Pathway to Financial Success: A Conversation with Discover’s Head of CSR

Discover Launches Pathway to Financial SuccessCorporate social responsibility has many shapes and forms today. Some organizations continue to use philanthropy as the crutch while others are adopting more expansive and strategic measures to improve their relationship with society and the environment.

For Discover, a financial institution with a history of catering to an elite consumer group with high credit scores and deep pockets, the business model is simple: Provide credit to low-risk consumers while ensuring quality customer service.

However, social responsibility for a financial services provider is a complex debate. I’m a big proponent of context and financial literacy falls perfectly in line with Discover’s core audience and social footprint. But should Discover be educating all consumers on the viability and risks of financial products or simply restrict its outreach to its customer base? Considering that a wide swath of their consumer base is educated and high potential, where should Discover focus its consumer engagement efforts?

A couple of weeks ago, Discover announced a new five-year $10 million program designed to help get financial education into the classroom. Their target: high school students. But this latest initiative, called Pathway to Financial Success, isn’t going to be just about conversations in the classroom.

Financial LiteracyLeslie Sutton, director of external affairs and head of CSR for Discover, spoke to CSRwire about the initiative. “Not only will the initiative provide grants to public high schools to cover the costs of implementing a course on personal finance and give them access to a standards-based curriculum, it will also emphasize teacher training,” she said.

Further, “through a public service announcement [called Awkward Conversations] and a website, we want to raise awareness of the need for financial education and to encourage parents to talk to schools about incorporating it into the school curriculum.”

Discover wants to activate parents this time in a meaningful way. And in true Discover fashion, they’re doing this in a funny and intuitively intelligent manner.

CSrwire’s Editorial Director Aman Singh caught up with Sutton for more insights on the CSR roadmap at Discover.