By John Howell
From medieval occupational guilds to today’s purpose-driven associations, professionals have gathered to share best practices, enhance professional development, and learn how their peers are addressing issues. And, of course, they join together to participate in the crucial network building of like-minded individuals and businesses that yields both insights and new business.
The Corporate Responsibility Association (CRA) is a state-of-the-art business association for those companies and organizations that have or desire a strong focus on CR. Founded in 2007, the CRA was acquired last year by 3BL Media, the leading distribution service for news and information about corporate responsibility and sustainability. Today, the Association is stronger than ever. Members connect in a variety of ways: at the annual COMMIT!Forum conference, through the Brands Taking Stands Newsletter and the CR magazine, and in Thought Leadership Councils, monthly meetings organized around specific subject areas within CR.
Creating multiple paths for collaboration is the CRA’s topline offering throughout all of its programs and services.
“To me, the biggest value of the CRA is what I call ‘collaborative co-creation,’” says John Friedman, Sustainability Manager for WGL Holdings and co-chair of the CRA’s Thought Leadership Council on Communications.
“The CRA provides a welcome and safe space in which to share and synthesize ideas that are truly world-changing.”
WGL has been “very good” at corporate responsibility, says Friedman, since the utility’s founding more than 170 years ago. “Now, we’re doing even more communicating about what we do in CR, and in several ways: events, digital media, our sustainability report, and even traditional press releases. For us, CR is something we do from a business standpoint—sustainability initiatives and our business strategy are the same. The CRA offers us a valuable platform for expanding on our CR efforts.”
For Friedman and WGL, the 2017 COMMIT!Forum offered “good content and a crowd of good people.”
Lynne Filderman joined the CRA team last spring as Executive Producer of COMMIT!Forum after years as an executive advisor for Booz Allen Hamilton and working in strategic philanthropy for America’s Charities. From those positions, she watched CR grow as a profession. What struck her immediately upon working with the CRA to produce the conference was the organization’s significance as the voice of CR.
“I realized very quickly that the CRA was an exceptional organization with very engaged members,” says Filderman. “It serves as a valuable catalyst and a convener of CR strategies and messages.
John Howell is a co-founder and the Editorial Director for 3BL Media. He is the editor of the Brands Taking Stands Newsletter, a weekly update on issues of importance to the CR community.