Lead by Example: Corporate and Social Responsibility is the Future

Aug. 1, 2022

Today, companies and leaders are pressed to find solutions that are both people and planet-focused. Relevant businesses have values that are clearly defined and articulated and these same values lead future growth.

Recently, at the annual Hawaii Business Magazine Leadership Conference, on a panel titled This is the Future You Need to Prepare For, three Hawaii business leaders shared how they’re moving their teams and companies forward in this new era:

  • Rick Ching, President and COO of Servco Pacific Inc.
  • Bob Harrison, Chairman, President, and CEO of First Hawaiian Bank
  • Doug Johnstone, Hawaii President of the Howard Hughes Corporation

Rick Ching is Chair of Aloha United Way Board of Directors and Doug Johnstone also serves on Aloha United Way’s Board of Directors. First Hawaiian Bank, Servco Pacific Inc, and Howard Hughes are all strong supporters of AUW.

The three discussed what it means to lead successfully and what the future of leadership looks like. It quickly became clear that social responsibility, corporate and personal values, and the future of Hawaii was never far from their minds. 

Do as I Do and Walk the Walk

“Do as I say, but not as I do is no longer acceptable. Living the culture and values of a company is essential as a leader,” said Rick Ching. As a leader, if you’re talking about the importance of our community, your commitment should be visible. Employees and clients see what you do and pay attention. As a leader, you are an influencer, an example, and an inspiration.  

Leadership Exists Everywhere

“Informal leaders are important and they can exist at any level in your organization.” First Hawaiian Bank’s Bob Harrison talked about how leaders emerge by taking a stand for something and leading the way, adding, “There are shining moments and sometimes when you see that, no matter where it comes from in the organization, it should be supported.”

Invest in Progress

“Go out of your way to invest in progress.” Harrison shared why First Hawaiian Bank continues to make critical community investments. The three leaders made it clear that business practices and efficiency are important, but no company lives in a vacuum. Whether it is investment in alternative forms of fuel or human services, good leaders invest in progress. “We have to decide our way forward,” said Bob Harris.

You Have to Answer the Why

All three emphasized how easy it is to become mired down in creating greater efficiency and losing focus on the “why.” Doug Johnstone shared what has kept The Howard Hughes Corporation so focused. “As leaders, you can’t forget why you are doing the work. It’s your north star. Every day, we are clear about the reason why we do what we do and it brings meaning to our work.” Johnstone explained that the recent real estate developments actually translate to improvements in living, transportation, tax revenue, and environment. The work goes beyond the mere construction of a building or two. To lead means to bring everything back to meaning and purpose. If you can answer the why, leading becomes easier. 

Have a Values Agenda

You can’t function without a values agenda today. When asked the value of taking a values stand, First Hawaiian Bank’s Bob Harrison said, “First Hawaiian Bank recently doubled-down on health and human services investments. We know that we have an obligation to help those who are struggling and that our future as a state depends on taking action now.” He went on to explain that the decision to help people who are struggling comes down to articulating a values agenda. All three leaders shared that building community, no matter what line of business you’re in, becomes the most fulfilling part of the job.

For more than 100 years, Aloha United Way has worked to advance the health and well-being of our community. As an organization, we work with 1,000+ workplaces to establish a corporate social responsibility agenda and align corporate values with community need. 

Workplace giving campaigns also serve to bring employees and leadership closer, improve morale, and build a stronger community. If you’re interested in learning more about this program, contact us at fundraising@auw.org and help #ChangeTomorrowToday.