Presenting the BCLC Issue Experts

How business addresses ethical, social, and environmental issues has never been more complex or diversified. Indeed, one of BCLC’s current projects is to create a social issue classification system to help organize how we analyze and report on positive business impact. Business has a great story to tell, but one of its great strengths is also one of its great challenges – the number and scope of business advancements in society are enormous. No single person could possibly cover all of these issues, so BCLC has resident staff experts to cover important parts of the story. 

Without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to introduce them and what they will be working on in the fall.

Taryn Bird

Taryn covers emerging market development, social entrepreneurship, and organizational capacity building for BCLC.  For the first six months of this year, she took a sabbatical to work with women business owners in Rwanda to help them get into global supply chains.  She has pioneered BCLC’s volunteer technical service (called “BusinessCorps”), and she also leads BCLC’s engagement on women and girls empowerment,  water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs, and food security.  She is working on a report on The Role of Business in Emerging Market Development, and has developed a very interesting line-up of speakers for BCLC’s Global Conference, CSR: Business Solutions for Emerging Markets, on October 10-12. Taryn says the opportunities are rising for global companies to build local capacity in key growth markets and solve community challenges through traditional financing, innovative technical expertise, and leveraged partnership development. Contact Taryn to work with her on these issues.

Hanna Felleke

Hanna covers health and wellness for BCLC.  She is currently working on a report on The Role of Business in Health and Wellness Innovation, which is due out in December.  (If you are interested in contributing an article to this publication, the deadline is October 1. Contact Hanna for details.)  Within the health and wellness space there are many significant sub-issues.  Hanna says that lately, companies have been focusing a lot on childhood obesity and nutrition in schools, but also that a significant group of companies have been addressing veterans’ support issues in innovative ways.  Hanna also covers diversity and inclusion for BCLC, and she says that this space is also rapidly changing.  It is becoming less about recruitment and more about advancement and developing alternative perspectives on business problems.  She says that another important theme in this space revolves around addressing poverty, under-served communities, and helping potential entrepreneurs and workers from low-income backgrounds to succeed. Contact Hanna to work with her on these issues.

Catherine (Kitty) Keller

Kitty is BCLC’s director of communications and expert on social media.  She speaks and writes about how companies communicate corporate citizenship with key stakeholders through both traditional and social media.  She says that CSR managers face multiple communication challenges these days.  First, she says there is a lot of jargon – and she underscores this: A LOT of jargon – and the vocabulary means different things to different people. Second, she says that there is an inherent public obsession with focusing on conflict and negativity. Good news can get lost in the noise. So even though companies are making enormous, unprecedented contributions to important social challenges, un-packing those stories in a way the public cares about remains a key opportunity. Third, there’s the challenge of context. Diverse audiences will consume the same message in different ways, which becomes especially complicated when key audiences need to advance their own interest areas. Similar to the opportunity to un-pack the corporate citizenship story, Kitty says creating context around impact is rising in importance. BCLC always welcomes guest contributors to BCLCblog. If you would like to help address these challenges or share a story, contact Kitty

Jeff Lundy

Jeff heads up BCLC’s research services. He has spent the past year building up BCLC’s methodology and understanding of how companies classify and implement projects. He has already gathered significant data about many companies and is working with his team of research assistants to canvas more than 100 companies by the end of this year.  BCLC’s Business for Good Map is one of the most frequently visited media properties of BCLC.  One of the major perks for BCLC supporters is their ability to jump to the head of the line for BCLC’s analytical services, and Jeff says that he gets requests for information like benchmarking industry CSR practices, identifying helpful nonprofit partners, and analyzing how different businesses tackle issues like education or volunteerism. Contact Jeff.

Gerald McSwiggan

Gerald covers how business interacts with the natural and built environment. He has been at the forefront of advancing the country’s understanding about the role of business in disaster assistance, response, recovery, and resilience. He has led BCLC’s response to hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, droughts, and other extreme weather events and natural phenomena.  He is assisted by Chris Ryan, BCLC’s coordinator for environmental innovation; Ines Pearce, BCLC’s manager of the Disaster Help Desk for Business; Ollie Davidson, BCLC’s senior advisor for disaster response; and Chris Carmody, BCLC’s senior advisor for environmental innovation. It is currently the middle of hurricane season, and recovery efforts in places such as Joplin and the Gulf Coast continue to be priorities. However, Gerald says that we can’t just focus on urgent crises – we also have to look at the long term, systemic issues that communities face. This fall, he is taking a look at perennial high-probability disaster sites, and working on frameworks to promote regional resilience and sustainability. Contact Gerald to work with him on these issues.

My Fall Focus

This fall, I am concentrating on three issues:

  1. business culture and leadership
  2. social metrics and valuation
  3. emerging trends like Conscious Capitalism

I continue to be preoccupied by business and society relations and how to build up trust and partnerships to get good things done. The complexity is a good thing, but a challenge too. This is why one of the central, underlying themes of our upcoming work is organizing, clarifying, and systematizing how business makes a difference – and what needs to be done to empower it even more.

For more information, visit our website and contact our issue leads any time.