CSR "More Than Giving Away Money and Product Donations"

CSR "More Than Giving Away Money and Product Donations"

We’re on the ground in Washington for this week’s U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Conference, where corporate social responsibility leaders are demonstrating how they are closely tying business objectives to social impact.

Abbott talked about the success it’s having improving health care in Tanzania, where the company has invested $100 million over the past 14 years to modernize Muhimbili National Hospital.

“Corporate citizenship is no longer just about giving away money and product donations but a core competency of responsible business practices,” said Kathy Pickus, divisional vice president, Global Citizenship and Policy at Abbott and vice president of Abbott Fund.

At Intel, gender disparities over access to the Internet prompted the chipmaker to publish extensive “Women and the Web” research and take the lead on a pledge to double the number of women and girls online in developing countries.

We made a decision that we were going to bring 5 million people online in Africa, working with NGOs and others,” said Michael Jacobson, director of corporate responsibility for Intel, who acknowledged the accomplishment would also benefit Intel's core business.

Starbucks announced support for the nonprofit LRNG, which operated a beta in Dallas, Washington, Pittsburgh and Chicago to provide education and career training resources for 100,000 teens and young adults who earned digital badges, including some offering internships and job opportunities.

Blair Taylor, chief of community for Starbucks, likened the plight of millions of disengaged young people to veterans, many of whom were deemed "pariahs" a decade ago because their skills were seen as not translating to work in the private sector.

“We absolutely see the skill translation from being a platoon leader to being a shift manager," said Taylor, who joked that getting more kids back to school, trained by LRNG and into the workforce will mean additional spending power for buying lattes.

Alongside the many examples of brands closely tying their giving with the core business mission is frustration over perceived government interference in India, which passed legislation mandating CSR spending by large companies.

William Eggers, research director for Deloitte’s Global Public Sector Research unit, objected to India’s prohibition on CSR spending on activities that closely align with a company’s primary business.

“It is one of the most insane laws, and I’ve been studying insane laws for 25 years,” said Eggers.