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Smucker CEO: Investing in Community ‘Pays Off in Long Term’

June 11, 2019, 5:54 PM UTC

The 122-year-old J.M. Smucker Company is used to thinking long-term. That point of view is helpful when figuring out how a company can contribute to the place where it does business while still meeting the demands of its shareholders.

“The convergence of supporting our community and our business does pay off in the long term,” said CEO and president Mark Smucker, speaking at Fortune‘s CEO Initiative in New York on Tuesday. “Thinking long-term is part of our DNA.”

The company lives by the philosophy that investing in its community, customers, suppliers, and employees leads to value for everyone involved. Smucker shared his perspective as part of a group of business leaders who told the audience how the ideas they formed at past CEO Initiative events have paid off in the years since.

Last Mile Health, an organization that works with governments and other stakeholders to provide healthcare to those at the “last mile” of access, developed a program to train community healthcare workers after a CEO Initiative meeting in 2016. Three years later, 12,000 workers have been trained in how to distribute contraceptives and vaccines, CEO Raj Panjabi said.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation is beginning a plan to hire 10,000 18- to 25-year-olds who are neither working nor in school. The company defines its purpose as “to care for people so they can be their best,” intentionally leaving “people” vague to include more than just customers in Hyatt hotels, said president and CEO Mark Hoplamazian. That includes members of the community wherever Hyatt operates hotels.

Synchrony CEO Margaret Keane shared her work with the youth organization buildON, and Vital Voices president and CEO Alyse Nelson described the pathway from a conversation two years ago about the untapped potential of women entrepreneurs to the launch of her organization’s We Empower UN Sustainable Development Goals Challenge, which awards entrepreneurs using business to drive social change.

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