Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards Finalist Interview with Dr. Charles Thomas, Jr., Senior Project Leader, LMI
1. Why do you believe CSR strategy is important for a company/you?
CSR is important to me because I feel that we are obligated to engage others in a manner that adds value to the human condition. So often people feel that they have to walk alone when in actuality, they don’t have to walk alone. Since I am cognizant of the fact that people may not feel comfortable in asking for assistance, I think that it is important for others to initiate the process. There is nothing wrong with asking for help and there is nothing wrong with offering to help. At its most fundamental level, CSR engagement creates a culture of community, connectedness, and commitment to the advancement of others.
2. Do you believe that the CSR work you participate in should be affiliated with the work you/your company does? For example, should an Oil company’s CSR be in cleaning up oil spills?
Not necessarily. I think that CSR work should be done in order to add value regardless of the work a company does. As long as the CSR activities in which I participate align to my value system and does no harm to others, I feel comfortable engaging in CSR activities that are external to the offerings provided by my organization. I believe that if individuals or organizations have the resources (financial capital, intellectual capital, connections, etc.) to engage others in a meaningful and thoughtful way, they should do so.
3. What makes you/your company stand out compared to other individuals /companies participating in CSR?
I do not think that my CSR efforts exceed those of others engaged in similar CSR activities. My parents instilled in me, at an early age, the importance of authentic engagement. The highest standard that my parents set for me as a child was to “do my best” and “push others to do and be their best.” That standard still rings true for me today. My objectives are simple. I want to connect with others in a meaningful way, offer services that add value, and create opportunities to offer knowledge and insight on various issues that might spark a change for the better in another.
4. Do you believe contributing back to the community allows you/your company to have a deeper connection with your/its consumers?
Absolutely. Community connectedness offers value to all parties involved. Offering individual and team talent to aid in community endeavors shows a commitment to others, breaks down barriers between people, organizations, and industries, and creates more opportunities to further solidify positive relationships, which ultimately leads to deeper connections with consumers. It is a virtuous cycle in one’s favor. As the popular adage states, “No one cares what you know until they know how much you care.”
5. What are some events or causes that inspire you and your team?
Human services such as restorative justice engagements, leadership development, community engagement, and the opportunity to teach others inspire me. Words mean nothing if one’s actions are not representative of those words. “Do not judge me by my words, let my actions speak for me” is a motto that resonates with me. Reason persuades, words motivate, and actions inspire. When I experience the power of people in solidarity for common causes, I am also inspired to be and do better.
6. What advice would you give to individuals/companies trying to participate in CSR?
Follow the advice of the people at Nike…Just Do it.