Ten-year-old Tejas was forced to leave school and work in the cotton fields in India alongside his parents to supplement the family’s US $1.67 a day earnings. "It’s very difficult to work in cotton fields," says Tejas. "My back ached every day. I feared that snakes or spiders would bite me. I wished I could study. My friends used to ask me to go to school with them. I had to work."
According to a national survey, less than 20 percent of Americans said that their parents or school system had encouraged them to pursue a career in manufacturing. In response, Alcoa Foundation, the charitable arm of Alcoa, a manufacturing company pioneering the revitalization of the industry, teamed up with their new partner, Discovery Education, in an effort to bridge the industry’s unemployment gap through an online program named "Manufacture Your Future," which debuted in late May.
As companies engage with corporate citizenship, internal policies and programs present an excellent opportunity to address important focus areas such as employee retention. Legg Mason, a global asset management firm, supports employee retention through the Global Mentor Program, an internal mentorship initiative. By matching high-performing employees with experienced members in leadership roles, the program aims to expand the networking skills, leadership training, and company exposure of promising staff members. Legg Mason views the Global Mentor Program as a critical investment in leadership and talent development, having successfully mentored approximately 140 employees since the program’s inception.
Our corporate responsibility (CR) efforts comprise a major part of our culture. They highlight the values of Outerwall, and are designed to attract employees who have a desire to not only work for a successful, growing company, but one that provides a work experience with meaning and purpose. We also understand our actions impact others, and we’re dedicated to keeping that impact positive.
The notion of “partnership” is central to the corporate citizenship agenda. Partnerships can serve as strong, unifying forces, gathering the complementary skills and inputs of the public sector, the private sector, and civil society in order to tackle complex social and environmental problems. Partnerships draw diverse resources together and, therefore, are a means to get things done that individual organizations cannot achieve alone.
West Africa grows about two-thirds of the world’s supply of cocoa beans. More than two million cocoa farmers in West Africa and more than 10 million West Africans depend on cocoa for a significant portion of their livelihoods. Both climate change and shifts in demand have gravely impacted the industry in this region, creating the need for companies with operations in the region to invest in the long-term sustainability of local cocoa farmers. According to Andy McCormick, Senior Director of Cocoa Sustainability at The Hershey Company, projects designed to improve farmer production and raise incomes need to be at sufficient scale.
According to a recent study by ManpowerGroup, the lack of skilled talent in the U.S. has made it difficult for employers to fill many jobs. This imbalance has created a job gap that many companies are developing strategies to address. SAP, a leading provider of enterprise software and services for managing accounting, distribution, human resources, manufacturing functions and technology, created its Veterans to Work program to leverage its expertise and create meaningful opportunities for U.S. veterans. Tyrone Webb Jr., Program Manager, Platform Solutions Group, shared some of SAP’s strategies for reaching veterans and engaging employees in the program.
Research has found that professionals who are required to track billable hours are often less willing to volunteer. The pressures of meeting certain quotas can deter professional services firms from taking the time to give back to the community. Quite the opposite trend can be seen at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, however, an international law firm that focuses on intellectual property; corporate, finance, and real estate; and litigation. Whitney Deal, Director, Corporate Citizenship, attributes this trend to the culture of giving back which has been ingrained in the firm’s 153 year-old foundation.
A challenge that corporate citizenship practitioners often face is how to engage their customers in their citizenship activities. Developing these relationships can strengthen customer loyalty and contribute to a brand’s reputation. eBay, which provides a way for consumers to connect with cause through the eBay Giving Works platform and raise valuable funds for charity by buying and selling goods, has not only been successful in engaging customers in its giving programs, but has extended its reach to nonprofit organizations, brands, celebrities and the general public.
As we start 2014, we have taken some time to reflect on the work of the last year and where we see the field headed. The Center has had the privilege to work with companies in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Africa this year and our membership reflects this diversity. While the individual issues being addressed by companies may differ across global regions, the questions are essentially the same at their core:
Are we helping to create the type of world we want to do business in?
Even more importantly, are we helping to create the kind of world we want to live in?