Subpoenas vs. CSR Plaudits: A Tale of Two Goldmans

Goldman Sachs is happy to help women progress—as long as they aren’t employees.

By Aman Singh, Vault.com

Goldman Sachs has received yet another subpoena this one from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which is investigating causes of the recent financial crisis and has asked Goldman to turn over information related to its mortgage and derivatives business prior to the crisis.

But yesterday evening, at a glittering reception in New York City, Goldman was the star of the show.

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01:27 pm by csrwiretalkback[10 notes]

Corporate Philanthropy is Good for Business

Giving increases business value.

By Reena De Asis

What if corporate leaders thought more like Bill Gates, a leading philanthropist and founder of Microsoft, who once said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

Ideally, innovative corporations would increasingly function beyond the short-term profit motive and pay greater attention to their impact on the social economy. A key strategy for companies in this paradigm would be to put more focus on collaborating with the multitude of organizations working to improve communities to make a positive impact in the world.

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06:17 pm by csrwiretalkback[7 notes]

Global CSR: How Your Giving Scales Internationally

Corporate philanthropy scales up its impact.

Part Two of a two-part series.

By Pamela Hawley

There are numerous strategic benefits to international giving. Let’s take a look at a few of them.   

Corporate giving abroad is now a level playing field. Because the cost is so low, anyone, at most any age, can become a donor. When I was growing up, people waited “until they were 50 to make it big.” That’s when they felt comfortable and started giving.

But we’re experiencing a new trend where even the 20-something set is giving early, not just the highest level executives or corporate foundations. Entry-level employees are setting aside a portion of their incomes to give to their favorite charities, and employees are passionate about giving back to their countries of origin. 

A key trend is that managers are organizing volunteer trips as team building exercises. Before its annual President’s Club event, a large financial institution took 240 employees on a team building trip to Maui, where they helped four non-profit organizations with restoration and infrastructure projects. A grocery store chain sent staff to villages in Guatemala and Costa Rica that supply its bananas, and a large consulting firm offered financial advice to small businesses in Eastern Europe.

Individuals can now give $40 or $100, and not only make a difference but change a life. It can buy a cup of water, nutritious bowls of porridge and, in some cases, meals for an entire week. As a company it means your corporate philanthropy will be much more visible in a developing country. For very small sums of money, your company will gain prominence among country leaders, politicians, clients, employees and, of course, potential consumers of your product. For example, Yum! Brands, parent company of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, pledges to donate $80 million over the next few years, which will support hunger relief for 200 million schoolchildren in the developing world. It’s good, sincere image building, and it affects lives strategically.

So how can your corporate philanthropy have such an incredible impact? In many developing nations, the local people are earning only a few hundred dollars per year.  GDP per capita in Haiti is $717. In Liberia, it’s $219. Giving abroad allows any employee to tangibly affect the quality of life – or even save a life – through a small, yet effective, donation. It’s thrilling to know everyone has the opportunity to give and that your company can facilitate this incredible momentum.

If we look at the influence of giving in the United States versus abroad, the margin for impact is much greater. In the US you can buy an entree at a restaurant for $15. In Myanmar or Venezuela, your $15 will feed a child for a month. The donation scales.

If we are going to continue to be courageous in giving abroad, let’s examine a more serious philanthropic investment. In the US if you want to buy a house, the median four-bedroom house is $363,401. In Guatemala a house can be built for $4,200. And in Uganda, it costs $2,700. For one house in the US, you can build approximately 86 houses in Guatemala or 134 houses in Uganda.

What if your company could provide hundreds of homes for people? As a corporate foundation, this is a super value proposition. 

So whether you want to give $10, $100 or $10,000, your corporate foundation or employees’ donations will have a tremendous impact. It’s an investment in people’s lives beyond their day-to-day and in your business long term.

Meaning just can’t be underemphasized. To build a successful corporate entity, people have to believe their 12- and 14-hour corporate days mean something. And while their day-to-day work might not be in corporate foundation work for you, they still want to be associated with the good within your company. 

International giving is a strategic imperative for all companies. At any time we can achieve scale and meaningful impact through giving on behalf of the company we work for. You can start today by giving through your corporate foundation, listening to your employees and encouraging scalable giving. You’ll have a business impact. And you’ll have another type of impact that affects someone for a lifetime.

About Pamela Hawley 

Pamela Hawley is Founder and CEO of UniversalGiving, a Web-based marketplace that helps people give and volunteer with the top-performing, vetted projects all over the world. Her blog is Living and Giving.

Talkback Readers: What outstanding examples can you share of corporate international giving? Tell us on Talkback!

06:45 pm by csrwiretalkback[6 notes]

Global CSR: Why It Is Now A Part of HR

International giving boosts human resources’ return on investment.

Part One of a two-part series.

By Pamela Hawley

Here’s our corporate world situation: your Fortune 500 company is opening eight offices abroad next year. Or perhaps you’ve moved from the U.S. to open up a new office in silicon hotspot Bangalore. Even if you are a domestic company, your employees are increasingly from all over the world. So now your domestic company is global even if you don’t have offices overseas!  

As a socially responsible company, international giving is no longer optional. Your company will need to expand its philanthropy in order to capitalize on increasing new business opportunities, new potential clients and personnel retention. It will supercharge your business life for the better.

First, you want the community you are entering to know you care. This means demonstrating commitment to the local community beyond simply selling your product, as important as that is. And through strategic giving, you can fortify your brand, reach more consumers, impress political officials and gain important buy-in with people on the ground in these new countries.

Secondly, your clientele wants to be allied with a company that is doing well in profits and philanthropy. They want to know you are a good citizen, in ethics, values and investing in the local NGOs in order to help others. Further, it’s part of a good strategy to attract new clients.

Finally, you as a leader, as well as your employees, will learn about a new culture and connect across political and cultural boundaries. And while your headquarter CSR objectives may focus your philanthropy on business-minded objectives such as technology or education, your employees on the ground live in a different reality. What are they seeing? Do they walk by starving children in a slum? Do they see a polluted river running through the city, with people bathing in it and washing their clothes, as I witnessed in Kolkatta? Then most likely, they are going to want your company to be a part of the solution and help feed these children or help clean up this river.

For business as well as humanitarian reasons, we should be responsive to these employees’ “eyes on the ground.” Helping rehabilitate a slum and the children who live there is not only positive brand building for you on the ground, but also a great way to keep your employees engaged, happy and committed to your company.

So with the above factors we have reason enough to give. But wait a minute, says the domestic company. “I don’t have employees abroad, and this doesn’t apply to me.”

Then the tsunami crisis in Asia hits, followed by the floods in Pakistan and now the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. And your employees want to be involved. Whether your company is there or not, the call to give internationally is a personnel imperative. Let your employees know your company cares. 

To be even more strategic, I’d listen to your employees further. Take some time to sit down with your leader of HR and really understand the makeup of your workforce. What percent has emigrated from other countries? Estimates indicate one in 10 U.S. workers and 70% of migrant workers send some form of remittance each year. In 2010, remittances were expected to reach $325 billion, with India, China, and Mexico topping the list of recipients: they took in $55, $51 and $23 billion respectively. For smaller countries, remittances can contribute a staggering amount to GDP: 35% for Tajikistan and 28% for Tonga.

Even further, who in your company is a first generation American with parents from a particular country? Here, ties to family and community are very strong and the desire to give back to one’s roots is ingrained. It’s our instinct to honor our heritage – to connect with where we came from even if we haven’t visited. 

So while giving is to help people, and your motives should be sincere, there is no doubt giving back to your employees’ homelands is part and parcel of a solid, listening HR retention plan.

A final note of encouragement: you’ll be making an extremely significant impact. We’ll cover this more in Part Two, How Your Giving Scales Internationally.

About Pamela Hawley 

Pamela Hawley is Founder and CEO of UniversalGiving, a Web-based marketplace that helps people give and volunteer with the top-performing, vetted projects all over the world. Her blog is Living and Giving.

Talkback Readers: What outstanding examples can you share of global corporate giving? Tell us on Talkback!

08:41 pm by csrwiretalkback[6 notes]

Unconventional Philanthropy in Haiti

What keeps Haiti in the minds and hearts of philanthropists?

By Gerald McSwiggan and Taryn Bird

What is it about Haiti that keeps philanthropists and investors alike coming back? 

One year after the devastating earthquake, Haiti still captivates the interest of many in the United States. Outside of Hurricane Katrina, this is rare for disasters. 

An Unconventional Disaster Response

The typical disaster giving cycle lasts a few months, if that long. That window of time is even smaller when another disaster happens shortly afterward. For example, Nashville was hit by extreme flooding in May 2010, but was quickly overshadowed by the Gulf oil spill. The flooding, one of the worst disasters in recent memory, was largely overlooked by donors.

Haiti is a different story. Even with a major earthquake in Chile happening a little over a month later, people remained interested in Haiti’s ability to rebound from the terrible disaster. Remember, these disasters occurred at a time when the U.S. economy was extremely unstable and companies were slashing philanthropic budgets left and right. So why the unconventional continued interest in Haiti?  

Though Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, donors and investors still see reasons to pay attention. Maybe it’s the close proximity to the United States – neighbor helping neighbor. Maybe it’s human nature to not be able to look the other way in the face of a still-unfolding tragedy. Maybe it’s the spirit of hope and resiliency so noticeable on the faces of the Haitians who appear in our news outlets.

And maybe the allure of better things to come has us wanting a seat at the table.

The Nexus of CSR and Core Business Investment

While short-term philanthropic solutions were appropriate in the immediate months following the earthquake – and then again to relieve the cholera epidemic – the game-changers in Haiti’s future are jobs and private-sector investment. Corporate citizenship and CSR professionals for years have attempted to find the perfect linkage between giving and investing, business and philanthropy. 

An immense amount of human capital exists in Haiti – we’ve experienced it when we toured IDP (internally displaced persons) camps and spoke to residents and authorities about what they viewed as “up next” for their country. If this human capital fused with private-sector tools and investment, an untapped market potential and thousands of new jobs in Port-au-Prince could be unleashed, simultaneously offering SMEs and large businesses alike the opportunity to flourish. 

Now, this all sounds idealistic. We know the challenges are immense and working in-country is rather difficult. But consider this story as an indicator of Haiti’s potential: CHOOSE HAITI has employed 1,400 people through the production and sale of a bracelet made in Haiti, by displaced Haitians living in tent camps. The bracelet is 100% recycled, using newspaper and water bottles donated by the U.S. consumer and then collected from the streets of Port-au-Prince. Bracelets are sold for $10 at retailers ranging from Forever 21 to Lady Foot Locker.

Good Will, Good Markets?

The second year after the earthquake will be pivotal. Will people continue to invest in Haiti’s future, or will good will and human interest dry up?

It is obvious many things need to change in Haiti before a true economic tipping point can occur. Better infrastructure, more trust in government and an educated workforce to name a few. 

But a seed has been planted. We want to build on what’s right in Haiti. We hope NGOs, companies and government officials ban together to build a new Haiti.

At the Haiti One Year Later forum at the Chamber yesterday, Michael Webster from The Dow Chemical Company emphasized the untapped opportunity for Haiti’s marketplace to become globally differentiated through a focus on green/recycled products. What other great ideas are out there?

While we can’t get back the 250,000 souls lost in the terrible earthquake, maybe their deaths will not be in vain. Maybe Haiti will one day be the place about which people say, “We can’t afford not to invest there.”

Additional Resources

About Gerald McSwiggan and Taryn Bird

McSwiggan is the head of the U.S. Chamber BCLC Disaster Assistance and Recovery Program. Bird is the head of the Global Corporate Citizenship Program.

Talkback Readers: Why do you think there has been such an interest in Haiti’s recovery efforts? Can sustainable business enterprises help the country thrive in the coming year(s)? Share your thoughts on Talkback!

03:07 pm by csrwiretalkback[3 notes]



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