Delivering Better Fiscal Results by Focusing on Communities and Humanity
Metrics and Analytics 10.12.2023

Delivering Better Fiscal Results by Focusing on Communities and Humanity

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In this episode of Sunny Side Up, host Michael Malone interviews Catherine Blades, an award-winning corporate leader with over 30 years of professional experience, including C-suite roles at three Fortune 500 companies. Catherine serves as the SVP of Marketing and Communications at SAIC, a company delivering innovative solutions to the U.S. government. They discuss the intersection of purpose and profit in corporations, highlighting how companies that prioritize communities and humanity often yield better fiscal results. Catherine shares her journey in realizing the connection between purpose and financial success, drawing from her experiences in different roles and companies. She elaborates on three key strategies: leveraging platform-based thought leadership to humanize the brand, pivoting brand icons for purpose-driven solutions, and utilizing unconventional methods for effective CSR initiatives. Catherine emphasizes the importance of authentic values, risk mitigation, and stakeholder engagement when engaging with social causes. She also provides insights into measuring the impact of CSR efforts using modeling, outcome-based data, and effectiveness metrics

About the Guest

Catherine Hernandez-Blades is an award-winning corporate leader in Marketing, Communications, Government Relations, CommTech, Digital Transformation, Change Management, and Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) with more than 30 years of professional experience, including C-suite roles at three Fortune 500 companies. Currently, Catherine is the SVP of Marketing and Communications at SAIC, a company that delivers innovative and transformational solutions to the U.S. government in the civilian and defense markets.

Connect with Catherine Blades

Key Takeaways 

  • Purpose-driven companies achieve better fiscal outcomes by focusing on communities and humanity.
  • Purpose is a crucial factor in revitalizing brands, connecting people, and driving results.
  • Humanizing brands through CSR and ESG efforts fosters authentic connections and engagement.
  • Engage with social issues aligned with values, stakeholders’ expectations, and actual impact.
  • Risk mitigation, stakeholder engagement, and curating genuine efforts are vital in avoiding pitfalls.
  • Outcomes matter more than activities; measure progress through modeling, outcome-based data, and effectiveness metrics.
  • RepTrack model reveals 7 reputation dimensions, with governance, citizenship, and workplace being crucial.
  • Outcome-based data indicates success or failure based on ROI metrics and key performance indicators.
  • Effectiveness metrics, such as engagement and click-through rates, provide real-time insights for adjustments.
  • Purpose-driven strategies can be quantifiably correlated to stock price, employee engagement, and more.
  • Purpose and profit are interconnected, demonstrated through data, authentic engagement, and measurable outcomes.


“When you humanize the brand, you make that human connection and you go from share of wallet to share of heart.” – Catherine Blades

Highlights from the Episode

What drew you to the concept of purpose in companies and how they can deliver better financial results through community and humanity focus?

Catherine’s grasp of purpose-driven success in companies stems from her seasoned professional background. She illuminated that today’s data-rich environment empowers companies to craft compelling narratives by gauging stakeholder concerns through measured insights. This allows businesses to discern the values that resonate with their audiences and formulate strategies that align with these principles, leading to enhanced fiscal outcomes.

How did you connect the dots between companies’ purpose-driven efforts and improved financial outcomes? Was there a specific moment or realization?

Catherine’s realization of the connection between purpose and financial success sprouted early in her career. She recognized that fostering a genuine community presence and embodying corporate values could translate into securing market share. This insight was reinforced by her personal experiences, firmly establishing that community involvement and positive impact are crucial to achieving financial prosperity while remaining rooted in one’s core values.

How can a brand humanize or revitalize itself through corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts?

Catherine vividly exemplified how brands can infuse humanity through CSR and ESG endeavors. She highlighted instances of campaigns showcasing multi-dimensional roles of executive leaders, transforming well-known icons into purpose-driven solutions, and creating interactive CSR reports that honor heroes within the organization. These methods establish emotional bonds with audiences, utilizing shared values to drive positive change, cement enduring brand associations, and nurture community relationships.

What are some examples of successful efforts to humanize a brand through CSR and ESG initiatives?

Catherine’s tangible examples showcased the transformative potential of purpose-driven initiatives. She underscored how unveiling diverse involvements of executive leaders as a platform-based strategy, the impactful launch of a social robot for pediatric cancer patients, and the engaging CSR report resonated with young students, all while acknowledging internal heroes. Such approaches not only mirror brand values but also forge profound connections, resonating with audiences on multiple levels.

How can brands engage with social causes and issues while minimizing the risks of backfiring?

While highlighting the benefits of brand engagement with social issues, Catherine noted potential risks. She underlined the importance of authenticity, considering the alignment of company values with social causes. Catherine’s experience during the George Floyd protests underscored the significance of timely, values-based responses. It’s crucial to listen to stakeholder expectations and focus on meaningful, well-aligned contributions to avoid pitfalls and maintain a positive brand reputation during turbulent times.

How do you measure the value and progress of purpose-driven efforts, considering outcomes, data modeling, and effectiveness metrics?

Catherine unveiled a comprehensive measurement strategy encompassing data modeling, outcome-based analysis, and effectiveness metrics. She delved into the RepTrack model’s utility, quantifying qualitative reputation dimensions and attributes, and correlating them with employee engagement scores, stock prices, and sales figures. She stressed the importance of real-time monitoring of effectiveness metrics, including engagement rates and sentiment analysis, which enable rapid campaign adjustments. This all-encompassing measurement approach ensures strategic alignment, profound insights, and agile optimization in brand purpose initiatives.

Is there a book, blog, newsletter, website, or video that you would recommend to our listeners?



Jane Randel – Co-President at Karp Randel

Rochelle L. Ford – President at Dillard University

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