Crash Course: Corporate Social Responsibility and the Startup Community

While corporate philanthropy may have been a pet charity or tax strategy in the past, it is today a means of communicating corporate values that extend beyond near terms profits.

Tags: Entrepreneurship

This Crash Course considers corporations’ responsibility to society and ways in which for profit businesses can exert positive societal influence that extends beyond a core business model. Some businesses exist primarily to create positive social impacts while others see their purpose for existing as limited to only maximizing shareholder returns. Many, if not most, sit somewhere in between. Join Silicon Flatirons for an examination of corporate social responsibility (“CSR”).

Defining and understanding the impact of CSR is increasingly important. While corporate philanthropy may have been a pet charity or tax strategy in the past, it is today a means of communicating corporate values that extend beyond near terms profits. Further, some evidence suggests that effective social initiatives are a net benefit even to companies’ bottom lines over time. On the other hand, skeptics view CSR as cosmetic window dressing, while others argue that businesses lose their core missions when they choose to pursue objectives beyond profitability on behalf of shareholders. This Crash Course will consider these issues.

In particular, the CSR Crash Course will address the following:

  • What does “corporate social responsibility” mean today
  • Why focus on social responsibility
  • How to get your business involved effectively

Ryan Martens
Ryan Martens is the founder and Chief Technology Officer of Rally Software. Ryan started Rally to change the technology industry by moving it from a slow, wasteful product model to a fast, sustainable service model. He is an expert in helping companies adopt Agile and Lean practices, loosely defined as methods for delivering small batches in quick cycles to speed learning and innovation. Ryan heads the Office of the CTO team, which manages Rally’s strategic steering process as well as professional services innovation.

In 2012, Ryan launched Rally For Impact, whose mission is to mobilize citizen engineers to solve the world’s toughest problems. Ryan’s vision of a tech company with a social mission led to Rally being placed on B Lab’s Best For The World list (2012), Rally’s status as a certified B Corporation, and Ryan’s talk at TEDx MileHigh, among others.

Geri Mitchell-Brown
Geri Mitchell-Brown is a passionate champion of corporate citizenship strategy, partnerships and programs that strengthen brand value, elevate company culture, inspire employee pride and better our world. She most recently served as Polycom’s Director of Philanthropy & Community Relations, leading the company’s charitable efforts worldwide.

As a panelist, Geri will share insights from her current research project on CSR initiatives of Boulder-area businesses.

In 2005, Geri was honored with the Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty award for “young, dynamic business leaders whose efforts in the office and in the community are shaping the future of the Denver area”. She holds a M.S. in Interdisciplinary Telecommunications from CU and a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Northern Colorado.

Mark J. Loewenstein
Mark Loewenstein practiced business law at a Chicago law firm before joining the Colorado Law School Faculty in 1979. His extensive scholarship centers on business associations, agency law, and securities law with a particular interest in corporate governance. In addition to his work at Colorado Law, Professor Loewenstein has contributed to securities and business law in Colorado as a member of the state’s Securities Board and as a member of the Colorado Bar Association’s Corporate Law Revision Committee, including serving on the subcommittee that drafted the 1994 Colorado Business Corporation Act. For more on Professor Loewenstein, see:

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