April 2006 
Volume 04, Issue 11 
Main Feature

Leading a 'leader'

A chat with Boeing's new head of Community and Education Relations


Anne RooseveltOne of the Boeing values stated on the company's Vision 2016 mission statement is "good corporate citizenship." The company's efforts in this area are shepherded by its Community and Education Relations function.

A new leader recently was appointed to head this function. In February, Anne Roosevelt was named Boeing vice president of Community and Education Relations. Roosevelt joined Boeing in 2001 as director of Boeing's community and education activities in Chicago, after having served in the fields of philanthropy, arts education and politics.

Roosevelt recently spoke to Boeing Frontiers about what her goals are in this position, how the company's community efforts stack up against those of other corporations, and how the company's new leadership model affects the function.

Q: What goals do you have for Community and Education Relations?

A: Our purpose as a function is to support the business by creating societal value in our community. Our role is to implement the social contract that business has with society. Boeing has a wonderful history of commitment to our communities and an understanding that creating a healthy community is the responsibility not only of each of us, but also of business itself. In order to thrive, business depends on healthy communities.

A major goal is to achieve alignment, especially regarding the resources directed to our communities that C&ER does not directly control. The new External Integration Committee will help that. The EIC is a special team that was launched recently, and its goal is to help shape and align Boeing's official positions on a number of key issues to ensure consistency in the messages communicated to the external community. I will be involved in the EIC along with others representing all business units, functions and the states where we do business.

Boeing is a well-known brand that continues to be recognized for its products and services. It's our goal that we are equally well known for our people's willingness to give of themselves in the communities where they live and work. We'll accomplish that by providing our employees opportunities to give of their time, skills and expertise and financial resources through employee giving options including the Employees Community Fund and company-sponsored volunteerism.

Lastly, but of equal importance, it remains our responsibility to be sure of our due diligence processes and policies for our international and domestic grants. We need to ensure compliance with the U.S. Patriot Act and other legal rules and requirements so that we can avoid risk to the company.

Q: What are we doing well?

A: One of the things we do well is our emphasis on our local programs. We have five basic focus areas. But our strength is that we don't dictate programs from a national level. We look at each of our communities to see what their needs and priorities are. Then we invest in specific ways that benefit the community and roll up strategically to a high-level, broad global strategy. That's one of my goals: to extend the understanding of our vision, mission, goals and objectives globally so we have seamless alignment.

Q: In which areas could we be doing better?

A: There's always room for improvement. For example, we want to refine our investment strategies to have an even greater impact in our communities. Our work is dynamic because people change, situations change, communities change.

We need to continue to examine the way we do business and think of ever-better ways to do it. Our strength is in our network, which is dispersed throughout the company around the world. Local sites are charged with understanding their communities and building the relationships that lead them to know where our unique resources can be best applied. My goal is to strengthen that network, give them the support they need, and help them to become better community investors and business partners.

Q: You mentioned the five C&ER focus areas for Boeing in the United States. What are they, and do you believe they make up the right "mix?"

A: We assess our goals on an ongoing basis. We see these five areas as complementary and integrated. For example, the world needs an increasingly accomplished work force to meet the demands of the 21st century and beyond. In response, C&ER is concentrating on developing well-rounded individuals who will be capable of high performance in a demanding environment in the future. We help develop those individuals in a number of ways:

• We're investing in public education strategies that lead to better school leaders and teachers. We invest in early childhood education so that children are ready to go into the classroom and have the capacity to learn. We're looking at our universities and making sure they turn out the kinds of qualified individuals needed to teach.

• We support the kind of cultural opportunities that help challenge citizens with diversity of thought and new ways of looking at things. That's what helps all of us to be more critical thinkers and more creative.

• We are concerned about how our civic organizations are performing the functions of informing and creating a lively citizenry to understand how democracy works, what our citizen responsibilities are and how we can improve our communities from a civic standpoint.

• Regarding the environment, it's important for our communities to work together with all stakeholders to create a sustainable environment.

• And then there's health and human services. We have a historic commitment to addressing basic needs, but beyond that we are committed to helping people find ways to become economically self-sufficient so they can be productive, contributing members of society.

Q: What about Boeing's community activity outside the United States?

A: We're on the right road there. We're fairly new in terms of community investing in international sites, but we have a very impressive and engaged international network that's focused on their communities. In our domestic sites, we work to improve the communities in which we work and live. That strategy rolls up globally.

Q: In terms of being a good corporate citizen, how does Boeing compare to other major U.S. companies?

A: We're a leader in many areas now. But because of the atmosphere of change we are in--change in Boeing, the business world and in our communities--it's time for us to step forward and be even more of a leader. We want to be a valuable member of the community and a neighbor of choice, both locally and globally.

For more information

For more information, visit the Community and Education Relations site on the Boeing Web at http://community.web.boeing.com. Additional information is also on the C&ER page on Boeing's World Wide Web site at http://www.boeing.com/community.

As a non-consumer company, we don't have to be bound by marketing constrictions to accomplish this. We have the opportunity to set up models of doing good for a community--and reinforcing that it doesn't need to be about selling products or building reputation, as it is in some companies. Setting out to build a reputation is a little backwards, I think, because then it's all about you. I believe if you first and foremost set out to do good, your reputation builds itself.

Additionally, many companies consider their community relations activities to be "nice," but not necessary, not as a real contribution to the business. The smartest companies, such as BP or General Electric, know how smart being sincerely good can be. Boeing has been a pioneer in this regard.

Q: Boeing recently introduced four growth and productivity initiatives, as well as a leadership model. Do these apply to Community and Education Relations?

A: When I heard [Boeing chairman, president and CEO] Jim McNerney lay out a new Leadership Model, I could see our work in it. We're in the business of charting the course. We work with our communities to establish where we want our communities to go. We're all about inspiring high standards and good values, not just externally but also internally.

The heart of our company is our employees. The work we do enables us to bring their community commitment full circle to inspire them to be even more generous volunteers, more responsible to their communities, more active leaders in their communities. That spills over to their performance at Boeing: If they feel they live in a supportive environment, I believe they will do even better work because they see the company's commitment to the quality of life of their communities.


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