Last week, the Maala organization (an affiliate of BSR) published its index for social responsibility in Israel. I’m proud to note that Intel Israel was ranked as one of the top five privately-owned companies. The ranking is connected to the Maala CSR Index, which is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, on a daily basis.The Maala Index joins similar indices, like the FTSE4Good and Dow Jones Sustainability Index, in a small group of countries, including the United States, England, Australia and South Africa, that feature economic indicators and are used largely as directories for socially responsible investment. The companies included in indices of this type obviously benefit from the good reputation that accrues to them because of their social responsibility and the media coverage surrounding publication of the rankings. As Social Responsibility Manager, I find that participating in the ranking process brings additional added value. Getting internal buy-in. Three years ago, I dealt with the Maala ranking for the first time. Transparency and reporting are foundations of social responsibility and part of the criteria for being included in the ranking. Therefore, the first challenge that I faced was not gathering the data but rather presenting this new concept to management. By “new concept,” I mean the ideas of transparency; reporting and providing detailed information on various aspects of the company’s behavior that are not included in the auditors report. Because reporting of these things is not legally mandated, the company had not previously provided such information unless there was a work-related need. I was glad to find that managers were attentive to the subject. Perhaps they responded positively because social responsibility was then beginning to reach the headlines in Israel or perhaps it was because the subject carried positive connotations, with managers and also the general public in Israel perceiving it as synonymous with contribution to the community, philanthropy and employee volunteerism. So I realize that the Maala ranking is a powerful internal management tool to help engage the company’s executives and raise awareness of the complete range of corporate responsibility issues, throughout the business. By also positioning the Maala ranking as an index, the company’s executives realize, now more than ever, that corporate responsibility is part of running a successful business. Another side benefit: internal communications. The next challenge was gathering data. Social responsibility encompasses many aspects of the company, including environmental responsibility, the work environment, contribution to community, and ethics. This means that the data is dispersed among many departments and some of it had never previously been gathered. Therefore, the next step was to establish a cross-company work group comprising representatives of the relevant departments such as human resources, environment, finance and community relations. As a result, I found that the Maala index provides a useful internal communications tool and a framework for understanding CSR strengths and weaknesses. Hard work, but worth it! The systematic gathering of the data that was required to complete the ranking questionnaire was indeed tiring, but I discovered that it was also very much worth the effort. With the process over for another year, I have concluded that the Maala ranking/index is a good benchmarking tool for highlighting CSR areas of strength and weakness. Participation in the Maala ranking/index enables us to develop a strategic action plan for future CSR activity, and the data makes it possible to obtain a precise portrayal of the company’s situation in terms of social responsibility. This clear picture allows me to map the competitive strengths and weaknesses of Intel in comparison to other Israeli companies. It also enables me to identify challenges and opportunities in the field and use them to build an annual work plan based on an extensive database.
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