Dan Hesse

An interview with a PNC Board member

Q: You are the former Chief Executive Officer of Sprint Corporation and initiated the launch of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. Why did you make this program a strategic priority for you and Sprint?

A: There are three reasons why I made CSR a priority. First, I viewed CSR as an opportunity to differentiate our brand with customers. Second, CSR is a great recruiting tool and can be an effective way to increase employee engagement and satisfaction. This was especially important, as we were competing with companies like Microsoft, Google and Facebook to recruit talented millennials. Finally, I personally am passionate about corporate ethics and responsibility.

Q: How did Sprint’s CSR program impact the company?

A: In 2010, the Reputation Institute recognized Sprint for having the most improved corporate reputation among the world’s 1000 largest public companies. Also, in 2012, Sprint was ranked first in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the very same index in which Sprint had ranked last just four years earlier. Furthermore, Sprint’s annual employee survey reflected a noticeable increase in workplace satisfaction, with “Act with Integrity” being consistently ranked first among our cultural attributes.

Q: As a Board member, how do you ensure that CSR is being addressed strategically at a particular company or organization?

A: CSR initiatives should be reviewed with the Board of Directors, so I want to see them front and center on the Board’s agenda. PNC’s commitment to corporate responsibility is part of the reason why I joined PNC’s Board in the first place. Recently, I attended a PNC Board dinner that featured a presentation from Sally McCrady, director of Community Affairs, about Grow Up Great. This is just one example of PNC’s CSR commitment that warrants—and is receiving—attention from the Board. Equally important are PNC’s environmental lending practices, which Mike Lyons, head of Corporate & Institutional Banking, has incorporated into recent Board discussions.

Q: What aspect of PNC’s commitment to CSR are you personally most proud of?

A: For starters, I am very proud of PNC’s corporate headquarters, The Tower at PNC Plaza, which received LEED Platinum certification. I am familiar with LEED, so I understand what’s involved with earning that level of recognition. I also am proud of our investments in our communities.

Q: What do you view as PNC’s greatest CSR challenges and opportunities?

A: We must make lending decisions in which we effectively balance the needs of our customers and prospective customers with the interests of our other stakeholders. Determining which industries or companies within a particular industry we should lend to isn’t always easy. Another challenge is balancing the long-term payback of CSR with Wall Street’s focus on the next quarter.

Q: How do you expect corporate sustainability to evolve over the next five or 10 years?

A: As millennials move into positions of power and inherit greater wealth, corporate responsibility will only grow in importance. Therefore, I expect greater emphasis on reporting and transparency as customers and investors increasingly care about how all stakeholders are treated: customers, shareholders, communities, the environment, and especially employees.


Dan Hesse
PNC Board Member & Former CEO, Sprint Corporation


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