CSR News

Women’s Economic Empowerment is Not Philanthropy

Posted on Friday, March 7, 2014 - 13:49

How should one celebrate International Women’s Day? For us at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, we celebrate by  bringing fifty of the greatest women’s empowerment leaders together with more than 500 “change agent” participants to document, through a multitude of themes, that economically empowering women is not only possible, but there is no other choice. On Tuesday, March 4, we celebrated International Women’s Day with a phenomenal gathering of speakers that reiterated over and over again that the “time is now” to create a paradigm shift for women’s role in the world.  With our partners, United Nations Office for Partnerships and Business Call to Action, our fourth annual International Women’s Day event was filled with inspiration and calls to action.

One of the clearest messages of the day is that there is a strong business case for empowering women, and the “time is now” to act. As Michelle Greene, Head of Corporate Responsibility at NYSE EuroNext, said passionately, women’s empowerment is a, “strategic imperative,” not philanthropy. Corporate leaders from IBM, Ann Inc., Coca-Cola, Gap Inc., and others noted over and over again that investing in...

KPMG and Enactus Empower the Next Generation of Leaders

Posted on Friday, March 7, 2014 - 09:12

I wanted to share more with you about Enactus, an organization that KPMG proudly supports. This global nonprofit is dedicated to enabling real human progress through entrepreneurial action. Their vehicle for change is the passion and dedication of college students around the world working on community outreach projects focused on empowering those in need and creating sustainable change. This community of business, student, and academic leaders has a presence in more than 35 countries with more than 65,000 students enrolled at more than 1,600 academic institutions all through the generous support of more than 400 corporate partners.  

I would encourage you to learn more about joining the Enactus network and to that end would like to invite you to attend their upcoming Enactus USA Expo taking place in Cincinnati, Ohio from March 31 to April 3. The USA Expo is a unique cross-generational leadership experience for student, academic, and business leaders. The event includes a national competition, which is a showcase of how Enactus students are transforming lives and enabling progress through entrepreneurial action.


High Impact Funds: Harnessing Collective Action for Good

Posted on Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 17:15

During the 20 years I have spent working in international philanthropy, I have seen enormous strides made towards the goal of eradicating poverty. Be it through programs on the ground, grassroots initiatives or fundraising campaigns. Despite this progress, much remains to be done. The next step in creating a healthier and happier future for those in need must come from organized, concerted collective action.

The problems facing us today are too great for any one group to tackle alone. We must partner, leverage action, and pool resources in order to make additional progress. One movement in collective action that my organization, Global Impact, is investing in is High Impact Funds.

Designed to be a turnkey solution for donors, especially corporations looking to increase their global citizenship, High Impact Funds harness together small groups of best-in-class charities working on a common issue. This collective action is then leveraged to make a larger scale impact, providing donors (be they individuals, corporations or foundations) with an opportunity to take advantage of these funds so that their gifts and investments go further toward helping those in need.

High Impact Funds are a particularly great tool for corporations...

The Key to Successfully Banking the Poor: Start with Women

Posted on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - 12:13

By: Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO, Women’s World Banking

“That would make us feel very proud and our lives would be very happy every day.”

You could probably make several well-reasoned guesses about what life-altering experience this woman from Malawi was referring to and still not guess that she was describing how she would feel if she could open a bank account in her own name. As we approach International Women’s Day, we’ll hear many stats and figures about the lives of women around the world today. Here’s one that may surprise you: over one billion women don’t have access to the most basic of financial tools, a savings account. For this woman, and millions of other low-income women throughout the developing world, having a bank account is aspirational, representing safety, security and the opportunity to be treated with dignity.

With no access to financial institutions, low-income families are forced to conduct all of their daily transactions in cash; cash is literally hidden under the mattress, subject to theft or within easy reach of family members asking for a loan that won’t be paid back. A cash-only society means traveling long distances to transact business, taking time away from school or a job that puts food on the table. Carrying cash puts women and girls in particular at greater risk.

While cash-based societies face these challenges, there is growing evidence around the world that an increase in the number of...

Microsoft’s Employees Raised Record-Breaking $113 Million for Nonprofits in 2013

Posted on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - 12:13

By: Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft.

The past year has been a busy one at Microsoft – and not just because of new products, a new acquisition and a new CEO. It has also been a busy time for our employees and their support of the nonprofit community.

In fact, 2013 was a record-breaking year! Microsoft’s employees raised $113 million for 19,123 nonprofit organizations worldwide. Amidst Microsoft’s transformation, the value of community involvement continues to define us as employees.

The $113 million total includes our employees’ cash donations, the company’s matching contributions, and $7.8 million from Microsoft to match volunteer hours logged by our employees. Our volunteer program provides a Microsoft contribution of $17 for every hour spent by our employees. Last year, more than 7,400 employees participated, logging almost 460,000 volunteer hours to help nonprofit groups. This has been growing – enough so that 2014 may well see Microsoft...

Happening Now: Turning Inspiration into Action -- Annual International Women's Day Forum

Posted on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 08:16

Today womens economic empowerment leaders are at the United Nations for Turning Inspiration into Action: Next Steps for the Private Sector to Empower Women Globally. Even if you're unable to attend, you can still participate in our annual celebration of International Women's Day by watching our live stream! Also be sure to join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #Inspire2Act and @USCCFBiz4Good.

From Millions to Billions Case Study of Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in Mexico



5 Quotes From Women Who Are Changing the World

Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 - 13:50

Yaweta Chavula, of Nairobi, from left, and Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former U.S. President Bill Clinton ,
listens while Laiba Shahzadi, of Pakistan, speaks during the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in
New York. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg.

How do we empower girls and women around the world? The answers do not come easy, but five influential women, all of whom will be speaking at the Chamber's Corporate Citizenship Center International Women's Day event at the United Nations next week, have done inspiring work in making the world a better and safer place for women. Here are some of our favorite quotes. 


Women’s Work Is the World’s Work

Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 13:47

By Rebecca Webber
[Editor's Note: The following article originally posted in Daily Beast and features Dotti Hatcher, Executive Director of P.A.C.E. Global Initiatives, Gap Inc., and speaker at this year’s International Women’s Day Forum.]

The idea that work can empower women is not new. In fact, International Women’s Day, March 8, began over 100 years ago as a celebration of working women. It put the world on notice that one of the best paths to women’s equality is through job training, education and economic independence.

The years since have shown that when a woman succeeds in the workplace, everybody benefits—the woman, her family, her company, her community, and her nation. But today, although women make up 40 percent of the global workforce, in many countries their jobs are usually unskilled ones, clustered at the bottom of the pay ladder.

Changing Lives

The question is how we can help ensure women get the training that will get them the jobs that use their full potential.

One program aiming to do just that is Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) program, which...

Inclusive Business: Companies are Leading the Way

Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 12:13

Co-Author: Karen Newman, Senior Communications Consultant, Business Call to Action

As we reflect on this past year of women’s leadership leaning in and leaning out, and learning from young brave leaders like Malala Yousafzai, we recognize that 2013 brought progress. The world has seen women’s economic empowerment leaders emerge from diverse backgrounds with a common goal: achieving equal opportunity for every woman. Looking into 2014, we also recognize that large challenges of gender and economic empowerment still exist, and as leaders we need to continue facing the challenges with strong leadership and innovative solutions. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) and Business Call to Action (BCtA) believe that the private sector can lead the way for women’s economic empowerment. We also believe that all businesses have the power to be more inclusive and maximize positive social impact through their business operations. For us the ongoing question is how do inclusive businesses continue to advance their empowerment of women as entrepreneurs, producers, and consumers. From another angle we ask -- how does the private sector continue to respond to the business case for building inclusive businesses?  To further explore this issue,...

4 Ways to Reduce Youth Unemployment

Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 14:57

By: Jaimie Matthews, Manager of Policy and Programs at the USCCF's Center for Education and Workforce.

Even though the number of young people with a postsecondary credential or college degree is on the rise, the same cannot be said for youth employment, as many struggle to secure a job. Youth unemployment in the United States currently stands at 16.3%, an unacceptable figure, made even more dismal when including those who are currently working in jobs that do not make full use of their skills and abilities—commonly referred to as the “underemployed.” According to a recent report by the youth advocacy organization Young Invincibles, youth unemployment is costing American taxpayers $25 billion annually.

Here are 4 ways to reduce these numbers:

  1. Increase student exposure to jobs that are in demand—as well as providing a better understanding of industry needs.  This increases the likelihood that young people will find careers that suit their interests while making best use of their skills. Imagine if students were encouraged to explore several...