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Microsoft: Nurturing Communities Through Citizenship Programs

Posted by Akhtar Badshah on Wed, 2013-11-06 14:17

Through its Citizenship efforts, Microsoft has the opportunity to help build and nurture communities in the more than 100 countries/regions around the world where it has a presence. The company is focused on addressing an “opportunity divide” among young people around the world—a gap between those who have the access, skills, and opportunities to be successful and those who do not. Through a company- wide initiative we are partnering with governments, nonprofit organizations, and businesses around the world to empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment, and entrepreneurship.

Microsoft has worked alongside nonprofits, governments, and other businesses to provide relevant, affordable, and accessible technology for those at the bottom and middle of the economic pyramid. These efforts have served millions of people and will continue to serve millions more as this work evolves to meet the needs of people around the world and includes areas such as cloud services and mobile technology.

Through partnerships, technology innovations, people, and resources Microsoft is proud to help solve societal challenges and create economic opportunities on both a global and a local scale.

Aside from high-demand low-cost consumer products, most businesses have...

America’s Private Sector: Advancing Economic Security and Stability around the World

Posted by David Weiss on Wed, 2013-10-30 09:48

The number of women-owned businesses in the US has increased by 59% since 1997, according to American Express. That amounts to more than $1 trillion in revenue and employment of more than 8 million. But American women aren’t the only ones leading the charge on owning businesses and contributing to their economies. Women in some of the world’s most volatile regions are increasingly launching and growing their own businesses, including women who have been part of the Goldman Sachs  10,000 Women initiative, that for the past five years has invested heavily in the future of women business owners from over 40 countries around the world.

Global Communities has partnered with 10,000 Women since 2008 to bring the program to hard-working women business-owners of small and medium-sized enterprises(SMEs) in Liberia, as the country recovers from more than a decade of civil war.  Now in its fifth year, the program is showing incredible...

Food for Thought on Food and Farming II: Europe, Asia, the World

Posted by Drs. Brad Googins & Phil Mirvis on Wed, 2013-10-30 09:20

Our prior blog took us on a tour of innovations in sustainable food and farming in the U.S.  Here the foodies’ tour continues with what’s new in these regards in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.

In June, we were off to Bilbao, Spain to meet with colleagues and companies that comprise the Global Network on Corporate Citizenship.  There we discussed the growing numbers of social innovations in business and increased corporate partnering with other businesses and NGOs.  We also visited Mondragon, the fabled €15 billion confederation of worker cooperatives in the Basque region that weathered the global recession through aggressive exporting, overseas expansion, and shared sacrifices among member companies. 

In preparation for the meeting, we perused Unilever’s newly issued 2012 Sustainable Living Plan Progress Report where it announced that some 36% of its raw materials were “sustainably sourced.”  So why is this a big deal?

Chief Procurement Officer Marc Engel explains: “Climate change, water scarcity, unsustainable farming practices, and rising populations all threaten agricultural supplies and food security. Half of the raw materials Unilever buys are from the farming and forestry industries, so ensuring a secure supply of these materials is a major business issue. However, sustainable sourcing is not only about managing business risks, it also presents an opportunity for growth...

“Made in America” Has Broad Appeal at Variety of Levels

Posted by Ruth Kinzey on Wed, 2013-10-30 09:13

U.S. Mart, a retailer based in Venice, Florida, celebrated Labor Day by supporting U.S. veterans and manufacturers. The company, which only sells American-made products, donated 20% of that day’s profits to the local American Legion.

Over that same holiday weekend, retailers, including Best Buy, Kiehl’s, Omaha Steaks, Walmart, Ball and Buck, All American Clothing, and OTTE, recognized the American worker by offering special deals on American-made products.

Through Walmart’s involvement, this marketing campaign became linked to a two-day summit in Orlando, which focused on the “Made in America” concept. Here, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, eight governors, officials from three dozen states, and 500 businesses discussed how the United States could grow its manufacturing base to create American jobs.

Like any campaign, “Made in America” will take time to reach its goal. But in the interim, organizations supporting American-made or locally grown products have the opportunity to gain public goodwill.

For companies supporting this cause, a strategic internal communication campaign can educate employees on the important role they play in America’s economy, help instill pride in workplace performance, encourage associates to support U.S. commerce by purchasing...

A Year Later: Business Dedicated to Long-Term Hurricane Sandy Relief

Posted by Gerald McSwiggan on Fri, 2013-10-25 12:06

The one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy is coming up next week, on October 29.  On that day, you will be hearing many stories about the “Superstorm,” ranging from heartfelt stories of perseverance to tragic stories of loss to criticisms of a slower than expected recovery. 

Watch Our Business Reponse to Hurricane Sandy Playlists
Features 11 Companies Dedicated to the Long-Term Recovery of Communities Impacted by Hurricane Sandy

I have been working at BCLC for six years, and disasters have been a part (sometimes much more than a part) of my work for all of that time.  One thing that I have learned is that they call them disasters for a reason.  There has never been a perfect relief or recovery, and as long as humans are running things, there never will be.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t do better.  A few years ago, I wrote a whitepaper on what a successful disaster recovery looks like and I think that many of those same lessons still apply today. 

One thing has changed a lot in the six years I have been at BCLC – businesses today are more...

A New “Grand Strategy” for Sustainability

Posted by Jennifer Gerholdt on Thu, 2013-10-24 14:10

“Sustainability is not a stinking green movement!” Retired Marine Colonel Mark “Puck” Mykleby kicked off his panel session at last week’s GreenBiz VERGE conference at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

At the core of his passion for sustainability is the idea that for the United States to remain secure and to prosper in the 21st century, we must move beyond the status quo and adopt a new strategy, with sustainability at its core.

Mykleby works as a Senior Fellow with the New America Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank and public policy institute headquartered in Washington, D.C. The New America Foundation asserts business as usual is no longer an option, that the current system is unsustainable. Three billion people are expected to enter the middle class in the next 20 years, resulting in a 300% increase in resource consumption. This will put unprecedented strains on our natural resources, including energy, water, food, and strategic minerals. In addition, high commodity prices, lack of resilient infrastructures, critical systems, and supply chains all pose significant challenges around the world.

Sounds pretty depressing right? The good news is the...

MDGs to SDGs: An Opportunity for Businesses to Join Forces

Posted by Drs. Brad Googins & Phil Mirvis on Tue, 2013-10-22 17:29

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set in 2000 by 189 United Nations members, were aimed at significantly improving social and economic conditions in the world's poor countries by 2015. As this deadline approaches, some controversy has arisen over the progress made over the MDG’s thirteen years and counting.

Most experts agree that the proportion of people living in poverty (defined as earning $1.25 per day) has been cut-in-half since 2000 (thanks mostly to jobs created in India, Bangladesh, and China). World hunger has also declined (1-in-8 suffers from under-nutrition today versus over twenty percent two decades ago). But when it comes to MDGs of universal primary education, gender equality, maternal health, sanitation, and such, progress ranges from mixed to middling to dismal.

How dismal?   One new study by a Howard Friedman of the U.N. Population Fund (which was disavowed by the UN and published independently) reports: “The general result was that there was no trend in statistically significant accelerations in the MDG indicators after 2000.”  A closer looks at the data, however, shows that some poor countries have made substantial progress in many areas, but that others have not moved the needle at all.

Ok, what has this got to do with business? 

The UN Global Compact and the MDGs

In 2000, businesses throughout the world were invited to join the...

Giving Beyond Borders

Posted by Scott Jackson on Wed, 2013-10-09 12:30

In the more than 20 years I have spent working in the international development sector, I have seen corporate giving transform from simple philanthropy to companies seeking to become a true partner in addressing global challenges alongside NGOs. As corporations become more global, so does their giving; businesses are targeting their corporate social responsibility efforts in communities abroad in which they operate, have a customer base or just see a need. This is happening at a very opportune time.

As U.S. public funding for global development declines, there is a strong need for increased private and corporate participation in development programs worldwide. Given these circumstances, Global Impact decided to take a deeper look at what drives U.S. corporations to give money and invest in development programs outside the U.S.

Today, we are releasing the results of our research study, “Giving Beyond Borders: A Study of Global Giving by U.S. Corporations.” The study, performed by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, explores the scope and depth of international giving by U.S. corporations and examines what makes corporate-nonprofit partnerships successful.

The study identified two major determining factors that propel U.S. corporations to give to a program or charity in a foreign host country:

    ...

Fueling the Next Generation of America’s Skilled Workers

Posted by Laura Coy on Tue, 2013-10-08 16:44

Many businesses that rely on skilled workers report difficulty finding qualified individuals to fill open jobs. In fact, skilled trades have been the hardest segment of the workforce for employers to staff for the last three years, according to ManpowerGroup

Partnerships that help align the skill needs of businesses with the training offered by community colleges are a solution to build a stronger workforce, but many don’t know where to start.

October is “Skilled Trades Awareness Month,” a time when Grainger, the leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products serving businesses and institutions, invites the nation to honor, celebrate and raise the visibility of the skilled trades. To kick off the month, Grainger has launched an interactive skilled trades playbook called “Dynamic Partnerships for a New Economy” that connects businesses and community colleges in an effort to boost local workforce development.

A Playbook for Partnership

The Playbook, developed in partnership with...

The Next Big Business Problem: Childhood Hunger

Posted by Chef Greg Silverman on Tue, 2013-10-08 16:12

[Editor's Note: Join Chef Greg Silverman and other leaders on October 9-11 for The Network Effect: How Business Drives Progress. Space is limted, register today.]

As a chef and former restaurant owner, I like you all, know that human capital is often the most expensive investment a business makes. Training, mentoring and developing staff can have a big price tag, especially on a small business.  Yet our nation’s human capital is threatened by one very common problem – childhood hunger.

In our nation today, one out of five children struggles with hunger. Making sure these kids get the food they need every day isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing.

In the short term, when kids don’t get enough of the healthy food they need, they feel the instant effects. They’re tired and sluggish. They can’t concentrate in class. They have behavioral problems. They don’t feel well and suffer from headaches and stomach aches.  Thiscan have serious, long-term effects on their future success, as childhood hunger negatively affects health, academic achievement and future economic prosperity. We can’t have a strong America with weak kids.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending childhood hunger by connecting kids to effective nutrition programs, like school breakfast, and educating low-income families to stretch their food...

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