How to Win a Citizens Award? Triple Bottom Line Attitude

BCLC just launched the nomination and application cycle for its 2013 Citizens Awards. These are important awards for the field; companies, local Chambers, and NGO partners are well served to go through the submission process.

For the past few years I’ve had the privilege of serving as a first round judge for the “Citizens,” as they are called (one day will this slip off the tongue as easily as “The Oscars” ?). The application and evaluative criteria call for companies that take a strategic approach to social challenges. This means businesses which define, create, and measure “shared value” outcomes and which integrate responsible practices into business strategy.

In the past, my role in reviewing applications has not only exposed me to inspiring corporate initiatives, but has also offered a window into the struggles of how companies frame and communicate their corporate responsibility (CR) practices.

The Citizens look for companies, like last year’s Corporate Stewardship Award winner, nutrition and life sciences company DSM, that are on the journey to make CR the way they do business. For DSM this means innovating products, services, and business models that support access to nutrition, as well as inventing new bio-friendly materials, and adopting processes that reduce their environmental footprint while containing costs.

What doesn’t fly with judges are applications that boil down to this one sentence: “Our company has a long standing commitment to our founding values as evidenced by the $X dollars we donate, and the Y hours we volunteer.” Contributing cash and volunteer time to the community is great. But what makes the Citizens so compelling is that these barely serve as table stakes.

The process of completing the application itself can be an invaluable excuse to collaborate with colleagues on how CR currently embeds in the business, and how it should do so going forward. Benefiting from the Citizens doesn’t require a trophy.

This year, BCLC has focused its Awards categories on some key areas that its business and community partners prioritize. Along with the Corporate Stewardship Award and the Best Partnership Award, The Citizens will feature the:

  • Best Commitment to Education Program Award
  • Best Community Improvement Program Award
  • Best Disaster Response & Community Resilience Program Award
  • Best Economic Empowerment Program Award
  • Best Environmental Stewardship Award
  • Best Health and Wellness Program Award

The Citizens are not only useful for recognizing great practices; they can help motivate companies to take their CR to the next level as well.

I encourage you to apply to this year’s Citizens Awards. BCLC is accepting applications until May 31 and the nomination kit is online. Now in its 14th year, the Citizens are an opportunity to showcase the positive impact your business has in the community.