The Columns

A Q&A With Patsy Doerr '90 on Corporate Social Responsibility

— by on May 17th, 2016

Is there a connection between corporate social responsibility and a company’s return on investment? According to Patsy Doerr, who graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1990, the answer is very much a yes.

Patsy is global head of corporate responsibility and inclusion for Thomson Reuters, and she offered her perspectives in a Q&A with CR Magazine.

She comments on the importance of diversity: “Diversity is no longer an HR or Corporate Responsibility initiative. Studies increasingly show that strong financial performance and a healthy outlook for long-term growth are intrinsically linked to diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion lead to more innovation, better access to talent, and ultimately better business performance.

“To put it simply, the more diverse your workforce is (not just of gender, race and sexual orientation, but of style, thought, dress etc.), the more likely you are to innovate, problem solve, attract and retain top talent and succeed in the new global economy. Companies that don’t embrace this will ultimately lag behind because they are missing out on new ideas and opportunities.”

Patsy noted that the younger generation now expects social responsibility to be an integral part of any company. “Millennials are one of the largest generations in history. They are tomorrow’s leaders, and will become our main customer base. They are the first generation to grow up with the idea of corporate social responsibility and expect that corporations will work as partners with government, regulatory agencies and not-for-profits to make the world a better place.

“It’s nothing new to note that people want to work for and work with companies that they trust as partners. As you know, we are the ‘Answer Company’ and trust is a core value of everything we do since we are trusted for the information, technology and expertise we provide. A large part of that trust for millennials is conducting business in a socially responsible way for the betterment of the world. Millennials want to work for a company they respect and they want to do business with companies they trust.”

As well as overseeing Thomson Reuters’ corporate social responsibility, Patsy is responsible for diversity and inclusion and sustainability functions. She has held a number of global leadership roles at JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse, in New York, London and, most recently, Hong Kong.

Patsy sits on the board of trustees for Marymount School for Girls, where she is also the president of the Alumni Association. She belongs to the YMCA Leadership Committee, the 30% Club Steering Committee, the Business Advisory Board for PFLAG and the steering committee for All in Together. She graduated from W&L with a B.S. in biology (pre-medicine) and has a M.S. (summa cum laude) in adult learning and organizational development from Fordham University.

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