing I would say is don’t add to anyone’s workload. So we talked about the resources needed for storytelling, but we didn’t want to add a burden necessarily to our colleagues in the countries. So we tried to tap onto existing meaning platforms and existing communication channels where they’re already providing stories. And then if we think there’s an interesting story that we want to run with, then we go back and say, “Okay. So here’s some questions that we’d like you to answer, so that we can write a story.” And then you include them in the whole process. So it’s not all here. It’s about the broader team, which is across our markets.

Guusje:    Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Samantha: So that helps a lot.

Guusje: Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. Any other tips or ideas you can share?

Samantha:   I think we already covered make sure you’re using plain language.

Guusje: Yeah, yeah. You’re right.

Samantha: Not just in your storytelling but also how you’re articulating internally. I think we already covered be clear on where you’re trying to go. If you restate your strategy, your end goal is not going to be that you restated your strategy. Your end goal is going to be, you know, a few years down the road. And how are you delivering on that strategy? You’re not going to get there overnight. So be clear on where you’re going and make sure it’s connected to the business.

I think that was the biggest learning for us, is that we were doing all these great things, but it wasn’t connected enough … It was connected but not enough where people were going, “Oh, yeah. I get why we’re doing that because that is a direct impact on our operations, and our customers, and [the community].”

Guusje: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Good. Okay, well thank you very much for answering my questions. I want to go to some questions of the participants.

Samantha:  Okay.

Guusje: So, anybody has any questions please jot them down in the questions little panel in the control panel. But let’s first … There’s a question from Patrick and it says, “Can you touch on how you introduced this to your workforce to gain support, further momentum, and gain buy-in?”

Samantha: That, too, is a journey. I think a lot of the communication started with the launch of the website and our report because that’s the easiest starting point on how we’re communicating with employees. But the VP of CSR has continued to meet with different groups of … I have, as well. So we participate in either a huddle or, again, existing meeting platforms. We talk about our strategy, and we talk about our priorities. So planning a lot of different opportunities to get in front of employees is really key to that internal communications plan.

Guusje:  Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Samantha:  So even [participating internally] in conferences, all sorts of things.

Guusje:  Sorry, the last sentence you broke up a little bit.

Samantha: We’ve been participating in internal conferences, as well.

Guusje:  Uh-huh.

Samantha:  Any platform where you can talk about your strategy and how it’s connected to the business is always going to be welcome.

Guusje:  Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So and this questions ties in. It’s from Omar. We’re talking about internal communications. “How are you communicating progress, for example?”

Samantha:  So progress we will probably only communicate once a year because the KPIs right now are only based on annual KPIs. So, as I said at the beginning, we’re hoping to get to a longer term KPIs, as well. But you’re not going to be able to see progress if we’re reporting that on a monthly basis. For example, for Financial Knowledge one of our KPIs was to get financial literacy programs in front of more than 500,000 students in Canada. So we could report on the progress that we’ve made today, but it would be more impactful to wait until the end of the year and say, “Okay, so our target was 500,000. We actually hit 750,000.” Right? Rather than a quarterly update where you might not be reaching your target yet. So once a year is my [goal].

Guusje: Yeah, yeah. Be smart about it in that way so actual progress can be shown.

Samantha: Actual progress, yeah.

Guusje: Yeah. Okay and then how we talked a little bit about the size of your team, but in general … This question comes from Kevin. “What resources are the bank dedicating to this effort?” Messaging and keeping sites up to date is a significant effort, right? And just doing it. How is the bank resourcing for that?

Samantha:  The team has changed the way that we’ve structured workload on our team. We actually have a person who’s dedicated to communications and helping us promote our progress on our KPIs. We also have another person who’s responsible for reporting. So those two work closely together, but the workload becomes a little bit different. So yeah, it’s a lot of work to maintain a website. We are obviously funding the cost of videos, for example, because we don’t have internal capabilities yet to do that. But we do have internal resources for design. And we do have internal resources for video now, which is new, that we can figure out how to tap into. And, as I said, we’re tapping into our colleagues not for their work time, but for their ideas and for the information they have that could develop a story. And then, of course, we rely on partners like thinkPARALLAX to help us write those stories and make them aligned to our tree.

Guusje: Yeah, and so I guess you’re also trying to be smart about what internal resources you can use. So it’s not all the weight of the budget and resourcing really lays on your shoulders and your department. Is that what you’re trying to do?

Samantha:  It does. It comes a lot … It’s still on our shoulders, but how we’re set up to work together is very different from how we were set up a year ago. And I think that will continue to evolve, as well, as we continue to work through what’s working and what’s not. We haven’t got to a point yet because we haven’t added the second wave of content to figure out if there are things that are working or stories that are more compelling than others, right? So those are also … Maybe by next year, we’re not adding seven more stories. Maybe it’s just four because those are the most impactful.

Guusje:  Yeah.

Samantha:  We’re still doing a test and learn, but resources … I think anyone in CSR knows that resources are always an issue.

Guusje: Yeah. That’s why that question comes up, right? Typically small teams, smaller budgets. It’s a big deal. And then you’re going to try to measure how impactful those stories are through web analytics, I’m sure, and those kinds of tools.

Samantha: Yeah.

Guusje:  Yeah, yeah. I have another question here from Goff or Geoff from Telus. “How are you measuring the effectiveness of your strategy with employees and external stakeholders?”

Samantha:  Good question Geoff. So, again, that goes back to we have KPIs for our priorities, but we also set KPIs to measure our own success. So there are some obvious ones like web stats and internal engagement measurements with our employees. So those are obvious. But we have quite a few KPIs to help us measure that. What we don’t have a measurement for, so Geoff if you have a suggestion, is how to measure the success with customers. That would be great because the only way we can really understand how we’re impacting that is actually through some of the reporting. And that’s not a straight line connection to customers and how we’re resonating. We can … other than web traffic, and emails, and engagement with investor relations. It’s not a straight line. So if you have some advice on that, I would welcome it.

Guusje:  Yeah. Yeah. So please share it with us Geoff if you do. And I think it’s really interesting that you said that you also set KPIs for your own team like how do you measure success, and so that’s important as well.

I have here a question from Tyler and the question is, “What role did Scotiabank’s leadership – the CEO and board – play in the development of the framework Better Future, Better Off, and how were they involved in the launch and rollout of the strategy?”

Samantha: So we have a Governance Committee of the board that has oversight for CSR. So we shared with them. I would say that was more of an advisory position where we would share with them what our plans were, and of course if they have concerns with that, they raise it. But we don’t engage them on the day to day task of building that framework. For when we launched it, we had a message from the CEO that went out to all the employees. And also, of course, there’s a letter from the CEO in our CSR report annually, and there’s a letter from the Chairman of the Board annually. So they’re part of the process, and they’re engaged, but they’re not doing the heavy lifting of the developing part, but they definitely help us amplify. So it was great actually to have Brian speak to the employees via our internal channels on our launch day and talk about CSR, and our new strategy and framework.

Guusje: Yeah. That’s wonderful. So then people see that it comes from leadership, as well, which helps of course too. Right?

Samantha: Yes. So then, of course, some of those priority areas are things that are important to him as well. So he might not speak to them in the terms of a priority for the bank, but he talks about them as an area of focus for the business. And the groups that are working on different strategy initiatives, they’ll be working on those things too. There’s lots of ways that it gets full attention of the top of the house.

Guusje: Yeah. That’s great. Real synergy between them. That’s wonderful. I have here another question from Omar. It is, “How is brand leadership building up from this renewed CSR communication strategy? How is the brand being perceived? And is there any reputational edge for this industry competitors?”

Samantha: Great questions. I would say that … So we do a few different kinds of brand studies. One of them comes out in April, so that was too early to give us results for the new strategy. Obviously we’ll see if there was a big impact in the next cycle, which will be next April. There’s also a reputational study. Again, we don’t have results for that yet. We’re still too early in the journey. Again, April was kind of our launch date and we’re only July, so we don’t have enough, but there’s lots of pieces in place where we’re going to be able to measure that, but we don’t have results yet.

Guusje:  Mm-hmm (affirmative) yeah.

Samantha: I can always come and tell you what the results are.

Guusje: Yeah.

Samantha:  I can tell you that our website traffic is up. And I can tell you that our engagement internally with CSR is way up already. But I don’t have stats from research yet.

Guusje:  Mm-hmm (affirmative) Okay. That’s wonderful. And I think this question from Nicole ties into that a little bit. “How are you measuring employee engagement success?”

Samantha: So, again, setting metrics on that. We have a new platform, as I said, it’s a Facebook place for work. I’m terrible at those, so I can’t remember what it’s called ever. I just call it Facebook for Work. Then we also have our internal platform for Scotiabank Live. We are using statistics that the organization uses to understand how people are engaging on those. They’re both social media platforms. Are they reading content? Are they just scanning through? Or scrolling through? Are they connecting on stories and videos? So we’re using that platform in the same way we’re using our external communications. So we’re trying to use videos, and tweets, and Facebook-like posts, and those kinds of things to trigger people to either go and learn more or watch a video. So, again, it’s just trying … We’re playing in the sandbox to see what’s resonating with the right audience.

Guusje:  Mm-hmm (affirmative) Yeah, yeah. But there you can measure already a little bit. You can measure the success on an ongoing basis.

Samantha:  An ongoing basis. And, as I said, all the measurements are up on internal channels.

Guusje: That’s wonderful. That’s early success. Really.

Samantha: Yay!

Guusje:   Let me see if there’s any other good questions here. I have here another question and it is, “What were the challenges of coming up with priorities, specific KPIs?”

Samantha:  Excellent question. Well, so I think I did mention when we talked about it. We started last year with setting directional KPIs. So those are not very meaningful, but it’s a great place to start. If you can’t get the business clients to buy into a target, then you talk about directional KPIs because of course all our business clients want everything to go in a positive direction anyways. So in this year’s report, we talked about how we met or didn’t meet those directional targets. Then we also set specific targets. Again, as I said, we’d like to have longer term targets, but you have to bring everyone along on your journey-

Guusje:   Yeah.

Samantha: So even if you have to do certain things right away, you have to encourage people to understand why you want to set those targets. And why there’s a value to doing that. So I think that next year’s report will reflect a longer term target and also, hopefully, we’ll have different kind of KPIs as well. And there’s a lot of things that we put in place with KPIs because we could measure them today. And a lot of things that we would like to be measuring, so we put things in place so we could start measuring them. And then we could set targets next year, so that we know how to measure them. So it’s-

Samantha: It’s part of the journey.

Guusje:  Yeah. I think that’s a great tip, actually, that you said that if it’s hard to get buy-in on actual targets, that you set directional KPIs is very helpful because I feel that once it’s not as set in stone yet, but people start to get used to it. And then by the time you really make them targets, people are like, “Okay. Let’s go for it.”

Samantha: People go for it

Guusje: Yeah.

Samantha: It’s not any different than your disclosure reporting, right? So you can do the CDP every year, and you can submit to TGSI every year, but if you’re trying to actually improve your score, or be comparative to your peers, or exceed your peers and be a leader on an index or whatever, then you have to challenge your thinking and you have to make progress on areas that might be … Those might be hard conversations, but you have to demonstrate why there’s value to do the business in doing that. And that’s how you get buy-in.

Guusje:  Yeah. Yeah, that’s good. That’s great. Good, well we have about five more minutes, so if there’s anybody else who likes to have any urgent questions, I will keep … Let me see … I’ve covered quite a bit of them already. Actually Geoff mentioned that he would like to connect offline, so we’ll see how we can make that work.

Samantha: Excellent. [Thanks} Geoff.

Guusje: Yeah. Help each other out, right?

Samantha: Yes. Definitely.

Guusje: Yeah, yeah. Good. Well, I think we have really covered a lot of great questions, and I think you’ve really given us a good peek into a complex kitchen of how to go from the what to the why at a really large bank and organizations as yours. I think your passion and enthusiasm for it really helps, too. So it’s really wonderful to have you share this with all of us. And for you participants, thank you so much for being here. With us. If you want to connect offline, please feel free. Let me go to … Actually, there’s one more screen with our contact information. Please do feel free to reach out to us with any questions, or comments, or feedback. We are really happy to hear that. And then, Sam, especially to you. Really thank you so much for-

Samantha: Thank you for having me.

Guusje: Yeah. For doing this with me. It was really fun and insightful. Even though I know a lot about your organization and your journey, I still learned more. So thank you so much.

Samantha: Great.

Guusje: Yeah. We’ll of course touch base really soon, and everybody else thank you very much and have a really good day or evening, wherever you are on the world. And then see you next time.

Samantha: Thank you.

Guusje: Thanks. Bye.

5 Hacks to activate purpose in the workplace

5 Hacks to activate purpose in the workplace

It should come as no surprise that purpose – defined as your company’s aspirational reason for being beyond profit – plays a key role in the direction of your business on multiple levels. Purpose is an overarching “north star” that serves as a guide post for decision making.

Not only does purpose help to recruit and retain top talent, create meaningful differentiation, enhance brand loyalty, build relationships, and establish trust with your customers and partners, but it also helps your business become more profitable. According to a Harvard Business Review survey entitled “The Business Case for Purpose”, companies that “harness the power of purpose to drive performance and profitability enjoy a distinct competitive advantage.”

While there are plenty of articles that show the statistics on how embedding purpose leads to better business, there are not as many that explain the how. Below I’ve listed out easy “hacks” on how you can integrate purpose to start heading in the right direction.

1 . Onboarding

Tell a clear story from the start. During the new employee orientation process, clearly articulate the why to each employee. Have your purpose story straight and make sure it aligns with your values. From there, show how the values ladder up to the business strategy. Zappos defines their 10 core values which guides their culture, brand and business and employees clearly in the right direction from day one.

2 . Employee Development

Helping your employees realize their purpose within the organization is imperative to individual success and in turn, achieving company growth. Where to start? When developing goals for an employee, include purpose-based goals in addition to the typical performance-based goals as part of a yearly review.  

3. Reward

While doing the right thing might be seemingly obvious, much like Pavlov, sometimes incentives need to be put into place to keep employees motivated on purpose. Some examples include gifts, monetary awards, time off, appreciation lunches or drinks and purpose parties – you can implement whatever rewards program best fits your culture. The Society for Human Resources has a slew of programs if you need inspiration.

4. Lead on Purpose

Purpose is difficult from the ground up, so activating purpose should start with your company’s leaders. The same values, mission and purpose that were articulated in the first day onboarding need to be reiterated through actions with leadership. In town halls and monthly brown bag lunches, leaders need to be showing how the company is living the values and how it is driving the business forward. In this articleRichard Branson explains how purpose is not an add-on oran initiative; it is a culture shift that never fully finishes. This mentality needs to come from the top and never stop.

5. Purpose Stories

While doing the work is more than half of the journey, telling the stories is what will motivate and inspire employee and leaders as well as customers and communities. Make a concerted effort with your internal and external communications teams to make X% of all storytelling focused on purpose. You can highlight individual successes, team wins, or new product developments, so long as they align with the company values and purpose. Choose the appropriate platform for the right story and tell the world. Make it contagious. Do you remember REI’s Opt Outside or Patagonia’s Don’t buy this Jacket campaign? We all do, and they are great examples of stories fueled by purpose. Take a look at our communications wheel to see how you can leverage various messages and channels to connect to each audience.

Figure out where an easy entry point for purpose is with your organization and get started now. Don’t forget to tell the story, we want to hear all about it.

The art of modern sustainability communications

The art of modern sustainability communications

How leading businesses are embracing an audience-first approach


While sustainability is not a particularly new concept for many companies, engaging a modern audience with it certainly is. The truth that most of us in this space already know is well-treaded territory: Modern consumers and employees want to purchase from and work for businesses that align with or share similar values. In a contemporary context, running a “good” business requires more than just a growing financial bottom line; it means that organizations also create value for the world around them.

When sustainability is aligned with an organization’s mission, vision, and values, companies often experience a myriad of benefits: enhanced reputation, stakeholder engagement, and increased customer awareness and loyalty — but only if sustainability is communicated in a way that (first) actually gets the audience’s attention and (second) convinces the audience that they should care.

Although interest in sustainability is increasing, a huge gap has opened up between what audiences want to know and what companies actually tell them. Organizations can get caught in a swirling eddy of sustainability data, accomplishments, and accolades — which can be tedious to dig through and frankly not that interesting to the majority of stakeholders. As we see it, many companies still fail to connect sustainability back to the bigger picture or describe why any of this should matter to their audience.

The reasons for ineffective communication are varied: siloed organizational structure, breakdown of internal communication, lack of buy-in from key decision makers, etc. Many companies find themselves handcuffed by the limitations of their team’s resources, capacity, and budgets to meet the requirements of ever-evolving stakeholder expectations.

In any case, the gap between sustainability and effective communication tactics (that engage audiences — not just dump information on them) needs to be closed if we want to unlock the full range of benefits that sustainability can create.

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6 Things to consider when developing a community impact strategy

6 Things to consider when developing a community impact strategy

Last month, thinkPARALLAX supported The Shine Project Foundation, a San Diego-based nonprofit that partners with local businesses and organizations to provide enrichment activities for children in the community who have special needs. We sponsored and volunteered at their Beach Fun Day, spending a sunny morning at the beach near our office engaging with children and encouraging them to get in the ocean or on a surfboard (you can read about why we love surfing here).

Because we advise our clients on their community impact programs, this event got us thinking about how we can optimize our own programs to make them more valuable.

Why are community impact programs important? Not only do they benefit local communities, but they also provide ROI for corporations. In their 2016 Volunteer Impact Survey, Deloitte found that volunteerism can help build skill sets critical to developing well-rounded leaders, such as communication and accountability. Forbes reports that millennials favor working for companies that give back to the community, so offering volunteer programs can help attract top talent. And according to Fortune, volunteering improves your company’s reputation in the community, facilitates networking, and retains employees. The value is clearly there.

So how do you determine where to give, how to engage your employees, and what programs will make the biggest impact for your business? Here are six things to consider.

1 – Connect it with your business strategy.

Don’t just give to save polar bears because your CEO thinks they’re cute or your kids love them. In order to support the growth of your business, your community impact program should align with your overall strategy. Start by considering your industry or vertical and looking for a relevant cause connected to the work that you do. If you’re targeting specific customers, potential employees, or suppliers, support a cause that resonates with them. Our client International Paper depends heavily on forestry, so they support WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GTFN), an organization is focused on eliminating illegal logging and driving improvements in responsible forest management.

How we did: Because the Shine Beach Fun Day event took place in our local community, it was a great way to get our business in front of potential clients and employees.

2 – Align it with company values.

The key to engaging your employees in your community outreach is to create programs that they are genuinely passionate about, aligned with your core values. Allow your employees to decide which causes to support, and offer incentives for participating. You could even give your employees paid days to volunteer, allowing them to choose from a variety of organizations that are close to their hearts. Our client Southwest Airlines encourages volunteerism with their ‘Tickets for Time’ program, donating roundtrip tickets to nonprofits based on Employee volunteer hours. They also have local Community Giving Boards made up of local employees who decide how Southwest will support charities in localized neighborhoods.

How we did: Our employees are passionate about surfing, the ocean, and the outdoors, so the Shine Beach Fun Day was a perfect fit.

3 – Be clear about the commitment and what you are looking to achieve.

Just like with any project, your community impact programs should have clear goals and objectives from the onset with a tangible way to measure results. Be clear about your commitment internally and work with causes that will support your objectives. Our client Qualcomm set the objective of inspiring more girls and women to have a long-term interest in STEM, so they work with the organization WeTech to provide a free girls-only STEM summer camp, measuring the rate of girls who return each summer.

How we did: Our commitment was straightforward. Our cash sponsorship and volunteer time allowed our team to clearly understand our role in the partnership.

4 – Utilize the skills, services or products your company produces.

If possible, look for opportunities to incorporate your business offerings with your volunteer work, which not only helps get employees involved but also showcases your products or services to potential customers and partners. International Paper recently donated 100k of their corrugated boxes to hurricane relief efforts, while Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach social initiative utilizes the company’s advanced wireless technologies to help underserved communities around the world.

How we did: We designed artwork for the Shine Beach Day t-shirts, showcasing our skills as a design agency.

5 – Strategically think about relationships.

Opposed to just supporting a cause that you personally believe in, use your community impact program as a strategy for networking, forming valuable new connections, and ultimately growing your business. Maybe you want to formalize a certain strategic partnership and you’ve read that the organization’s CEO sits on the board of a nonprofit. Or maybe you’ve been courting a potential new client who champions a specific charitable cause. Leverage your community impact programs to connect with the right people.

How we did: We work with the City of Encinitas so our support of the Shine Beach Fun Day was strategic in that realm. There is also an opportunity that the foundation may grow or partner with larger NGOs in the future, opening up more opportunities.

6 – Look for PR opportunities.

Community impact programs give you a compelling story to tell customers, partners, and the general public. Leverage your social media channels, blog, and media outreach to share what you’re doing. Be sure to capture photos, videos, and additional assets that make the storytelling more interesting. You can also increase exposure for your business by partnering with causes or charities that often get picked up by the media, or that have a large social reach.

How we did: While we did take photos and promote the event on our social channels, in the future we could do a better job amplifying our story to the public.

Creating a social impact program that builds business and communities

Creating a social impact program that builds business and communities

A webinar with Qualcomm Wireless Reach


Learn how Qualcomm, a global leader in wireless technology, developed a social impact program that connects their business strategy to benefitting communities around the world through the use of mobile solutions.

In this one hour webinar Kyle Moss, Program Manager of Global Development for Social & Economic Impact, and Hiram Lopez-Landin, Senior Analyst Wireless Reach, will discuss the launch, evolution, and impact of Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative which has now grown to over 100 projects in 47 countries. Kyle and Hiram will also provide insight on how to promote a social impact program and how you can implement a similar initiative within your organization.

thinkPARALLAX Co-Founder and CEO, Jonathan Hanwit, will host the webinar, which will be followed by a live question-and-answer session.

Kyle, Hiram and Jonathan will discuss:

  • How the Wireless Reach program got started and why
  • What the life cycle of a program looks like
  • The value in connecting your social impact strategy to business strategy
  • What was the strategic approach to determining key impact areas (Education, Entrepreneurship, Public Safety, Environment and Health Care)
  • Key takeaways or recommendations for others looking to create a strategic initiative that marries both business strategy and CSR
  • What type of impact Qualcomm has seen with communities, governments, NGO, business development
  • How Qualcomm is communicating their impact to key stakeholders
  • And taking and answering questions in real time

This event is appropriate for purpose-driven leaders, corporate social responsibility (CSR) executives, social impact practitioners, and communication professionals.

Please submit the form to access the webinar recording:



Jonathan: Welcome. Good morning or good afternoon. Thank you so much for joining us for our webinar, that’s gonna highlight Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Program. We’re gonna help you understand the process and benefits of putting a social impact program in place, and the benefit that alters the communities that you’re involved with. And I’m Jonathan Hanwit I’m a partner here at thinkPARALLAX, we are in Encinitas, California which is the north part of San Diego. Sunny side of California, not on fire at the moment.

Kyle: Thank God.

Jonathan: We’re a brand consultancy, and we help businesses articulate, activate and communicate their purpose, to benefit the business and the people they’re involved with. And I’m joined by Kayla Moss, who is the program developer of global development for a social and economic impact. And Hiram, who’s a senior analyst at Wireless Reach. Thank you for being here.

Kyle: Of course. Thanks for having us.

Jonathan: Okay [00:01:00] so we have one hour today, and in this hour, we’re gonna explain how the Wireless Reach started, how it connects back to the business strategy, what kind of a lifecycle looks like for an individual program. The pitfalls and the lessons learned over the last, 10 or so years. And then of course you’re gonna explain how you’re communicating all this all to your stakeholders. And then unless I personally ask you any questions, we’re gonna leave at least 10 or 15 minutes for the audience to ask questions.

Kyle: Great.

Jonathan: Ask questions. So we have a PowerPoint that’s gonna kinda help us, guide us the whole webinar. So I think it would be great for us to get started with how, if you could give us some background on how the program started, and what it looks like now.

Kyle: Sure. So thanks for joining us, we’re excited to trial out this fire side chat, if you will. I’m talking about something that both Hiram and I are excited about passionate about, [00:02:00] and Jonathan who’s been a friend of ours in the Wireless Reach team for so long. And like you mentioned Wireless Reach is actually a program housed within the government affairs, department, or team, at Qualcomm. Which is not a typical place for a CSR, or a social responsibility initiative to sit. But in our case the history was that, our international government affairs team, you know let’s say 15 years ago, when mobile devices we’re as pervasive, and weren’t used to access the internet as easily and readily and all these things that we know, today, they were having these discussions all over the world with different governments, on why and how they should adopt Qualcomm technology. Why should the governments who own this spectrum where our technology lives and operates, why should they release that spectrum to Qualcomm, to test out this technology? Right?

So these [00:03:00] team members of ours went around the world they said “Man if we have a tangible example that we could hand to the government of wherever, South Africa, where we’re trying to trial out reaching, it would be so much easier to explain the benefits of this technology to them.” And so the team got together and said, “What if we as Qualcomm, dream with me here, did something where we utilized grant funding and said, ‘Hey why don’t you as a local organization, a non-profit or a social enterprise, why don’t you, try out our technology alongside us, pilot it out? And then at the same time we’ll then produce a program that can be used as that example of the benefits of our technology?’” So it was this really really great approach where we weren’t set out to say “We needed social responsibility within the walls of Qualcomm more so than we’re already doing, it was our mission our strategy, was that this international team [00:04:00] needed to tell Qualcomm’s story in an easier way to the government, to their stakeholders.

And Wireless Reach has just birthed out of that, which is kind of this incredible way over the last 11 years now, that we approach the work that we do, and holding true to that government relations and that government piece, is working alongside the government, in all of these different areas, to implement social impact programs, for their local communities.

Jonathan: And so do you know where the very first program was?

Kyle: Yeah so both Hiram and I are new enough to the team that, and we can talk a little bit about our spells and whatnot, which we didn’t really introduce ourselves but, I’ve been on the team for about seven or eight years … I should probably look at that. Hiram about a year and a half?

Hiram: Year and a half yeah. And currently manage programs in South East Asia and Europe, and excited to work alongside Kyle, to really provide these innovative technologies that we’re developing and bringing in to local communities to improve their lives.

Kyle: [00:05:00] We always talk on the team “What was the first program?” And we have some of the programs that have been well established even before I started. So some of the flagships that we’ve begun right at the beginning of our initiative. One was in Indonesia, and it was an education program in a really really small remote village, working with Cisco and some other partners, which we’ll get to on our approach to how we work with other stakeholders in this programs. But that was one of the first ones, and it was creating a school for both the students the teachers and then the community to utilize and access the internet, more than they ever would have or ever have the ability to before that.

And then you probably know a lot about our program in India, the Fisher Friend program, which has been also one of the initial flagship programs. And has continued to adapt itself. So we made an investment, a long time ago which has grown and changed and adapted. And we learned a lot from that but that was another initial [00:06:00] program of ours.

Jonathan: I know were getting to it cause I have a lot more questions on that. But the very very first one I know you worked there, but someone from the government affairs put the dots together saying “Well there’s this school that has this problem, there’s a gap here.” And they put it together and they contacted the person from the school board …

Kyle: So the conversations happened very interesting, it was this off site that the government affairs team had and said “Gosh what if we had these programs in place?” And so some people took that to heart on the government affairs team there were a few champions on it that said, “I’m gonna do this. I’m just gonna take the budget that I have, and I’m gonna find a partner.” And we have a office in Jakarta, so we have [inaudible 00:06:38] on the ground where people were saying, “Okay, we would really like to influence these players or these folks or work with these folks or display this.” So it was a few folks that started that were extra motivated to go out and find organizations to work with, that aligned with our government strategies. And then a really active local team, both Qualcomm and [00:07:00] the partner. That was how the final decisions, of the first program were solidified.

Jonathan: Got it. Someone was on the ground.

Kyle: Sure.

Jonathan: So I guess when it comes to running businesses, they’re watching they just think of “Where is there business? What communities are they impacting? What network do they have in place, that could potentially play together?”

Kyle: Absolutely.

Jonathan: I’m gonna go off on a tangent here. I guess we can move on, if Hiram you wanna talk about the impact of that we’ve kind of moved from … Just bring us up to speed. It’s global, it’s massive. You know talk a little bit about, where it’s gotten to today.

Hiram: Yeah absolutely and so as Kayla mentioned we’re a corporate strategic initiative. And we really focus on ensuring that, we’re linking the commitment of quality of the company to social responsibility. And we do it in five different areas, and that’s fostering entrepreneurship, looking at enhancing that delivery [00:08:00] of health care, also improving the education system sort of through enriching teaching and learning, providing aid and public safety, and looking at improving the environment.

And so as we look at our portfolio programs we look at in these five areas. And it’s really strengthened social and economic development programs, most of which are locally run. But in some cases we actually do work with entities that are global organizations that work in different countries. And so today we’re actually celebrating this year our 10th year anniversary and we’re very happy and proud, of the accomplishments that we have.

And you see on the slide, 119 programs since being the inception of Wireless Reach, which is significant and that’s in 47 countries, globally.

Jonathan: Crazy.

Hiram: Right the kind of footprint that we’ve established so far. And we’ve done this together of course with 660 stakeholders, that include non-governmental organizations, often times government institutions as well, academic entities, and the local implementation partners that may be non-profits. [00:09:00] We in some cases also have private sector companies that are helping to do this. So we do this together in a collaborative effort. And we’ve impacted 1200 beneficiaries as a result, which is a staggering figure for a company that’s based in San Diego, that has global reach.

Jonathan: Yeah 47 countries. Then there’s this five key impact areas, so I know that maybe they were chosen before you two were there, but how do they determine how, or whomever you determined those all are the five areas?

Kyle: Yeah so that is a question that we get a lot. It was something that was determined before we came. But we have reevaluated that as time as gone on to say, “Where do we see, grantees or potential grantees in the areas we want to work? Are they prepared to be grantees? Do we come across organizations that could or are working towards a social impact, and then could utilize technology? And then do these areas then still align with what we’re seeing, within that kind of social impact, social entrepreneurship, that innovation space?” [00:10:00] So certainly it was something we established early on in the initiative. But you can also imagine, health care and education are two really big, utilizers in those sectors of technology already. So it’s an easy explanation it’s an easy fit. There are a ton of players in those spaces.

And then, with the other three entrepreneurship which I love to focus on, and that’s one of my protocols my focus areas, it just it kinda bleeds out in to every other area. It costs cuts, is that what you wanna call it? It cost cuts everything. And then in the environment and public safety, just to have a healthy portfolio right. Yeah it rounds it out. They’re a little bit one [inaudible 00:10:46] for us, and maybe a little less heavy in our investment areas but we’re looking to build those out, just like we’ve focused heavily on education and health care and now entrepreneurship. We’re looking at the environment and public safety. So if you’re on the line and you are impact team where [00:11:00] an organization in those areas we would love to talk and, to hear more about what you’re doing and how you’re utilizing technology.

Jonathan: And you vet these grantees?

Kyle: Mm-hmm .

Jonathan: I mean just to be clear you’re not a foundation right?

Kyle: We’re not a foundation we are still housed within the government affairs team. We maybe look from the outside like a foundation because we do provide grant funding. But with that grant funding comes a lot more than what a typical foundation would offer. What comes with that is, a very strong program manager, [00:11:30] you’re looking at that right here. So but a very strong relationship between your organization and our organization, and that could convince us of a lot of things depending on who you are. If you’re a two person start up, then that could be “Hey we’re gonna start from the beginning building your capacity to ensure, that you can withstand an investment of this size. And you can execute on the outcomes we’ve all set and agreed to.” But then if you’re a large organization, it could be that [00:12:00] you’re already really well established, and our grant funding is just going towards more devices in your case.

But yeah it does come along with a relationship, it comes along with other players that we can bring to the table. Like with background in IT tech support when and if needed because we obviously, have a slew of engineers at Qualcomm, we’re 70% engineers so, we’ve got that that comes along with our grants as well. So we’re definitely deeper engaged than what you would typically think of as a foundation.

Jonathan: Right. Much much more engaged. [00:12:30] Which leads us very, nicely into our next slide. Can you explain the process on how you actually choose, the grantee, right?

Kyle: Sure yeah we call them grantees, because they are receiving grant funding …

Jonathan: You mean grant funding is synonymous with non-profit foundations you said that, that’s the right terminology to use.

Kyle: Sure yeah I mean we’re providing a grant. And it’s all at once, it’s one large chunk you get your grant it’s not like we’re giving it to you in segments and installments, you are getting a grant.

Jonathan: One, [00:13:00] chunk of money.

Kyle: Yep.

Jonathan: Which I think you mentioned it’s for two years?

Kyle: Yeah that’s a great question. Most often times we look to make investments in an organization, for a period of three to five years. But what we say is every year it’s a new grant, so it’s a new grant cycle every single year.

Jonathan: For the same-for one …

Kyle: For each grantee after a calendar year they would reevaluate to say “Okay, what are we looking to do now, in this next installment? Are we looking for more grant funding? Or are we just looking to work seamlessly together?” It just depends on the unique implementation.

Jonathan: So does every grantee, each year, resubmit for funding?

Kyle: If they’re interested in continued funding and they’ve used up that grant over the period of the time that they had then yes, they would reapply for grant funding.

Jonathan: So just out of curiosity, how cumbersome is the process of them submitting?

Kyle: That’s a great question. We have done a really really targeted job and we’ve [00:14:00] gone really deep in trying to off load the grant process from a grantee. And we do have a long conversations before the grant process opens, and I’m doing this because this is my calendar year, this is like January to April. And then the May to December time frame is a three round process where we determine, whether or not you will get a grant or, what that grant would be used for, for this calendar year. So what we do is we try to say, “When we invite someone,” cause it’s an invite only process, to apply for that grant funding …

Jonathan: It’s an invite only process?

Kyle: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So that means you have to be invited to apply.

Jonathan: So that means if someone from your team has invited someone …

Kyle: Correct, correct. Yeah and that’s why.

Jonathan: So someone’s watching that sees this they can’t just say “Hey I’ve got a great program in Sudan and ”

Kyle: They can. That’s what we do is we do is we have these conversations in this period of time, you come to us you’re interested in Wireless reach you’re interested in our approach, let’s have a discussion of the next few months from January to April-

Jonathan: To reach out to you.

Kyle: To determine whether or not you would [00:15:00] be a good candidate to go through this, sometimes cumbersome process.

Jonathan: So how do they start of in the beginning by reaching out to you saying “Hey I’m in Sudan I have this need for, X Y Z technology. Can you help those?”

Kyle: Well those are the lines so if you’re ever exposed to Wireless Reach and you’re interested, you could reach out to us. We have a Contact Us form on our website, that would come directly to me. So you would hear from our team directly and we would evaluate “Okay this is an interesting organization.” But back to the conversation of, most of the investments we make, each calendar year are in continuous programs. So there’s a very small portion of grants each year that are brand new, we’re investing in.

Jonathan: How many?

Kyle: So out of our active 40-50 programs every year about five to seven are brand new, three to seven. It just depends, it depends on priorities that year, it depends on those who are interested in applying and the conversations we’ve had in this portion of the year.

Jonathan: Got it. And are you at liberty to say the amount of funding they [00:16:00] can get each year.

Kyle: Yeah that’s a great question. So we don’t talk about specifics, but we do certainly in that conversation time want to set expectations that are appropriate for everyone. And for a new program we look for grant sizes anywhere from 50,000, to about 300,000. And it can very, we’ll certainly work with a grantee to establish what’s appropriate, as they’re outlining what they’re looking to do. So we’ll help them, and guide them to that appropriate amount.

Jonathan: Okay. So basically essentially someone in the field of the government affairs office in that region of the world, says “Hey I see a potential opportunity.” Maybe they get to know the school, or the X Y Z organization. They say “Hey I think this is a good idea for you submit, potentially an application to be a grantee but I see some synergies here .” So how I guess, maybe this is a stupid question but, it’s like 100% strategic in your thoughts around like, “We need X Y Z in this region under entrepreneurship or under health … ”

Kyle: Sure [00:17:00] well that leads us to this slide to like what is Wireless Reach doing? And then the next slide talks us through the criteria we would walk through. So you can see essentially on your screen it talks a little bit about how we’re taking Qualcomm technology, that’s been created by our work force, and we’re utilizing that to show the positive benefits. The next slide talks about how we would go about determining, a selection of a grantee.

So when you come across a grantee, or when we get sent a priority of Qualcomm’s, how much is strategy I think you’re asking, and how much is a healthy CSR portfolio? And we always do because it’s a balance, it’s a very fine line. We as program managers, are identifying, which ideas we’re gonna vet and put in front of our executive committee to be funded ultimately. So a lot of the information we are gatekeepers, does this fit within the portfolio, does it need a strategy and does it have social impact? And does it fit our overall kind of holistic [00:18:00] portfolio look very mature in terms of, a strategic CSR program. So there’s always this fine balance.

We do certainly look at our different business units, and we work differently in South East Asia than we do in sub-Saharan Africa, than we do in Japan or Europe. And I point those out because those are the regions of the world we cover. But maybe you can give an example of working with your local teams and how they help you set a strategy for program choice?

Hiram: Yes absolutely so I can certainly cover that. And I think what’s important and I think Kyle alluded to that is that, our programs serve as proof points to the government and how it’s benefiting, how our access to ICT is benefiting and improving Qualcomm’s, and communities, at large. And so when we look at programs we look at it through the criteria you’re seeing here on this slide, but before we even get there we have internal discussions with stakeholders from our business development [00:19:00] side, our government affair colleagues in region, other groups within Qualcomm and identifying key markets. And also looking at key objectives of the company and government affairs objectives as a whole. So we narrow down regions, perhaps countries, and specific areas from the five areas that we cover from education entrepreneurship public safety the environment. Of course so we look at that and then we have these discussions with partners we start aligning those, with the discussions we’ve had internally.

And when we discuss these potentially opportunities with applicants or grantees, we look at it through these five criteria. So first and foremost all programs that we invest in, need to demonstrate how we’re improving people’s lives through the Qualcomm technology. And that’s really central to all programs that we have, we look at our portfolios of technologies from smartphones to tablets to other [00:20:00] internet of things to devices that can actually be used to be, impactful in those programs. So that is from the get go one of those main criteria. And often times, potential partners come in with an idea already. And in some cases we don’t so we walk, with them through that whole process.

The second it must be in line with one of the five areas, and often times it may be that it’s an education program but it’s also [00:20:30] helping support the environment in one way or another. Or it could be entrepreneurship and nature as well. So it’s gotta align with one of the five areas. And early on in the discussions we tend to figure out where exactly will it fit in those buckets.

We certainly look to collaborate with cultures, in an earlier slide we saw that there were about 660 stakeholders that we work with over the course of the lifetime of Wireless Reach. That’s key to all programs, [00:21:00] we know that when more partners are involved including government agencies, there is a higher likely of investment and also a higher likely of growth and sustainability over the time, that we’re funding as Wireless Reach and beyond. And so that’s very key, in working in programs. It’s great if we can get other private sector companies to fund the program, it’s also great if we can get government agencies to not only support the program, but also come in with in-cash contribution. And you’ll see a slide in a bit demonstrating the types of contributions we’ve been receiving to help support the lifetime of it.

It must meet a community need, that’s point number four. And it’s gotta aligned to some sort of strategy, of the government, whether it’s an objective a policy. It could be through the information of communications and technology department. If it’s an education program it could [00:22:00] be aligning with some sort of ministry of education goal. It could align with ministry of health, it’s a health related program. And so we look at that because of course if we can get the buy in from the government and the program can seamlessly align to a strategy of either a local national or federal government, it’ll be really set for success.

In the last criteria it’s about sustainability and growth. So we tend to find on the annual basis it’s not uncommon for Wireless Reach to be funding two to three years or sometimes a little bit more the Fisher Friend program in India we’ve been funding for quite a bit, and we’ve seen quite a lot of growth over time. So it’s gotta be sustainable and we have these conversations early on with partners and set it up for success because Qualcomm funding, will not be there forever, and it’s gonna dry out at some point. And so we wanna make sure that from the beginning, we set it up so that it’s gotta track or a path for growth and sustainability [00:23:00] over time.

Jonathan: Yeah. Really well said we’re talking to other businesses and our business, and they have not similar programs. The big difference is that it’s extremely strategic and you’re saying “Okay were balancing SSR and the strategy piece.” And then often times we see where they’ve given money or they volunteer time or their services it doesn’t relate back to the business. And it’s like this common problem and I’ve seen this over and over and over in yours, gone through kinda great lengths to …

Kyle: To ensure our own sustainability. From a Qualcomm standpoint you wanna ensure that you’re continuing to infiltrate your own technology. We’re a corporation, that’s why we exist. And at the same time, we can do a lot of good. Especially with Qualcomm technology because it’s incredibly pervasive, why not take something that every one already has and ensure our own sustainability, Wireless Reach’s sustainability, and local organizations sustainability around the world.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Kyle: It’s just a win win around [00:24:00] the world.

Jonathan: I talk about the programs and it’s hard to wrap your head around it cause it’s 47 countries you’re talking to a smaller business for a business that’s only in America, it’s different. But the process and the strategic like how you’re putting everything together strategically, is the same idea needs to be kinda rolled out

Kyle: Yeah and something we both we were at an event yesterday and I love the insight that someone said to a lot of startups and “Don’t try to start a company.” Or “Don’t try to [00:24:30] start an initiate within a company, just have a mission. And then figure out how to mark towards that mission. March mark march towards it right.” I’m getting a light tongue tied but, that’s kinda how Wireless Reach was birthed. It wasn’t like again we set out to have more corporate sustainability actions. Yes we want that. But we want it to be thoughtful, we want it to be strategic so it again helps everywhere. So why don’t we with the goal of helping our international government affairs team, that’s what makes a difference to [00:25:00] us. Right it might not make sense for everyone but if you do set your eyes more on a mission rather than, a company an initiative or we have to have this, I think it does become a lot more authentic in your approach.

Even though we are strategic and we keep talking about that, which we are, I will never hide the fact that we raise the visibility of Qualcomm’s name, we’re certainly a reputation builder, but we’re also really flexible to meet different needs. If we’re in a room with executives, obviously we’re gonna talk about the strategy behind Wireless Reach and you’re gonna talk about it in a different way, you’re gonna have “Oh this is our impact and this is who were reaching. And this is so and so, this is how we’re using devices. Or this.” Or whatever it is right?

But at the same time you can be in a room full of folks that are interested in social impact and talk about the handful stories that we’re gonna talk about next. So we’re flexible. I think that’s a really big, [00:26:00] piece, of why we’ve been successful in the way that we have. You have to be flexible with different audiences when you’re working in this space and when you have that fine balance between strategy and social impact.

Jonathan: Yeah and your audiences are global and the products are so diversified that you [crosstalk 00:26:18]. It says it on one of the slides, but I think it would be nice of me to hear from you, a day in the life of what your job is you traveled around the world like I think you went to Africa, and South of Asia and, remind me where you

Kyle: I know. We’re both everywhere.

Jonathan: Just really quickly remind me of, quick day in the lives of, what your approach to

Kyle: Yeah yeah and maybe we can do both of us.

Jonathan: I think you have one of the cooler jobs in the company.

Kyle: We have the coolest jobs at Qualcomm.

Hiram: We do.

Kyle: We’re very very fortunate … But there’s also personalities like ours that are interested in this not everyone is interested. And the cool thing about our job is that we can tell our [00:27:00] engineer workforce, “Keep doing what you’re doing, because your work is enabling our work.” Which is a beautiful story because not everyone wants to go and you know for me, I go to sub-Saharan Africa and, not everyone wants to go to Nigeria to open a health clinic, to see how they utilizing the tablet, and tracking the healthcare workers there. Not everyone wants to do that but that is our job, to ensure that we know the true impact on the ground of the work that we’re doing, we are, we have to we are required to visit our programs.

Jonathan: Do you fly around, different times?

Kyle: We do.

Jonathan: How often?

Kyle: Well it varies. The goal is to see programs at least twice a year, but that could be us once and then a local government affairs Qualcomm teammate, or it could be a consultant it just kinda depends on each government.

Jonathan: So there’s 119 programs right?

Kyle: Yeah and how we got that 119 is that only [00:28:00] about 40 of those are actively being managed, the rest have been rolled off into sustainability, where someone else is spearheading that. So of those, I’ve got about nine, 10. It does look very different.

It can be a lot of travel, which is very exciting, again for certain personalities. And you know you have to be adaptable, adaptable, you have to adapt [inaudible 00:28:26] you have to adapt to a lot of local culture. I’ve got a story about a program I’ll talk about, but we’re on the phone all the time with these grantees, “How are you tracking towards your progress? What can we help with? Have you identified any new, device you’re gonna use? Have you trained users? Are you talking to local players about X Y and Z?” You know it varies, about what were talking about. We’re reviewing there, monetary evaluation reports which we can talk a little bit more about with the required to report to us. We’re [00:29:00] doing a lot of relationship management and building, there’s a ton of things.

Jonathan: We should get on to your programs, just use that as a test case. I ask too many questions.

Kyle: No that’s great. So Senegal is one of my favorite programs, and all of them are my favorite, all of them are my favorite. So they’re all my favorite but this one is really, unique, in a lot of different ways. We talked a little bit about our Fisher Friend program in India which was a flagship program we’re continuing to invest in, and because we saw the success there in the fishing community using mobile devices, we said “Well wait a minute … ” I’m gonna sound silly but I think we’re pretty much at 70% of the earth is water, we’ve got a ton of fishing communities, why don’t we see if the program in India could be adapted to another fishing community. And because Senegal at the time was a market that was of interest to Qualcomm they were, trialing out 4G at the time, this was a few years ago, we very strategically approached some players [00:30:00] that we knew were active, like active in the local Dakar market and elsewhere, and some of the fishing ports. And we said “Hey, we’ve got this idea. We’ve got some lessons we’ve learned in other fishing communities around the world, do you think it would be of interest to trial out mobile devices in the hands of the fishing community here in Senegal?”

And we got a few organizations that were interested. So we had to work with them like “Oh okay how does this work? What does this look like? What are you trying to do? What would your ideas be? How strong are your relationships on the ground?”

Jonathan: And is this a non-profit that, works specifically with fishing communities?

Kyle: So well what we did was we kinda talked to who we knew was active in Senegal and said “Would this fishing program, or anything of the fishing industry be of interest to you to explore, with the use of mobile devices?”

Jonathan: And I’m not sure mentioned it but Fisher Friend is, they’re using the scheme specifically to, tell them …

Kyle: Sure yeah mobile devices in the hands of fishermen, who then are able with an application that was specifically [00:31:00] developed for their use, can have access to potential fishing zones, weather patterns, government messages about the ocean or whatever it may be. There’s a whole slew of different things that are very specific to a fishing community.

Jonathan: And like market prices?

Kyle: So in India no, but that’s what happened in Senegal was, we had these discussions with local organizations and said “Would you be interested in trialing out with these fishing communities, an application … Do you wanna develop an application alongside of us based on lessons learned in another program for Wireless Reach that would help your specific communities here in Senegal?” So we said “Okay we’ve seen success with this approach, and we have a strategy and a reason to be Dakar, is there a way to do and make a social impact to do a program for Wireless Reach to put on provided grants, and so that’s why happened. So we now have a program called WISE, which you can see on the screen. It stands for Wireless Solutions [00:32:00] for Fishery in Senegal, which is a little loose the term, Wireless W-I Solutions, it was a little stretch. But in any case we call it the WISE program that was not my name … But side note the organization they came to me and said “We got it. We came up with a name, it’s called the Moss Program.” And my last name is Moss and I’m like “No no no no we can’t have a program with my last name.”

So in any case what we did is we adapted it and you say women on your screen because not only in Senegal are we providing mobile devices to the fishing community and fishermen themselves to help with the weather, with where to fish, with what fish are active where. But then like you said “Oh what is the price of these fish now? What am I selling this price for?” Right because then it helps this other group of women, who are the go-between, they’re fish processors. So not only do we work with fish [00:33:00] community, like fishermen themselves, but these women who now buy the fish from the men and process them. So they dry them they salt them they do whatever and then they sell them wholesale to other cooks. So there’s a whole different community, that we needed to learn in Senegal versus India. It was a really neat way to adapt what we already knew, to learn new lessons based on our local contacts and our local needs. And we’ve gone above and beyond the next …

And their application also allows them access to microfinance loans, it allows them access to videos and instruction of, best practices of fishing or fish processing. Health care information that is very pertinent to these specific communities. It gives them a communication platform, so between themselves between the fisher. And like you said helps them, trace the market prices so that they help them understand what’s fluctuating, what fish are going to be available, how that can change. And [00:34:00] it’s immediate it’s readily available. And now the government can go “Okay, now we better understand where fish are coming from, what they’re doing once they’ve been caught, where they’re being sold, how they’re traveling around. And then what the pricing is going to be.” So they can even better understand health, outcomes based on the fish.

So it’s just its crazy things that you’re like, “What?”

Jonathan: The connectivity is just, mind boggling.

Kyle: Yeah and in this piece it was so neat because, when you have that mobile device you also have GPS tracking and that capability. So in this specific program we had a fishermen who this summer, was out on the water, had his device, which he wouldn’t have had otherwise other than this program, so he had his device which he used all the time he uses all the time … But he was about to capsize because something happened to his boat. He would’ve lost his life, he and his crew. And because he had the phone in his hands he was able [00:35:00] to use the GPS to say, “I know that there’s other boats in the area.” He could send out a signal through the application, and they could track exactly where he was. And two boats came to their rescue and saved this fishermen and the crew, because he had access to a mobile device and this specific application.

It’s mind blowing. So we get really excited about that. It’s not an everyday occurrence but it certainly is something that we couldn’t have planned on and we didn’t set out to save lives of fishermen in Senegal, but here we are. We’ve gotten these stories and it’s not uncommon to hear that. So that’s just one example of our entire portfolio, and its interesting because it does touch on entrepreneurship, it touches health care. It touches a little education because you’re talking about, the environment and public safety because we’re talking about … It’s just a unicorn, of a program. So we’re excited.

And the last thing I’ll say about this program and you touched on this a little bit, the goal in this one is to say “How [00:36:00] do we get local governments to buy in so much, that they’re then taking ownership?” And in October, The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, so ICT along with ministry of finance, so national governments, convened a meeting around this program and said “You with this program are already achieving our digital strategy that we set for 2025. Now we want you to take ownership of how we replicate the success in to not only the fishing community at large, but also into other sectors.” So that’s like the exact reason we get so pumped about the work we do. That is goals, we want the government to take ownership for that work. We want them to say “Yes we’re proud of this, this is ours.” So we’re excited to work ourselves kind of out of the equation in a good way. And that’s starting to happen with this example.

Jonathan: That’s nice, that’s a great flagship, kind of example.

Kyle: Yeah.

Jonathan: I [00:37:00] have more questions but I’m gonna hold off

Kyle: Okay.

Jonathan: Maybe Hiram you can talk about this next program. But I’m just curious to think how are often are people that are part of the grantee program, it’s their first time ever using a mobile device. And do you need to something I mean the fisherman travel a lot right how can fishermen  Have they ever even used mobile devices? I mean in general of all programs, how much just ground level education is there?

Kyle: Sure oh so like mobile literacy.

Jonathan: Yeah mobile literacy.

Kyle: Yeah it’s definitely a portion of a lot of the work we do, I don’t know if we have a specific example but, we definitely encounter a lot of what we call as the beneficiaries of a program whom … It’s more rare now that they haven’t had access to a device in the past. I would say at the beginning of our time at Wireless Reach it was more common that they had never had a mobile device, never done email. Or they think Facebook is the internet. “Oh its Facebook it’s there.” And I’m like “Well … ”

Jonathan: Really?

Kyle: [00:38:00] Oh yeah people always think Facebook is the internet. Which is a beautiful platform that connects so many people and does so many things so it’s great. More and more though now in 2017, even in rural areas … And that’s been a lesson learned sometimes is that you go in thinking “Oh let’s provide mobile devices and people already have one or two ” I think mobile devices have now surpassed ownership of toothbrushes in the world so there’s more mobile [00:38:30] devices in the world than there are toothbrushes, which can be used for good things which we’re trying to focus on, and trying to make happen. But yeah.

Jonathan: Dental health issue, hygiene problem. We only have 20 minutes left so let’s move in to your program.

Hiram: Yes yes absolutely so another good example of a successful program with our health core portfolio is actually one in Mexico. So actually one of the leading causes of death is actually Diabetes. And actually in 2015 data shows that in fact 15% [00:39:00] of the adult population had Diabetes, which is a staggering figure and it’s only projected to increase. So what Wireless Reach did is we collaborating with the Mexico for Security Institute, and other partners as well, to implement Wellness in Tijuana. So in essence what this program is doing is it started as a clinical trial, where we were looking at whether in fact a chronic disease care law combined with 3D technology to actually help improve the health outcomes of patients with Diabetes, primarily in underserved communities. And so what we did was we recruited about 300 participants to a study, they’re split in to three groups. The first group of 100, participants, would actually receive the traditional standard of care from the clinic that we’re working with. The second group, the 100, received the more sort of tailored Diabetes care [00:40:00] model with enhanced education. And the third one received that same care model, but in addition had access to 3D technology.

And in essence the doctors, nurses, the patients and also the health promoters, also known as promotoras were able to seamlessly communicate with each other via their 3G phones. They all had access to a digital register system. They also all had access to information about scheduling, patients would get notifications, they had access to an application that provided multimedia information and videos that helped them care for their Diabetes. At the conclusion of this study, it showed that all patients, from three groups, were able to lower their blood sugar levels. In particular the third group that had the access to the 3D technology we saw [00:41:00] a more significant drop in, blood sugar levels. And of course in terms of dropped blood sugar levels, there’s less risk associated with taking care of Diabetes. There’s also less cost associated with paying for care and also, human resources associated with it. So over all, it was so successful. And the findings were actually published in a renowned journal, The Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics, and as a result the clinic, who I’ve been closely working with is now moving from a research program, to actually implementing this in their daily work at the clinic. And even more so now they’re creating a toolkit that can be taken and replicated in country or outside for other, clinics that would actually like to use this type of platform and curriculum, to go through it.

And we’re currently working [00:42:00] with the clinic as well, and partners to update, the application that’s associated with it. So this program gives you an example of, starting from a pilot, research focused, and really to demonstrate how 3D technology can help to improve health outcomes, to then into publishing findings. And ultimately looking not only to implement within the fabric of the work that the clinic is doing, but also replicating elsewhere. I mean overall this is just on the slide here it’s of one of the patients who previously wasn’t taking care of her Diabetes, but because of this program she had access to 3D technology and all the different benefits associated with it. So it goes to show how 3D technology can actually improve health outcomes, over the long term. Just a really great story to tell, and ultimately it’s helping individuals on the ground.

Jonathan: Yeah I think that [00:43:00] all these stories have so many tangible outcomes. When you try to explain even what Qualcomm does, it’s kind of difficult.

Kyle: Yeah it humanizes Qualcomm, and the technology. It’s an easier way to explain, what we do. The cool thing is I love … So this woman, who’s name I won’t use but she not only saw her health outcomes change, and she lost a ton of weight, her family also benefited. And so she had a daughter who got involved not with the devices not in the study but it was like okay, we also see a trickle down effect, where someone I think lost about 60 pounds. I think it was her daughter, but she was telling us some incredible stories of the impact far and beyond what we can even measure, as part of our program. So it was just a really really great, I’m getting goosebumps too because this is our local community, this is Tijuana. So it’s really fun for us to have that local impact cause, we do talk a lot about our goal impact. But we have investments right here in San Diego and right across the border which [00:44:00] we consider our larger community. So we were really excited to consider the outcomes of this program and again that trickle down effect that we saw. Which we also see in a ton of programs. Which is really exciting.

Jonathan: That leads us, easily seamlessly to our next slide of your, accomplishments. We’re down to 15 minutes so …

Kyle: Sure and we can jump through these. We don’t have to talk through each one of them they’re just really neat to see, we require a lot out of our grantees, in terms of very structured monetary evaluation. We worked for the last few years on proprietary system, based on the sales force platform that allows our grantees, to report back to us, what they’re tracking in terms of their outcomes. What they’re seeing, and what their numbers are. And so we work at the beginning in the of proposal process to set a logical framework. Right so to walk through “Okay you’re saying this is what you wanna do but, what are you putting in to it? What are you getting out of it?” We wanna walk through that exercise, so that we all agree as a program manager and we have a monetary evaluation lead, on our [00:45:00] team, so that we all agreed “Okay, these are our top outcomes that we’re all agreeing-like the grant team wants-and we want to talk about it in terms of this program. So how are we going to do that?” I laugh because it’s a multi-tab, reporting structure that each grantee is responsible for on a quarterly basis.

Jonathan: That’s great.

Kyle: Its awesome and that’s why we can very much, strongly stand behind the impact numbers that we do have. And one of those we get rally excited about it is when we make an investment, we can now track that, the stakeholders are now getting back up over a dollar, for every dollar we’ve invested in a program, which is a really really neat story to tell. Like yeah were a grantee funding machine, using technology strategically, but our partners obviously see the value and are matching what we are putting in to that. So both in kind and financially.

We place a very heavy emphasis on tracking and monitoring the success of these programs for the grantees benefit and also for ours. We get excited and we can talk [00:46:00] a little bit about those but, you see the numbers, these talk for themselves.

Jonathan: They can quantify everything. Cause if you need to state the case ever …

Kyle: Precisely.

Jonathan: You have those numbers. I think the next slide is success stories and lessons learned …

Kyle: Sure.

Jonathan: It all sounds like success, that’s all I ever from the outside. So if you could just about lessons learned of things that weren’t successful.

Kyle: Sure. Oh yeah one of our bigger ones was, one of our flagship or our early programs, again in Indonesia, we worked with the Crimean Foundation, which most people are familiar with that name. We pretty, I can’t say completely blindsidedly went in to the program thinking “Let’s provide mobile devices to these folks that are living, under the poverty line, at $2.50 a day or less. Let’s give them devices and it’s gonna be great.” And there was more thought put into it .

Jonathan: For what reason?

Kyle: Well the [00:47:00] biggest reason at the beginning was so that they did have to walk miles to use the phone or, there wasn’t a community phone available so they could then become a community phone. So it was just the use of the mobile device, access to that.

Jonathan: Were they reselling like time

Kyle: They were topping up every time and that was the original lesson learned was, they already have devices. We are not setting ourselves apart by just giving devices, this is a waste of time and energy if we think we’re gonna go in and drop a solution, without having done any of these assessments, and really strongly evaluating, what are they demanding? What do they need? So that was a huge lesson learned was, we need to be very targeted with how we choose partners and programs, so that we understand the local community and what they’re asking for. Or else we will not be successful in using technology. If you’re not using it thoughtfully, it’s not going to be used well.

Jonathan: How do you think, you or whomever [00:48:00] who was part of that, how would that-should they have done it differently?

Kyle: So we learned the lesson very quickly, and what we did is we adapted our approach. And said “What a minute, if there’s already devices in the hands of these folks, how do you we better use the device by offering them services on their device?” So that’s when the air time, re-topping up of air time minutes came in. That’s what we developed we kind of call an app store, for this community. So we developed applications that allowed them access to air time, access to bus tickets. Access to the job market, so a lot of these folks were day laborers, so they would go and they would waste all this time and energy to find a job for the day. So it’s like “Well if we could bring all that information into the phone,” to say like “Oh I’m looking for this job, is this available?” So they could better and more easily get their information more immediately, rather than wasting time and energy.

So there were very specific applications that we birthed, out of this [00:49:00] program, out of this lesson learned, and from that, was birthed a social enterprise called Ruma, who is now operating fully sustainable on their own. It has been for years and have reached millions of customers at this point, using mobile devices and this app store approach. So it’s really incredible that, we were able to learn a lesson, and then adapt really quickly based on what we were seeing.

Jonathan: It’s good to admit you’re not failures. People often  with big corporations they just talk about all the positive things that have happened this happened, we learned our lesson, we grew from it.

Kyle: Failure’s good. You have to fail to know what success is.

Jonathan: Trust me.

Kyle: Qualcomm was founded by seven people in a garage, a den of someone’s homes right? And those original engineers, they failed over and over before they were successful, even with the original demonstration of CDMA technology which is what we know today. I always go [00:50:00] like this, “Where’s my mobile device?” But even with that, they were so close to failing and they ended up having up having to stall and stall. So Dr. Jacob, you know the story yeah, was up there having to like talk and talk until the demo actually worked. And had that not worked, we would not communicating in the ways that we are today. So we are based on good failure, we were founded by good failure. And so is Wireless Reach.

Jonathan: Well communicating is a good segway into almost our last slide. Because, obviously important here we’re communicators at thinkParallax, it’d be great for us to hear from you, from you both how you’re sharing the story, and to whom? audience, and to these folks, these are the methods and the tactics that we’re using, to communicate them.

Kyle: Yeah we are all individual program managers so we can maybe both take this. What I love to say is that, our partners and our grantees, grantees directly and then stakeholders in our program, [00:51:00] we’re there to ensure their success. So their story is our story. And that’s the best vehicle, to tell our story, is through the work that they’re doing locally. So certainly we look to finding opportunities for our partners and grantees to speak and present, and flourish in whatever they’re doing, locally globally whatever it may be.

Jonathan: Are you helping them, facilitate aid? And giving them X Y Z to help them make a presentation? Or are you helping them find

Kyle: Sometimes. Just last week this week actually, the Global Digital Health, there’s a global health event going on, and so we said “Hey were gonna be there, one of our teammates will be there. What if we invited this partner and this partner, from the Philhellenes, from our Fish Farm project, from our Indonesia program. And they all come and they get to present or just be in that space.” Yeah so we do that all the time. And that’s telling our story, its free advertising [00:52:00] for Qualcomm. They’re all excited to have been working with us for this long. So they’re gonna get up and speak about their success and “oh by the way, it was all with the help of Qualcomm.” Which is such a great way to really raise the visibility of Qualcomm everywhere. So that’s the approach that we take and a lot of times what I do is just again, how do I look for opportunities, to gain visibility for my partners?

But you know we obviously use social media we use these kinda thought leadership discussions … Leadership we were at an event yesterday together and I was on a panel talking about the impact from a corporate channel. So yeah lots of good rep channels. But yeah, did you wanna talk more about …

Hiram: Some other examples would include when we do launch events at the program and we reveal them to the public, we invite media to attend. We of course invite all of the stakeholders and grantees to be part of, if it’s a panel or if it’s a series of presentations. We also invite government officials, [00:53:00] we invite the public to participate. And so it’s through that venue that we’re able to begin sharing the success and the stories of the program.

Also it’s not uncommon for us to do international press trips and take journalists with us, to be actually able to interact with beneficiaries themselves and to see for themselves the impact that’s happening locally, and then to actually write a touching story, an impactful story out [00:53:30] of that. Often times [for all of our 00:53:32] programs we take really great photography, we capture video footage that then can even be turned in to, now virtual reality settings so we can actually share it internally, or externally and folks can actually be able to see, have a more immersive experience, with beneficiaries and the work that’s happening locally. So a lot of different ways. And of course also getting selected to receive [00:54:00] a prestigious award at the international level at the local level, and gain the benefit of being recognized for such an innovative program. And it’s telling the story through that. But absolutely the best vehicle is to have our grantees and our stakeholders be able to tell the story, for us. Instead of us up here, telling it.

Jonathan: That much more effect. So we have five minutes left, so if there’s any questions any one wants to ask feel free to do so. I see a couple of them up here. But I guess it’d be good for us collectively while the questions come in, just to talk about how, like I said it’s a business and just think smaller than … How many employees do you have?

Kyle: At Qualcomm?

Jonathan: Yeah.

Kyle: Qualcomm is currently, around about 30,000.

Jonathan: Said you have 300 or 3,000 employees …

Kyle: Sure.

Jonathan: If someone’s looking to start a social impact program, it’s just some [00:55:00] big high level ideas on things they should be thinking about. Think small.

Kyle: Sure sure sure. Well like Hiram said in the beginning, what is your mission? Don’t think outside of what you do. Everyone is doing something, so how do you just use that for good? Everyone should be giving back I think and it’s just my opinion, in your area of expertise. Are you storytellers like your organization? Okay then lets help people tell a better story. Let’s do some of it maybe subsidize cost or whatever it may be, I don’t know. But don’t think outside of where you’re already. Stay in your lane in a good way. It would not make sense for us to go out and put shoes on people’s feet, unless they’re IOT shoes and they did something. I don’t know also tracks their pulse and whatever … Right? You stay in your lane and just do what you do really well, and then just figure out how can [00:56:00] we also do this for good? Right like how can we offer this to a different subset of our community? Think local.

We are in San Diego so we definitely make investments in San Diego, and across the border. So do what you do stay in your lane, and look for the impact you can make with what you know.

Jonathan: So you basically are saying use your services or products, and or skill set within your team, and partner with an organization that aligns strategically with what your business has potentially, use those skills to make a positive impact?

Kyle: Yeah. And another one too is like look at your internal audience, what are they saying they wanna do? If you’ve got a whole team-

Jonathan: Your employees.

Kyle: Yeah right your employees, what do they want to do? And you’re going to be the most successful at whatever you personally all agree upon as either your strength or your interest.

Jonathan: Does Qualcomm at all do that?

Kyle: Oh yeah. This is just one example, Wireless Reach is a part of Qualcomm’s sustainability. We’ve got other efforts that work [00:57:00] with middle school students, we help them learn about stem education and then coding. We’ve got employee voluntary hours, we they can match employees for board service, or for just volunteering where they may be interested. There’s a ton of a different things-We’re a large corporation of course we’ve got those. Wireless Reach is just a more strategic example, of how we both engage employees in what they’re doing and how they can be impactful and then also, be responsible in your community that we’re working in, all over world.

Jonathan: And are they, out of curiosity are employees, asked of what or how they could potentially be involved, based off their personal interest?

Kyle: In Wireless Reach?

Jonathan: No no I wouldn’t Wireless Reach but with other programs that they could be involved.

Kyle: Oh yeah we’ve got a ton of ways for our internal employees to be engaged. Just like week we had a craft fair on campus, and then there were volunteer opportunities [00:58:00] right there like “Hey put together crafts for, senior citizens that are local, or put together … ” I don’t remember what but we’ve got opportunities all the time to engage our employees and for them to volunteer in specific areas they’re interested in, which they can put in, “I’m interested in this, can you match me with a volunteer opportunity, locally or wherever it may be? I would be interested in volunteering with my family, do we have identified opportunities?” “Yes we have a ton of programs just like that.”

Jonathan: Course you do  other question. Let’s go back to [00:58:30] the social impact workplace, should you be thinking like short term long term? It’d be good just to think “Okay what does this look like for my organization?” Of course you’re it should be somewhat long term but “Hey let’s just try something out for the next six months to see if it works.” Cause again you can’t look back before you were there, were they thinking “Oh were this is gonna become 47 countries,” were they thinking that far in [00:59:00] advance?

Kyle: I don’t think at all. Well I’ll first speak to something and id love hear your input but, you hope for the absolute biggest and best, and then you where are you realistically for the now? I think that’s really applicable to the social … If you dream of something and you’re like “I can’t even chew on the idea of 47 countries in 10 years, that’s overwhelming.” Start right now, start here with a small goal. So know hope for that big impact and start with the realistic approach.

Jonathan: Which is  I agree 100% that’s nice to hear it from you and the potential is already there because the infrastructure’s in place for you to be but you kinda started off on this more organically.

Kyle: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jonathan: It’s kinda good to hear for somebody else who has 30 employees or 3,000 employees, just much more realistic.

Kyle: Yeah sometimes it’s just going to an event that talks about social impact, and figuring out what everyone else is doing. Sometimes this is your first stab is being [01:00:00] on a webinar. And I know I we’re out of time do you

Hiram: I think it’s important to recognize that, if you’re starting something or you have something, what kind of value are you bringing to the company? So in our case, our work is uniquely tied to the long term business goals of our company. And we are housed within the government affairs department so we’re very strategic. So we are bringing value to the company long term. And so when you think about initially when you’re starting, start [01:00:30] with that, what kind of value are bringing in to the company? Because when you look at it through that lens, sustainability can be endless. Because there will always be value attached to the work that you’re doing. And so if you start from there, I think that will get you to a place that you may be seeing 10 years from now similar to our we’re at 119 projects in 47 countries.

Jonathan: Yeah it’s, very impressive. All of it. The whole program the idea of it the two of you…

Kyle: Obviously.

Jonathan: Thank you so much for being here. Thank you all so [01:01:00] much for being here. We’re at time so if they have any questions can they reach out to you specifically?

Kyle: Yeah please, we’ve got an email address Again, it will come to me. But that’s our first step if you are interested. Our team is only 90 people, so we will chat and we’ll get you in the hands of the right people if you’re interested in connecting. So please do reach out. Or you can follow us on Twitter, all of the typical social channels, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Even Instagram I think. If you can’t find us then look through and we’re also connected on those platforms.

Jonathan: Thank you very much. Have a really good day, the rest of your week.


5 Tests to sharpen your citizenship strategy

5 Tests to sharpen your citizenship strategy


If you want to reap the benefits of good corporate citizenship — stronger reputation, better employee engagement, greater social license to operate, deeper customer relationships — you’ve got to have an effective strategy. So, how strong is your strategy? What stage of corporate citizenship development does your organization currently occupy? What are you doing well, and what needs to be improved? Do your actions have a unified and compelling “why” at their core, or do your communications feel more like a disconnected hodgepodge of “feel good” stories?

The above questions might not have simple answers. But consider this post – and the following five “tests” – as a simplified starting point to a deeper dive into evaluating the effectiveness of your citizenship strategy.

1. Is our strategy aligned with the CEO’s priorities?

An effective citizenship strategy must be aligned with, not separate from, broader business objectives. If the CEO is talking about citizenship as something that is ancillary to the company’s business objectives, or views citizenship as some kind of penance that must be paid for revenue-generating activities, that’s a red flag.

Managing up, and bringing leadership up to speed, can be a challenge. But to convince a leader who still needs convincing, you’ve got to speak the CEO’s language. Fortunately, the body of evidence that points to the strategic value of citizenship, and can help you make your case, is growing by the day.

2. Are we focusing on what’s material?

For folks who view citizenship through the lens of environmental sustainability or sustainability reporting, the topic of “materiality” can be fraught.

Semantics aside, a useful strategy should be focused on managing the biggest risks and most significant impacts in your value chain. It sounds simple, but you’d surprised at the number of companies whose strategy essentially amounts to: “We focus on the three key areas of people, planet, and performance”. The “3-P’s” alone are not a strategy.

A strong strategy should reflect a more thoughtful prioritization of key issues and should make clear to stakeholders how you determined your priorities, why they are important, and how you’re managing the biggest threats to the future viability of your business.

3. Is our strategy future-oriented and aspirational?

An effective citizenship strategy is a plan for making your ambitious vision a reality. What are you hoping to accomplish? What is your vision for the future, and how does your organization fit into that picture? How will you operationalize in order to make your vision a reality?

The difference between organizations that approach citizenship as an exercise in risk-mitigation vs. those that view citizenship as an opportunity to drive growth is a difference of ambition. Risk-focused organizations focus on protecting what they have; visionaries view citizenship as a tool for driving innovation, creating new markets, and solving new problems with new products and services.

4. Are we addressing opportunities that we’re uniquely positioned to capitalize on? 

What is it about your business model, your people, your processes, your technology that puts you in a position to capitalize on market opportunities, and solve problems in ways that no one else can?

Anyone can cut a check – and there are plenty of good charitable causes to support. But the most effective strategies focus on the opportunities that exist at the intersection of a company’s products and services and the challenges presented by an evolving, resource-scarce world. The most compelling strategies articulate the ways in which a company can both grow its business and solve social or environmental problems at the same time.

By expanding access to wireless technology,Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative is both improving quality of life in developing countries while growing its business in developing markets. It’s a true win-win.

5. Are we creating value for all stakeholders?

A compelling citizenship strategy should outline your plan to create value – not only for your business, its customers, and shareholders – but for ALL stakeholders. For most companies, this expanded list includes (in no particular order) employees, customers, investors, community, NGO’s, government/regulators, and suppliers. Of course there are subsets of each of the above segments; and, your list will need to be appropriately broadened or narrowed, and prioritized, as appropriate for your business or industry.

If the concept of value creation is a new one, or if you just need a refresher, the “six capitals” of the IIRc’s Integrated Reporting framework can be a valuable lens for evaluating your company’s value creation model. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be producing an “integrated report” to make use of this useful conceptual model.

These 5 “tests” are just a sampling of a much broader set of questions we ask when we’re helping clients sharpen their citizenship strategies.

For those looking for a deeper dive into the topic of citizenship strategy development, there are a number of great tools out there that can help. One of my favorites is this simple tool from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship that can help you identify what stage of corporate citizenship development your organization currently occupies, and things to consider as you move forward.