The successes of communities and companies are deeply intertwined. Communities give companies their social license to operate; provide critical business inputs such as talent, raw materials, social services and infrastructure; and create demand for products and services. Companies provide jobs, economic investment, and civic philanthropy. When this relationship works, companies and communities both prosper.


More than ever, people are looking to business leaders to invest in communities and society, helping to solve complex social problems, reduce negative externalities locally and globally, and improve the quality of life for citizens at home and abroad.


At CHL, we are working to study and publicize leading practices that organizations use to engage their communities and help them prosper. We currently focus on:


  • Employee engagement in community and society volunteer initiatives
  • Business leadership in multi-stakeholder community partnerships
  • Company-level purpose, strategy, and leadership practices that align business, community, and societal interests



CHL Research


The Third Wave of Company Citizenship: Partnerships for Community Prosperity

This white paper showcases three examples of business-led partnerships: Itasca in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Talent 2025 in West Michigan, and the West Side Total Health Collaborative in Chicago. In these three initiatives, CEOs are forming alliances with local community stakeholders to address long-standing social and economic issues. The paper outlines three business disciplines and three leadership principles of successful business-led partnerships.


Recommended Resources

To learn about the many dimensions of how businesses can create community and societal value, we recommend the following resources.



Resources on Company-Community Engagement


The Collective Impact Forum is a joint effort of the Aspen Institute and FSG that aims to accelerate the effectiveness and adoption of collective impact—a framework for cross-sector collaboration to address complex social and environmental challenges.


The Shared Value Initiative is a global learning community of leaders who are driving the adoption and implementation of shared value strategies among leading companies, civil society, and government organizations.


CECP is a CEO led coalition that believes that a company’s social strategy — how it engages with key stakeholders including employees, communities, investors, and customers —determines company success. CECP publishes an annual Giving in Numbers report on corporate philanthropy and employee engagement, based on survey data from hundreds of companies.


The Democracy Collaborative is dedicated to building community wealth, and works with anchor institutions such as universities and hospitals to help them reflect on and assess the long-term impact of their activities, and particularly their impact on low-income communities.


The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship helps its members advance their corporate citizenship efforts through research, executive education, and networking opportunities. The Center publishes an annual Community Involvement Study and Community Involvement Technology report.



Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility


The Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote a thriving economy and expanded opportunity for all Americans through sound public policy.



The Global Reporting Initiative and the International Integrated Reporting Council both offer methods for organizations to measure, report, and communicate on their environmental and social performance, including engagement with local communities.


FCLTGlobal is developing practical tools and approaches that encourage long-term behaviors in business and investment decision-making.


Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy.



Several firms, including RobecoSAM,  MSCI ESG Indices, and FTSE4Good conduct environmental, social and governance analyses of companies, and provide investors (both asset owners and asset managers) with the tools and data to compare and contrast ESG performance of companies across sectors and regions.


AccountAbility’s principles-based Standards and Frameworks is used by a broad spectrum of organizations to demonstrate leadership and performance in accountability, responsibility and sustainability. The AA1000 AccountAbility Stakeholder Engagement Standard (2015) is the most widely applied global stakeholder engagement standard.


The Reputation Institute publishes an annual corporate social responsibility (CSR) rating that measures the emotional connection consumers have to a brand, on the dimensions of Citizenship, Governance and Workplace.