Sometimes, what we need to spring into action might just be a glimpse of the future. Perhaps, this was how members of the Ekiti State executive council (the state cabinet) felt on the March morning when IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC) team – led by Mr. Taiwo Otiti, the company’s country general manager for West Africa – made a thought-provoking presentation to them on how to use computing technology to upgrade and transform the state’s scholastic potentials, public sector management processes, social welfare administration, and e-governance capabilities. Since then, the government and the good people of Ekiti State in south western Nigeria have resolved not to be left behind in the digital doldrums.
Historically endowed with talented human resource, arable land and water resources, and despite being one of the least financially buoyant sub-national economies in Nigeria, Ekiti State is taking concrete steps towards injecting technology in all aspects of its ecosystem, thanks largely to my administration’s focus on “smart governance” principles and concepts.
Over the last several years, corporate citizenship programs have begun to refocus their efforts from “responsibility” to “opportunity.” In other words, companies now realize that they can affect positive societal results by applying time, talent and technology to the common (and uncommon) challenges faced by people around the world. By intertwining corporate citizenship with business strategy, companies can advance their business goals while bringing about real, sustainable change.
WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) recently bestowed their “Visionary Award for Shared Value” on IBM in recognition of our “outstanding corporate governance and corporate citizenship” efforts. IBM Director and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson accepted the award on our behalf.
IBM’s corporate citizenship strategy is global. We identify and act upon opportunities to apply our technology and expertise to societal problems, and scale existing programs to achieve maximum benefit. We empower employees and others to serve their communities. And we integrate corporate citizenship and social responsibility into every aspect of
I recently was in Taiwan, where our employees are very keen on helping students maximise their potential through training for STEM careers (Science Technology, Engineering and Math). More than 300 IBM Taiwan employees have worked with more than 3,000 Taiwanese students since 2008, and this work continues today. In 2012, IBM Taiwan partnered with our client China Steel Corporation to grow volunteer participation and reach an even larger number of students. And in 2013, we will partner with China Steel Corporation and Tatung Company to provide a total of 400 volunteers to participate in nine high schools in Taipei
In my new article for Corporate Responsibility Magazine, I discuss the strategy and cultural orientation behind how IBM’s Corporate Service Corps solves problems, grows leaders, and builds markets. Of course, discussions of business “strategy” are nothing new. But what differentiates IBM is the extent to which we integrate corporate citizenship into business strategy. As you’ll read in the article, our innovative approach to corporate citizenship has its roots in a culture of service that stretches back to our beginnings more than a century ago. Now in the 21st Century – as governments, nonprofits and corporations struggle with global challenges that are too big for any single sector to manage alone – we are helping to evolve corporate citizenship into a set of replicable practices that create real and sustainable value.
Please read and share this article, and share your thoughts on how all of us can work together to make our planet smarter.
Stanley S. Litow is IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of the IBM International Foundation.
“Jambo! Welcome to Kenya!” Travelers walking on Nairobi’s streets always receive a warm Swahili welcome from the local people. Kenya is a country full of enthusiasm. When I met and chatted with Kenya’s local artists, I got a similar feeling as I was moved by the smiles on their faces, and their tremendous passion and dedication to art. In Africa, the creative arts naturally embed culture. This, in turn, forms the magic spirit of African art, as it continuously inspires artists by providing them with the cultural context to create their work. Unfortunately, several factors have conspired to hinder the growth of Kenya’s creative economy, including lack of social recognition and inadequate legal protections for intellectual property.
Helping Our Client
I visited Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, in August 2012 as part of an IBM Corporate Service Corps team. My sub-team of members from Australia, India and the U.S. was tasked with helping Kenya’s Office of Information, Communications & Technology (ICT) and a creative industries task force develop a roadmap for positioning creative industries as a catalyst for Kenya’s growing knowledge-based society. The strategy was for the roadmap to be informed by best practices for coordinating policies and protocols across public-private partnerships. We wanted to create a holistic approach to developing the country’s creative industry so that it could contribute 10 percent of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) and job opportunities by 2017.
Congratulations to IBM Australia for winning the 2012 Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) Ian Kiernan Award for Corporate Social Responsibility for their Corporate Service Corps (CSC) program! Australian Business Volunteers (ABV) has partnered with IBM to deliver the innovative CSC program in Asia since its inception in 2008. We are excited that IBM has received recognition for such an important program as it goes from strength to strength every year.
The AHRI award for corporate social responsibility (CSR) reflects the importance businesses are increasingly placing on addressing social issues as part of their business model. CSR is maturing in Australia, moving from what is traditionally termed philanthropy to more engaged philanthropy or what is more aptly called social investment. It is a long-term strategy. To be effective, it is a partnership based on collaboration, drawing on a myriad of stakeholders whether they be corporations, not-for-profit organisations, governments or foundations to achieve a social end.
You may have suspected that IBM was the nation’s most community-minded company. Now you have proof. Last week, BloombergBusinessweek published the first-ever Civic 50, a groundbreaking national initiative to identify the 50 companies having the greatest community impact. IBM was ranked No. 1.
By identifying how companies are using their time, talent, and financial resources to improve their communities, The Civic 50 sets the standard for corporate civic engagement nationwide. Working with The National Conference on Citizenship, Points of Light developed The Civic 50 to inspire companies seeking to become better partners in their communities. This year’s top five companies are:
- Capital One Financial
In recent articles in The Atlantic and The Huffington Post, I discuss the benefits of providing pro bono counsel to solve problems that intersect business, technology and society. IBM has been at the forefront of these efforts through our Corporate Service Corps and Smarter Cities Challenge initiatives. Since 2008, we have deployed more than 2,000 top-talent employees from 50 countries on more than 2,000 Corporate Service Corps assignments in 30 countries. Meanwhile, our Smarter Cities Challenge program is providing pro bono consulting services worth USD$50 million to 100 cities through 2013.
We’ve just announced the winning cities for the 2013 Smarter Cities Challenge, and are gathering the mayors of those cities and others – along with urban policy thought leaders and IBM experts – at the first Smarter Cities Summit. With more than half the world’s population living in cities, we depend on them for many of the essentials of life. But once we look across the boundaries of culture, geography and language, we begin to recognize that the challenges facing cities are universal.
Stanley S. Litow is IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of the IBM International Foundation. The Civic 50 has just named IBM as America’s Number One most community-minded company.
The Civic 50 survey today named IBM America’s Number 1 most community-minded company. The survey is conducted by the National Conference on Citizenship and
Points of Light in partnership with Bloomberg, LP. It is the first comprehensive ranking of the S&P 500 corporations that best use their time, talent, and resources to improve the quality of life in the communities where they do business.
- Communities have their problems solved.
- IBMers receive leadership training and development.
- IBM develops new markets and global leaders.
Through CSC, our education initiatives, the Smarter Cities Challenge and other innovative programs, IBM interweaves citizenship and business strategy into an integrated approach to making the world a better place. We are honored to be recognized as the leader among companies that give of their time and expertise – not just their cash – in service to the greater good.
An IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) team recently worked with Kenya’s Ministry of Health, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon and PEPFAR (the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) to develop data-collection protocols for use in cancer screening. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among Kenyan women. But while the disease is easily detectable and treatable, only about three percent of Kenyan women between the ages of 18 and 69 have had cervical cancer screenings. The immediate and longer-term goals of the CSC team were to standardize existing hard-copy record systems, and then migrate them to a flexible and scalable Electronic Medical Record system.
IBM Global Business Services internal strategy and change expert Beju Ekperigin was part of the CSC/Kenya team. Read what she has to say about volunteering her professional skills to help drive positive and sustainable change in Kenya.