Amber Ledgerwood, who completed CESR’s Certificate in CSR (CCSR), has a great job at a company she respects. At the beginning of 2019, she was working at sales at SES, a satellite communications company providing critical connectivity to customers around the globe. She started there working with NGOs and this piqued her interest in mission-oriented organizations, and she wanted to learn how to apply what they do to the business environment at SES. In part because she was working with nonprofits, Amber was interested in learning more about corporate giving programs, and how to align corporate philanthropy with business strategy. She appreciated that her CEO talked about how he wanted everyone to feel like they are making a difference every day, and she was intrigued. So Amber signed up to participate in the online class of CESR’s Certificate in CSR (CCSR) to learn more. By the end of the first class she was fired up. That first session introduced her to the idea that CSR is not one specific initiative, but a way of doing business. And she realized that while SES is already making a big impact, there was an opportunity to measure it and talk about it.
Internally, across the company, others were also starting to come to similar realizations about the ways impact should be driven into the business. About half-way through the CCSR class Amber reached out to those internally with her ideas for how to assess SES’s impact, and communicate it to various stakeholders. Her pitch included conducting a B Impact Assessment, materiality assessment, corporate giving inventory, and to assess alignment with the UN Global Compact - all things she had learned about in the CCSR program. After several conversations and some internal pitches, the company started down a path to take a holistic approach to CSR.
Amber had tapped into existing excitement within SES. There were already people talking about how to set environmental targets, the General Counsel’s office was looking at environmental, societal and governance (ESG) policies, and there were folks exploring how to increase diversity. Amber’s suggestions would bring these programs together to look at the question of CSR holistically. At all levels of the company people were excited by the opportunity to coordinate their actions, and Amber was given responsibility for implementation. Since then Amber has been able to engage employees from across the company, including setting up an ESG Working Group internally to drive changes into the business.
Peer connections in an engaged network
The online CCSR class fit well into Amber’s life. It was scheduled after work, and while classes ended at 8pm Amber says she could have stayed online another two hours to go deeper after every session. There were quite a few people in her class who lived close by, and they got together outside of class a couple times. The class also continues to use the email list to connect with one another. Now that she is practicing CSR Amber uses the network to ask about what other people are doing, and to get practical advice on specific projects or find resources within the industry.
Amber’s favorite class was on business and the environment. It made her realize how big an impact companies can have on climate change. She recognized how a company like SES could be doing more to drive innovation in their industry. She also got a lot of value from talking with participants in the class who worked at nonprofits. These classmates showed her how they think about industry partners and she got insight into how NPs approach the world's problems. It changed her perspective of her own work from that of a traditional sales relationship to more of a partnership.
CSR is good for everyone
For people who want to become a CSR professional Amber says “go for it” and sign up for CCSR. For her it was a good chance to evaluate her career and start to make a shift. More than that, she says it broadened her world view. She purchases clothing differently now and understands how to look at a sustainability report to assess whether companies are being responsible members of our society.
Amber believes that CSR is ultimately everyone's responsibility. In Amber’s vision of the future everyone in all companies will be thinking about purpose, and how their decisions are advancing the general good.
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