Corporate Citizenship Lessons: 5 Questions with Interbrand’s Carolyn Ray


Research increasingly shows that billions of dollars in brand value are tied to Corporate Citizenship. To that end, Interbrand, the world’s leading brand consultancy (and brandchannel’s parent company) is expanding its Corporate Citizenship practice to Canada, where national brands are increasingly coming under the scope of environmental and socially-conscious consumers.  

At a launch breakfast hosted in collaboration with Deloitte last week, Carolyn Ray, Managing Director of Interbrand Canada, addressed the growing need in the Canadian marketplace for brands to have a transparent Corporate Citizenship strategy. 

“It’s evident to us, from our Best Canadian Brands (report), global brand valuation reports and the discussions we’ve been having, that brands are either not getting recognition for the good things they are doing, or don’t have a corporate citizenship strategy in place to accelerate their brand and business performance. We want to help close that gap,” Ray said.  

“We believe there is an opportunity for Canadian companies to look to Corporate Citizenship to accelerate business and brand performance, particularly in an era of rising stakeholder expectations and increasing transparency.”

brandchannel caught up with Ray to talk trends, implementation and the importance of Corporate Citizenship to increasing brand value.[more]

brandchannel: Is Canada playing catch-up in the Corporate Citizenship arena?

Carolyn Ray: I would argue that the rest of the world can learn a lot from Canada. When you look at brands like Canadian Tire, RBC and TD Bank, they have all made a substantial investment in Corporate Citizenship and have aligned it with their brands.  

bc: What takeaways from the Best Global Green Brands report apply to the Canadian marketplace?

Ray: To become one of the top 50 Best Global Green Brands, organizations must perform well in terms of both sustainability performance and perception.  

In Canada, we see three key opportunities for Canadian brands. First, sharing their story. There is an inherent reluctance in Canada to broadcast achievements, presenting a missed opportunity to develop stronger relationships with all stakeholders of the brand by sharing the story of their Corporate Citizenship efforts. Second, setting the standard. Canada is recognized globally for its progressive thinking; the world needs to learn the lessons of its success and the brands here who lead in Corporate Citizenship. Finally, measuring the impact. To remain committed, leaders need to understand the business outcomes attributable to their investments.

bc: Business schools are finding that MBA applicants want to join companies with a purpose and strong CSR commitment. Is that trend reflected in Canada?

Ray: Yes, and perhaps even more so in Canada given our cultural diversity and awareness of the world around us. Here, we have also been oriented to embracing sustainable behaviors for years. People believe that being a good corporate citizen is important. In fact, research shows 80 percent of Canadians believe it is important for their employer to be responsible to society and the environment.

bc: How do you connect Corporate Citizenship to brand value?

Ray: There is no question that Corporate Citizenship, when aligned with business strategy, drives brand value, particularly in B2B environments. In previous research that formed the foundation for our practice area, we found that an incredible US$11 billion in brand value of the top 15 global brands was attributable to Corporate Citizenship. 

This is much more than simply telling a story—it goes beyond PR or reputation management. Corporate Citizenship extends to all stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, communities and society at large. This is about starting with your brand to develop an impactful platform that is aligned with your business strategy, with the potential to not only accelerate financial performance but also create measurable impact in the world. 

Photo at top (left to right): Carolyn Ray, Managing Director, Interbrand Canada; Colleen Albiston, CMO of Deloitte Canada; and Tom Zara, Global Practice Leader, Corporate Citizenship, Interbrand. 

—Connect with Carolyn Ray at and on Twitter: @thecarolynray

—Connect with Sheila on Twitter: @srshayon