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But wouldn’t it be nice if companies start waving a different flag? A flag in which they try to show their commitment to sustainability and through which they communicate their willingness to add value to society – preferably in processes of co-creation? I think the Flags of Compassion initiative provides an inspiring foundation for companies to start thinking about a new flag for their company.

Every time different parties deploy the Flag of Compassion, it is gaining more meaning. But there is still plenty of room for new creative ideas. Who will be next?

Rob van Tulder
Prof. in international business
Founder of the department of business-society management at RSM Erasmus University Rotterdam
Director of the Partnerships Resource Centre



Rotterdam, March 2014

Waving a corporate Flag of Compassion?

Most big corporations around the world carry a corporate flag as a proud sign of their identity. Who does not know the big ‘M’ as the sign of McDonald’s? In their effort to be considered a good corporate citizen, some companies take the trouble to have more than one flag: the company flag, the flag of their host country, and sometimes even the flag of their host city. By waving these flags they want to show their willingness to adapt to local circumstances. At least… that is the subliminal message. But this proofs not always the case. Research after companies that went into great length in portraying themselves as a corporate citizen, in many instances found the opposite: those companies that were the least local showed the greatest eagerness to look local. Flags tell different stories. Some pundits even argue that the flag of countries in fact should be made up of the logos of their biggest corporations. The flag has always been a symbol of power, which in this version becomes a sign of protest.



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