I feel like I’ve been hearing that acronym a lot lately.  CSR or corporate social responsibility seems to be a growing trend.  Or is it a trend? Either way, it’s something companies should be doing.  CSR is synonymous with corporations and their efforts to become good corporate citizens.  I don’t think I really understood the value of CSR until earlier this semester when I had to research the CSR efforts of IBM.

IBM was ranked third in Corporate Social Responsibility by CRO Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens for 2009 and if one visits their website it is easy to tell why.  A good portion of their corporate website is dedicated to their CSR initiatives, programs and efforts.  And if one types “Corporate Social Responsibility” on their search box another section dedicated to showing other companies how to set up their own corporate responsibility initiatives will be displayed.

IBM states on their website that the main focus of their corporate citizenship activities is on “developing initiatives to address specific societal issues, such as the environment, community economic development, education, health, literacy, language and culture.  [They] employ IBM’s most valuable resources, [their] technology and talent, in order to create innovative programs in these areas to assist communities around the world.“  IBM is mainly active in seven main areas.  They understand that the world is connected so they make it a point to contribute in crucial affairs.  They help when disasters strike.  They assist victims of natural disasters with their Web-based “disaster relief in a box” management system, which provides essential tools for tracking missing persons, coordinating relief efforts and managing pledges for support.  Additionally, they address food shortages.  For instance, IBM is using their World Community Grid to improve the food itself by computing genetic data to develop stronger strains of rice.  They are hoping to provide “more nutritious yields, pest and disease resistance, and better water and nutrient use.”  Thirdly, they are making energy grids more efficient.  IBM is leading seven of the world’s top ten automated meter projects because according to them “a smart grid can save electricity and money and the planet, by linking smart meters in the home with instrumented power lines and plants.”  It seems that IBM’s corporate citizenship initiatives are pretty well rounded.  They are also improving educational opportunities.  They are creating the “Reinventing Education” program, which aims to bring the right people together in order to “identify barriers, develop solutions and implement them via the BlueSky open source portal.”  They have developed voice-recognition technology now in use in hundreds of schools around the world.  They also have early childhood interactive learning centers set up which makes sense for them since children are the future and some of them could end up working for IBM some day.  Furthermore, IBM does much for the environment by partnering with The Nature Conservancy to build advanced web-based tools for river basin management.  The software they have developed helps visualize the impact on ecosystem services and biodiversity of different scenarios for land water use.  IBM finds more than one way to help the community.  They have set up IBM’s “corporate Peace Corps.”  The program allows them to send teams of employees to different emerging countries to work on projects that combine economic development and job creation.  Lastly they are using software to plan the growth of our cities intelligently.  They are helping improve the concept of information sharing so that municipal services will be more efficient.

Overall everything on IBM’s agenda makes sense for them.  They are using what they do best, new software technologies for instance, in order to create a better tomorrow.  The reality is that their fast developing technologies can cater to a variety of areas or industries so they have the freedom to concentrate on whatever they desire.   I think they have made smart choices in that they have chosen to focus on important matters that really can and will affect the entire world.

They do a terrific job explaining in-depth what CSR is so that they can encourage other companies to take part.  They are a terrific example of what good CSR is and they are definitely making their presence known.

In my opinion, we need more companies like this.


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