On International Corporate Philanthropy Day, CECP is excited to recognize IBM as a recipient of the 13th Annual Excellence Awards. CECP’s independent cross-sector Selection Committee chose IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge (SCC) from among a competitive pool as the winner of the coveted Chairman’s Award for companies with revenues of $20 billion and more. IBM becomes CECP’s first ever two-time prize winner, as they were previously recognized in 2001. The Excellence Awards, which have been presented every year since 2000, provide CECP with case studies of impactful corporate engagement in society. The four criteria on which the CECP Excellence Awards are evaluated are: CEO leadership, innovation, partnership, and measurement. Award-winners such as IBM excel in all four categories and thus make a positive impact in their communities. The payoff is global business leadership.
IBM’s SCC hit it out of the park on CECP’s four standards of excellence:
CECP recognizes the rare potential and shared responsibility of corporate executives in advancing solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. Ginni Rometty, President, Chairman, and CEO of IBM, who has supported the company’s continued investment of resources and people in the Smarter Cities Challenge, accepted the award at CECP’s Board of Boards CEO Conference in New York City. “This recognition of our Smarter Cities Challenge by CECP,” Rometty said, “reinforces our own conviction that this work is not simply an alignment of business and citizenship strategies, but a fusion of the two.” Rometty’s leadership embodies several of CECP’s Top Actions of an Engaged CEO, including reinforcing the value of the company’s community engagement and inspiring employees at all levels to get involved.
The SCC fits within IBM’s model of corporate citizenship, which is powered by its people who have deep subject matter knowledge. This three-year, $50 million competitive grant program provides teams of IBM experts for three-week engagements to 100 cities globally, drawing on IBM’s core business knowledge by helping cities to collect and analyze critical data to improve complex systems, such as healthcare, education, public safety, social services, communications, and energy and utilities.
Whereas partnerships in traditional corporate philanthropy are often between one company and one nonprofit organization, IBM realized that to achieve its societal objective, to create smarter cities, it would have to employ alternative partnership structures, primarily between the company’s workers and local governments. IBM employees work closely with city leaders to produce projects that are actionable and impactful for citizens. IBM speaks directly to the city’s mayor to confirm the project scope prior to final selection, and the team meets with him or her during the three-week engagement.
The game-changing approach of the SCC reflects an extraordinary depth in quality and scale. It is modeled after the best learning from IBM’s Corporate Service Corps program, created in 2007 as the company’s own version of the Peace Corps, deploying more than 2,000 high-performing IBMers on consulting projects for non-profit organizations in growth-market countries. Success metrics for the SCC include business benefits such as developing professional skills (78% of participants describe it as “very effective” and 22%
as “effective”) as well as the mobilization of city leaders to implement the teams’ recommendations. By year-end 2012, 65 cities had been completed with 400 of IBM’s top talent participating.
CECP congratulates IBM for demonstrating with its Smarter Cities Challenge how a company can achieve unprecedented progress on societal challenges while driving business performance. CECP draws together and empowers senior executives of the world’s leading companies for this purpose, and we’ll be sharing key takeaways from today’s CEO Conference on our website in early March.
Daryl Brewster is the CEO of the CECP.