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REDISCOVER Corporate Social Responsibility

Whether as an aid to human resources, to manage risk, to differentiate a brand, or as a license to operate, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been proven that it is beyond a fancy term. While there are still criticizing its real cause, it is undeniable that successful CSR efforts truly make a positive impact.

In recent years, hitting the triple bottom line (TBL) or the “three pillars” — people, planet, and profit — became the model for CSR initiatives, an accountability of sorts, a commitment to some form of TBL reporting aligned with the United Nations and ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) TBL standard for urban and community accounting.

Cascade such big ticket words to the workforce, and most employees would say CSR is about their company’s effort to help the country or the community where they operate. It is also an opportunity for them to socialize – to meet other employees, especially if they work in a company that has various offices and remote workforce. Above all, it is an opportunity for them to help worthy causes and initiatives they are truly passionate about.

Corporate Responsibility: An Integral Part of Corporate Culture

For IBM, corporate responsibility is an integral part of their corporate culture. The 101-year-old company has outlined the following corporate responsibility thrusts: identify and act upon new opportunities to apply their technology and expertise to societal problems; scale their existing programs and initiatives to achieve maximum benefit; empower their employees and others to serve their communities; and integrate corporate citizenship and social responsibility into every aspect of the company.

Among such thrusts, empowering the employees and others to serve their communities was particularly highlighted during the company’s 2011’s Centennial Celebration of Service, wherein more than 300,000 IBMers participated in the activities, resulting in 3.2 million hours of community-based service in 120 countries.

In its IBM Corporate Responsibility Report for 2011, the company explains that when IBMers embarked on an historic effort to volunteer millions of hours of service throughout last year, they were careful to measure the results, citing that the company believe that the best way to give back to the many communities in which their employees live and work is to apply their skills to specific societal challenges.

In its service breakdown, 27% were serviced for education, 26% went to Human Resources, and 23% to community and economic development. Globally, North America clocked in 1,955,808 hours of services, Asia with 519,707 hours, and Europe with 400,054 hours.

The report also highlights IBMers helping to build Smarter Cities, through such efforts as the Smarter Cities Challenge, which so far provided USD50 million in competitive grants to send teams of talented IBMers to help transform 100 cities around the world. IBMers are also helping to re-imagine education, as with the innovative P-TECH high school in Brooklyn, New York, a breakthrough six-year model already spreading to other cities and influencing the national debate. Another very engaging effort of the company is the Corporate Service Corps, which deploy teams of high-potential IBMers in developing markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe to make communities smarter and more sustainable, while deepening the global skills of IBM’s future leaders.

Volunteering as “One”

IBM in the Philippines also held activities in line with the company’s Centennial Celebration of Service. In July 2011, the company supported the second phase of the “Save the La Mesa Watershed Project” of Bantay Kalikasan (ABS-CBN Foundation’s environmental arm) by adopting 800 trees. IBMers also participated in an environmental awareness briefing and ‘eco – amazing race’ activity to better understand, protect, and maintain the La Mesa Watershed.

Ready. This author and other IBMers participated in last year’s Big Blue Jungle, an activity in line with the company’s 2011’s Centennial Celebration of Service.

Learning. IBMers are taught to ready their saplings for planting.

Planting now.

As IBM celebrated its 75th year in the Philippines on July 20, 2012, the company held various corporate responsibility activities focusing on education.

It kicked off on July 19 with Voices for a Cause, which part of the proceeds from selling tee-ket (75th anniversary edition t-shirt) will go to 10 MOVES, a program by the Department of Education that aims to build 10,000 classrooms nationwide in a span of 10 months.

Kick-off. IBM Philippines 75th anniversary eve held Voices for a Cause, a benefit concert.

Full house. IBMers filling the venue for Voices for a Cause, a benefit concert.

Despite the heavy downpour brought by tropical depression Freddie, IBMers still banded for the One IBM Service Marathon for Education held last Saturday, July 21. IBMers were deployed across and beyond Metro Manila to help various programs that aim to better the state of education for the Filipino youth, in and out of school.  Activities included Mentoring (Iskul Blue-Kool); rehabilitation and refurbishment of classrooms/school grounds (Brigada Eskwela); outreach for streetchildren in Cavite (Kariton Klasrum); Reading Program (Read to Lead); and KidSmart turnover to select public schools and non-governmental organization.

Citing such efforts, and for a corporate responsibility effort to soar, “business, in particular, must seize the initiative,” IBM President and CEO Virginia Rommety writes in the company’s Corporate Responsibility Report for 2011. “We must not wait for government mandates. We must be active in convening all sectors of society to solve problems that none can solve on their own. We must energize our own resources — not just financial, but also human. Most crucially, we must create corporate citizenship and business strategies that are not merely ‘linked,’ but ‘one.’”

*Big Blue Jungle photos by IBMer Malou Sotto. Voices for a Cause photos by the author.

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