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.
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.
With IBM’s release of our 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report, we demonstrate clearly and convincingly how we are interweaving our citizenship efforts and business strategy into an integrated approach to making the world a better place. To do this –
to become an indispensable partner in the success and sustainability of the communities
we serve – IBM and IBMers do more than just open their wallets. IBMers around the world give generously of their time and talents, rolling up their sleeves as partners in doing the often unsung work behind the headlines of “philanthropy.”
It is our focus on direct action that distinguishes IBM’s culture of service – a culture that has been deeply ingrained since the company’s founding more than 100 years ago. To celebrate our recent Centennial, more than 300,000 IBMers from 120 countries worked on 5,000 large-scale projects that served more than 10 million people worldwide. This celebration – the result of nearly a decade of planning and partnership – represented the largest corporate community service event in history. More than that, it was an acknowledgement of our history, of things to come, and of the service we continue to give every day. And it didn’t end there!
Significant shifts continue to affect the way international development aid is being delivered. These movements began 15 years ago when “partnership” became the watchword for engagement. Governments, the United Nations and other international organizations soon had partnership departments. New alliances were formed between private sector entities and non-government organizations (NGOs), and the word “partnership” became rooted in
the language of development.
Now, a second shift is occurring. This latest movement is rooted in the private sector and has begun to expand the definition of partnership. The evolving definition of partnership incorporates the active engagement of the private sector and its employees – not only
as a delivery agent for programs and expertise, but more importantly as a co-investor in (and beneficiary of) effective development with a strong vested interest in its success.
With input from IBM and nine other leading companies, the Council on Foundations has just launched an ambitious initiative to revitalize and redefine the roles of corporate foundations and philanthropy. Increasing Impact, Enhancing Value establishes a roadmap to help those involved in corporate philanthropy to dramatically increase its social and business value by moving away from “philanthropy as charity” and adopting a 21st century model based on leadership, innovation, and creation of sustainable value.
Our report is the result of an 18-month study that engaged corporate philanthropy practitioners and external stakeholders throughout the United States in a discussion of the challenges and opportunities facing corporate philanthropy in the 21st Century. Increasing Impact, Enhancing Value addresses an environment in which society is looking to business for leadership on social issues as never before. A 2009 Waggener Edstrom Poll found that 60 percent of consumers now believe that businesses are in the best position to create positive results on social issues. By contrast, only 14 percent of respondents believed that governments can drive positive results.
While The Philippines is one country, it encompasses more than 7,000 islands and has a very complex political system. Cebu – one of The Philippines’ major metropolitan areas – has a host of beautiful natural attractions, a population with excellent English language skills, and some big goals. Cebu wants to transform itself into a major tourist and call center destination.
Having a goal is an essential first step toward progress, but all stakeholders need to be onboard. “Metro Cebu” is made up of 13 cities/municipalities that share the goal of making their island a destination, but with more than 13 political leaders supporting their local constituents, setting priorities that benefit the whole has been a challenge. Some cities are primarily concerned with flooding. Others are focused on the type of infrastructure development that could strengthen their economies, but need to consider the potential impact on surrounding cities by creating new, unplanned water, transportation, and waste management needs. Cebu needed an integrated strategy to start planning in an effective manner, so IBM stepped in to help.
In my address to the Third Annual International Corporate Volunteerism Conference (ICV) last night, I spoke about the need to link values to business strategy in order to create sustainable value. In other words, corporations must develop and advance a new model of philanthropy that’s grounded in an enduring commitment to service. The old model of “checkbook philanthropy” is outdated. What matters today – what makes a difference – is volunteering one’s expertise to help solve critical societal issues.
IBM’s Corporate Service Corps program delivers a triple benefit for communities, participants, and IBM:
- Communities benefit as IBM sends its best talent and global experience to tackle business and societal issues in growth markets;
- Participants benefit from unique opportunities to expand their leadership skills and understanding of growth markets, and giving back to society;
- IBM benefits from the development of new leaders with a broad range of skills in a global context, a better understanding of developing economies, and the opportunity to introduce the IBM brand.
Since 2008, more than 1,500 IBMers from more than 50 countries have contributed their expertise in nearly 30 countries via the Corporate Service Corps. Through these engagements, IBMers provide high quality business and IT consulting on critical concerns related to job creation, education, the environment, health care, disaster response, and creating smarter cities. This means more effective public agencies and nonprofits to spur local economic development and better services for residents.
Our Corporate Service Corps, Executive Service Corps and Smarter Cities Challenge programs provide outstanding opportunities for IBMers to develop global leadership skills. Collaborating with top-performing colleagues from around the world, developing and refining consulting skills, building relationships with new clients, and gaining exposure to new markets all help prepare leaders in a globally integrated enterprise. It’s why IBM continues to be recognized as the top global company for leaders, and why we’re continuing to expand these programs to involve more participants, reach new markets, and bring our culture of service to communities around the world.
Robin Willner is Vice President for Global Community Initiatives with IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs.
Jean Chu was part of a six-nation IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) team that worked in Vietnam with a local pharmaceutical company on business and operational planning, implementation and management. Below, Jean shares her impressions of life in the Mekong Delta during and after her CSC engagement.
Can Tho, Vietnam is about 160 kilometers southwest of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). The name of this city of 1.1 million means “river of poems,” and it sits in the midst of abundant flowers, fruits and seafood in Vietnam’s lush Mekong Delta. Working in Vietnam with the CSC helped me fulfill a lifelong dream to serve abroad and give back to the community.
The CSC team came from Canada, Germany, India, Mexico, Slovakia and the United Kingdom, in addition to the United States. During our month-long assignment, Angela Lee (from Canada) and I were to help a local pharmaceutical manufacturer improve its operational effectiveness. But along the way toward helping modernize a vital sector of Vietnam’s growing economy, my colleagues and I had an unforgettable experience getting to know a beautiful country and its people.