In India – where the population of persons with disabilities is estimated to be greater than the overall population of the UK – people with disabilities (PwD) often are considered liabilities. Despite the 1995 Persons with Disabilities Act, which was revised in 2015 to guarantee jobs to persons with disabilities, more than two-thirds of that population in my state of Karnataka is unemployed. According to the Association for People with Disability, 800,000 of Karnataka’s 1.2 million people with disabilities do not have jobs.
Growing up with a disability, I was keenly aware of the extent to which lack of accessibility and socioeconomic limitations prevented others with disabilities from obtaining educations and jobs. Although I received extensive support from my family and friends, the obstacles I faced inspired me to start a nonprofit focused on making use of technology initiatives to empower persons with disabilities. The organization I founded in Bangalore – the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled – supports PwD initiatives via income generation programs that are replicable, scalable and sustainable.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has just bestowed its “Best Corporate Steward” award for large business – the Citizens Award – on IBM. The Chamber Foundation’s Best Corporate Steward award recognizes businesses that serve as powerful forces for good around the world. Companies and chambers of commerce from around the globe compete for Citizens awards in several categories, making them among the most coveted opportunities for recognition in corporate citizenship.
Among this year’s nominees, IBM is not alone in doing excellent work. But what distinguishes IBM in the increasingly crowded and competitive field of corporate citizenship is the breadth and depth of its programs, and the company’s longstanding culture of service that begins with its CEO and radiates through nearly 400,000 employees around the world. It is the high level of engagement and support of IBM’s CEO and top leadership that inspires and encourages contributions of service by employees, partners and clients as an integral part of IBM’s global business model.
Over the last 30 years, International Medical Corps has provided more than $2 billion in lifesaving humanitarian relief and training to communities devastated by disaster and conflict. From the Nepal earthquake, to the war in Syria, to the Ebola outbreak, we respond rapidly to emergencies and remain in affected communities throughout their recovery to help people rebuild and ultimately care for themselves.
As a global first responder, our mission focuses on delivering health care programs that are high-impact, and that promote resilience in the 35 countries where we work. But how does an organization such as ours measure impact? How does one “measure” peoples’ resilience? IBM is providing us with a critical tool to help unlock those answers.
IBM’s technology and talent have the power to help transform governments, institutions, communities and the quality of life for people around the world. We work to improve education, revitalize cities, address the challenges of economic growth, respond to disasters, and develop sustainable strategies for energy use and environmental protection. As part of a tradition that dates to the company’s founding more than
100 years ago, IBM and IBMers contribute innovative solutions to the world’s toughest societal challenges.
In our 2014 Corporate Responsibility Report, we detail our efforts to transform communities, support our employees, and engage in responsible corporate governance and practices. Through it all, you’ll see how IBM and IBMers contribute our time, technology and expertise toward making the world a better place.
At nearly 19 percent, Turkey’s youth unemployment rate hovers nine points above the average for the general unemployment rate of the nation. Among the reasons for the high rate among youth is the disconnect between young people’s skills and Turkey’s labor market. Thus it is an urgent need to increase youth employment rates and improve our country’s competitiveness in an increasingly knowledge-based economy. TÜSİAD – the Turkish Industry and Business Association – worked with IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC) to develop a strategic plan to strengthen STEM education and bolster Turkey’s overall innovation agenda.
TÜSİAD was established in 1971 as a voluntary civil society organization. Its goal is to offer economic, social and political solutions from the perspective of the business world. TÜSİAD conducts research, forms views and develops projects and activities as well as proposes policy recommendations to the Turkish parliament, government, and collaborates with national- international organizations. In essence, TÜSİAD has become a think tank in addition to an organization representing business. That’s why we were excited to work with the Corporate Service Corps on this important issue that spans so many aspects of life in any country.
International Women’s Day – March 8th – is just the beginning of an ongoing recognition, call to awareness and cause for celebration of women and women’s issues around the world. But the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day goes beyond more recognition of issues. This year’s theme is encouraging action, speaking out and stepping forward to better manage and ultimately overcome the interrelated challenges women’s health, welfare, and social and economic progress.
Among the essential goals of IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC) is to help empower women in developing countries in all areas of their lives – particularly in healthcare.
When women have access to good healthcare, their children continue to attend school, their families are strengthened, and they are more productive in the workforce and
Anyone looking for inspiration about how the public, private and not-for-profit sectors can collaborate need not look much further than a new book authored by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Titled A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, this remarkable book describes how individuals and organizations can make a difference in the lives of others. Two of the many examples cited by the authors include IBM’s Corporate Service Corps and Smarter Cities Challenge. These programs deploy pro bono teams of problem-solving IBM consultants who work with community stakeholders around the world, while improving their own skills and cultural literacy. Here is how the authors put it:
In their desire to showcase corporate social responsibility, companies are giving more leeway to employees to give back – just as law firms have regularly done pro bono work. IBM developed a Corporate Service Corps, modeled on the Peace Corps, and has sent more than 2,400 people to provide consulting advice in more than thirty countries. In 2010, IBM also began a three-year, 100-city grant initiative in which employees donate their time to help cities launch large projects and resolve tough issues. IBM dispatched teams of five to six people for three weeks to formulate a master plan and strategies for execution. In
St. Louis, IBM helped devise a citywide information technology system that tracked everyone who entered the criminal justice system and allowed different agencies access to that electronic information. That system contributed to a 50 percent decline in crime in some neighborhoods, IBM says. Toyota has taken its sophisticated production expertise and helped hospitals, schools, and other non- profits improve efficiencies. In Harlem, for example, it trimmed the wait at a soup kitchen run by an organization called Food Bank for New York City from one and a half hours to eighteen minutes.
We would like to see more companies step into this arena, allowing employees to use their skills to take on pro bono projects. The nonprofit world is in desperate need of the corporate skill set, and our guess is that companies would be rewarded with increased morale and greater success in recruitment and retention. In the same vein, it would be good to see more corporations take on social joint ventures from time to time, in echoes of what Danone did with Grameen to make yogurt. If we insist on nonprofits and corporations being kept in separate silos, we all lose. If you work in a company, think about how it could help, or what a pro bono policy might look like, and see if there is interest among executives.
The best programs tackle a social problem that the company has the right toolbox for. That’s why Danone’s new yogurt with micro-nutrients and IBM’s information technology systems make sense. In finance, one of the most interesting initiatives to tap private funding has been Social Impact Bonds, launched in the United Kingdom in 2010 with the help of the Rockefeller Foundation, and two years later in the United States. ‘There simply wasn’t enough money in philanthropy, even with the explosion of philanthropy, and not enough money in government aid to really solve all the social ills,’ said Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. ‘Not that money can solve everything, but that for those things that required money and big money at times, that unleashing private capital to do social good was going to be critical.’
Excerpted from A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Copyright © 2014 by Nicholas D. Kristof. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
On International Volunteer Day 2014, we reflect on the interdependence of service and leadership.
The word “volunteer” has lost some of its luster in recent years, and that’s unfortunate. In a world where nearly every culture celebrates selflessness and caring for others, it seems only fitting that influential organizations should incorporate service into leadership development. IBM takes this commitment several steps further – not only by integrating citizenship and service into the company’s overall business strategy, but by enabling other companies to participate in IBM’s Culture of Service, and standing as a global example of how a values-driven organization can affect meaningful and sustainable change.
To volunteer is to contribute value by giving of one’s self. And when what one gives – time, talent, innovative technologies – has the power to transform its recipient, one does more than simply serve. Deploying cloud and mobile technologies to coordinate disaster relief & recovery or enable management of essential public health issues saves lives. Developing data analytics solutions that make timely transportation possible amid the crushing populations of growing cities moves economies from second-rate to world class. Connecting people – to information, to their governments and to each other – allows us to aggregate our intelligence to preserve our humanity. A culture of service inspires the desire to serve, and provides the opportunities and tools that make service possible.
Joe Keenan, executive vice president of The Nature Conservancy’s Latin America region, leads a staff of more than 320 people based in sixteen countries. Under Keenan’s direction, the Conservancy designs innovative strategies focusing on water, food, and infrastructure: collaborates with indigenous communities to help protect their rivers and forests; and establishes partnerships with the private sector to foster sustainable business and agricultural practices. IBM’s Corporate Service Corps interviewed him in connection with our engagement with TNC in the Amazon.
In 2008, when 36 Amazon municipalities were put on the Brazilian government’s
blacklist as the country’s worst deforesters, they didn’t just have a reputational problem. The government also curtailed the ability of farmers and ranchers in those municipalities
to sell their products.
The Nature Conservancy’s Amazon team had already started working on a solution. It’s PAM– an environmental management portal designed to help municipalities enforce Brazil’s Forest Code, help landowners comply with the code, and make it possible for municipalities to issue land-use licenses much more quickly.