Corporate Communications vis-à-vis “Corporate Parenting”


I was delighted to read a new study released this week by McKinsey Quarterly with FCLT Global. It looks at the difficulty of trying to maintain the long-term strategic view in the face of short-term financial pressures.  It highlights that, “Among the 37 percent of respondents who report that long-termism is a major part of their management teams’ cultures, a resounding 88 percent say the long-term view has had a positive effect on financial performance.”

So what is recommended in the long-term view? The white paper, “Rising To the Challenge of Short-Termism” highlights 10 elements of a long-term strategy. Sprinkled between typical financial metrics are aspects including major market trends, competitive advantages, customer satisfaction over time, brand strength, and overview of risks and mitigation, including sustainability challenges (e.g., environmental, social, and governance issues).

Hello, Purpose!

These are concepts we communications, marketing and HR professionals are often fighting to lift above discretionary status, to garner executive participation and funding.

The classic “corporate parenting” considerations of organizational structure, management control, and financial results historically tended to focus on management over — and in relation to — the operating units, distanced from customers and employees.

But megatrend demands for corporate transparency and responsible citizenship have eroded that isolation. This means long-term visioning and parenting today should inherently consider corporate behaviors: supply chain decisions, transparency commitments, galvanizing employees with purpose, and not just avoiding social harm, but helping solve societal issues.

This reinforces my take that in today’s world, corporate parenting must inherently embrace a purpose-driven mentality as core strategy, not as an afterthought. All too often, corporate social responsibility and purpose are sidebar initiatives, funded secondarily and “owned” by one function. But these, when embraced holistically across functions, deeply affect long term relevance and value.

Whether a branded house or house of brands, the corporate parent is now called to deliver and project character that resonates… or lose ground to competitors who do.  This is the evolution of corporate communications. Driven by social demand, and increasingly … shareholder desire.