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.
Of the many corporate citizenship programs that capitalize on IBM’s innovative technologies and global expertise in service to governments, nonprofits and communities around the world, the Citizen’s Award judging panel focused on the following during our evaluation:
- Corporate Service Corps, which puts “citizen diplomacy” into practice by delivering pro bono consulting expertise to governments, nonprofits and other entities in developing economies. Corporate Service Corps’ inspiring results have expanded its mission beyond IBM, which has engaged clients and partners in significant projects addressing major challenges in such areas as economic development, environmental stewardship and global health.
- Impact Grants, through which IBM delivers enterprise capabilities to small nonprofits with agility and precision. In an era of increasing demands and diminishing resources, IBM Impact Grants help smaller organizations garner support and serve their constituencies more efficiently and effectively.
- On Demand Community, a global engagement of more than 200,000 current and retired IBMers that facilitates and coordinates their contributions of skills-based volunteer service.
- P-TECH, an IBM-developed and administered reinvention of high school and career and technical education. Through this open, affordable, replicable and sustainable model, IBM is engaging school districts, community colleges and nearly 100 large and smaller employers in the U.S. and abroad in a concerted effort to close skills gaps, break cycles of poverty and increase workforce diversity – especially in the technology industry.
- Smarter Cities Challenge, a global acknowledgement of the essential role of cities and urban regions, backed by contributions of IBM’s top talent, technology and global perspective to make cities better and smarter places to live, visit and do business.
IBM’s diverse corporate citizenship portfolio provides at least two categories of differentiated value. The first and most obvious is the delivery of service to beneficiaries around the world. But perhaps equally important are the examples IBM sets for other CEOs and executive teams and other groups of employees – whether large or small. It is IBM’s corporate citizenship culture and leadership, in addition to the company’s numerous good works, that distinguish it as our 2015 Best Corporate Steward.
Marc DeCourcey is Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness and educating the public on how the U.S. free enterprise system improves society
and the economy.
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