Tanya Levy-Odom has always been involved in her community. As a teen, she taught first aid to children as a Red Cross volunteer. A native New Yorker, she now serves on the boards of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and New York City’s Economic Development Corporation. “The notion of ‘To whom much is given, much is required’ was instilled in me as a child,” she says.
That level of involvement took a new turn in early 2015, when Levy-Odom was asked to add corporate social responsibility (CSR) to her role as executive director of investor relations at Time Inc. While undertaking a preliminary assessment of Time’s global CSR activities, Levy-Odom realized that she wanted to have a clearer sense of CSR best practices and also to make connections with others working in the field. This led her to the HBS Executive Education program Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategies to Create Business and Social Value.
Levy-Odom has found the experience to be a valuable one. “Being at HBS provided the framework to better coordinate all that we do at Time Inc. and how we present it to our shareholders, the public, and other stakeholders,” she says. “Through the discussions of case studies, I gained insight into the ways CSR can become more engrained in our business functions.”
The program has also reinforced for Levy-Odom that any company’s CSR strategy is iterative. “There’s no one right way. Whatever approach you take has to fit your company’s goals, mission, and values,” she says. “And a constant needs assessment is critical as well, since communities change.” She believes that the “expert input” from HBS faculty during the program and exposure to executives from companies around the world will be instrumental in helping her to create an effective, flexible framework for CSR strategy and assessment: “It’s particularly important to keep an open ear and an open mind when considering what you can be doing better,” says Levy-Odom. Coming to HBS has laid the groundwork for that ongoing work, she says, while providing her with a global network of support to draw upon moving forward.