Corporate Service Corps

A Global View of Leadership Development

For the second consecutive time, FORTUNE magazine has named IBM as the #1 Global Company for Leaders. As part of our series on IBM Leadership, Vice President for Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and IBM International Foundation President Stanley S. Litow comments on the connection between social responsibility and leadership development.

When IBM’s founder Thomas Watson, Sr. coined the term “World Peace Through World Trade,” he foretold much of what we have been about for the last 100 years. IBM has always been an exemplary corporate citizen and a pioneer in interweaving corporate responsibility with overall business strategy. From the earliest establishment of our core values, to their recent renewal by our employees, IBM has been at the forefront – contributing vision, innovation, and real leadership in the communities and nations where we operate.

IBM’s longevity and long-term perspective have uniquely positioned us to create the next generation of corporate leaders who will make the world a better place. Our success has its roots in an adherence to core values while embracing fast-paced global change. And at no time in human history has the pace of change been faster or more profound.

Eighty percent of the world’s population now lives in cities, and emerging markets in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America have the potential to bring positive change – affecting the quality of life for tens of millions of people. IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC) and Smarter Cities Challenge programs are two of the innovations helping to bring about these changes.

In its third year of operation, Corporate Service Corps sends teams of six to 10 high-potential employees and executives to work with leaders in emerging markets to solve pressing problems. As a new model for leadership development and social engagement, CSC and its sibling Executive Service Corps have deployed more than 250 teams of IBM’s top talent from more than 50 nations on projects in more than two dozen countries. The effects have been transformational, both for local leadership and for the participants – 90 percent of whom say the experience has dramatically improved their skills and increased the likelihood that they will complete their careers at IBM.

Connecting with IBM’s Smarter Planet strategy, our Smarter Cities Challenge provides $400,000 worth of pro bono service grants consisting of expertise and technology to help cities develop actionable strategies that will improve the lives of their residents. As the three-year, 100-city, US$50 million program enters its second year, it has already helped cities around the world tackle issues as diverse as economic growth and job creation, transportation, public safety, health care, and the environment.

IBM’s multifaceted approach to corporate social responsibility provides clear business advantages and maximum benefit to communities. It helps attract, retain and develop top talent by giving them the opportunity to understand how complex problems get solved as they provide sustainable value to the communities they serve. Our approaches – and the skills those approaches engender – also make us more effective for our clients. They protect our shareholders by minimizing exposure to risk. But they also provide real returns for the company by building better leaders and better global citizens.

BOTTOM LINE: Corporate social responsibility attracts, inspires, retains top talent. #ibmleaders

Read more about IBM Leadership:

Why IBM Is the Best Company for Leaders by Randy MacDonald, Senior Vice President, Human Resources

How Private-Public Partnerships Can Lead Through Innovation by Rod Adkins, Senior Vice President, Systems & Technology Group

Entrepreneurship Takes Homework, Not Hubris, by Sharon Nunes, Vice President, Government Industry Strategy & Solutions

A New Model to Cultivate Global Leaders by Tony Mwai, Country General Manager, East Africa

Leadership Must Evolve in an Interconnected World by Bridget van Kralingen, General Manager, North America

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