UNC Kenan-Flagler Sustainability Blog

Brandon Tidwell (EMBA ’14) Moving the Needle on CSR at Darden Restaurants

March 6, 2013 By Tracy Triggs-Matthews

By Brandon Tidwell (EMBA ’13)

The following is an excerpt from a blog post by current weekend MBA student, Brandon Tidwell. To read the full post, please go to Sustainability at Darden.

“When I first began my career in corporate social responsibility (CSR) in 2007, our team at FedEx continually struggled to get our citizenship message out to various stakeholders. In the years to come, FedEx introduced its first Global Citizenship Report, launched a blog for ongoing storytelling and leveraged key social media channels to connect with numerous audiences. The team began to see the citizenship story take shape and become visible, and readily available, to the public sphere.

Brandon Tidwell (EMBA '13)

Brandon Tidwell (EMBA ’13)

Today, most Fortune 500 companies have issued their first CSR/sustainability report, or have been reporting for more than a decade. These companies have blogs, social media channels and media campaigns meant to better tell the story of their corporate responsibility efforts around the globe. We have all learned how to find and use these “megaphones” to share our best practices.

The challenge is that the goal posts are ever-changing. To start, we’ve identified the low-hanging fruit and we’ve addressed the most obvious issues such as reducing energy, water and waste in our operations. But as we move forward, an increasing number of stakeholders want to see full supply chain responsibility and deepened sustainability investment to move the needle and face our global challenges.

In tackling such issues and challenges, the megaphone is an inappropriate communications tool and a more surgical approach is needed. While the megaphone still has its role, more and more CSR and sustainability professionals are being called upon to provide leadership with a deeper level of analysis necessary to make tough choices about where, when and how to invest their capital and human resources. Ranging from Puma’s environmental profit and loss to Dow’s valuation of natural resources, companies are investing further to understand current issues and how they relate to challenges in the environment.”

Brandon Tidwell is Manager of Sustainability for Darden Restaurants. In this role, he is responsible for the development and implementation of corporate sustainability strategies and policies across all of Darden. Brandon joined Darden from FedEx and is a candidate for a Master’s in Business Administration at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business. He also holds a master’s degree in Social Work from Baylor and a certificate in Philanthropy from New York University.

Brandon Tidwell (EMBA ’13)