CSR Index: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

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.

8 Responses to CSR Index: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

  1. Lord Volton says:

    I think Intel gets a lot of positive PR from its presence in Israel. I believe the only other thing that might have gotten more attention in the last year is the Israeli Baseball League.
    Perhaps Intel could become a sponsor and then that would be moot a point? =-)
    I also think the fab in Ireland has also been treated favorably by the press. Ireland and Israel are interesting case studies for U.S. corporations with an overseas presence.
    I know that Ireland has favorable tax advantages and Israel has a lot of very bright engineers.
    On the flipside, Intel has received some negative publicity with regard to India. I know that there are some infrastructure issues with respect to water and electricity, but it seems like this could be an area where social responsibility and technology come together.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if Intel worked with India to solve the water and electricity problem in at least one part of India to prove it can be done elsewhere.
    I believe Intel is shooting for 20% of the mobile telephone market with Silverthorne and the fastest growing handheld market is India. Why not work with India to produce mountains of Silverthorne processors in India for the local market?
    And that is the same market that could make good use of sub $100 smart phones/computers.
    I believe India is a much, much better bet over the long haul than China since it has a free market and respects human rights (i.e., freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, etc.). More importantly, most of its growth is domestic and not dependent on foreign exports.
    Some food for thought.

  2. Revital says:

    Thanks Lord for your comment. I think Intel gets a lot of positive PR from its presence in Israel and Ireland as the Intel investment in both countries impact gross domestic product (GDP), foreign direct investment (FDI),export and trade growth .The Intel investment also reached far into the local communities effecting education, the countries knowledge base, workplace standards and business culture like: driving CSR as an integrated part of our business culture.
    About become sponsor of the Israeli Baseball League … this is a good idea! however our main focus and efforts center on improving teaching and learning through the effective use of technology. We focus on advancing math, science, and engineering education and research.

  3. Lord Volton says:

    “however our main focus and efforts center on improving teaching and learning through the effective use of technology.” – Revital
    There is no better use of technology than actually using it. I think part of the problem within education is the slow rate at which they embrace it.
    You can give a teacher a brand new PC with all the latest gadgetry but that doesn’t mean they’ll make use of it if they’re stuck doing things the way they’ve always done them.
    Fortunately we don’t need every teacher to change, since a small handful can now reach the masses.
    Teaching the teachers how to use technology to go beyond the classroom is the next big step. I don’t think it’s any longer simply a technology issue.
    They already have way, way more technology than they’re using. Go to a law school and see how they teach their classes.
    Everyone is carrying multiple 25 lb books. And the professors repeat the same material they have for years. There are no magical cut aways to examples, etc.
    It’s all very 1950s.
    And I think part of the blame rests with the technology companies that haven’t really sat down with educators to figure out with them how to use the technology. Technology companies see eye to eye with other technology companies that use their systems, but when it comes to those who aren’t making a living from the technology itself there is a GIANT gulf.
    To say otherwise is to ignore what is going on in schools. The technology is about a decade ahead of teachers and the gap continues to grow.
    I have a challenge for you. Go to google video and see how many fantastic courses there are which are freely available to anyone with an internet connection.
    Physics, History, Sociology, etc.
    What you’ll find are a few hobbyists, but a shocking lack of any real effort on the part of schools, universities, and the technology companies that claim to be pushing the envelope when it comes to education.
    The proof is in the pudding. ;-)
    P.S. Berkeley is a notable exception, although I don’t think they distribute it freely on google/youtube which would be nice.

  4. Revital says:

    I agree teachers need high-quality professional development to make this fundamental shift in practice.
    Intel drives the Intel® Teach program which is a professional teacher development program, we have trained over 4 million teachers in 35 countries. Teachers learn from other teachers how, when and where to incorporate technology into their lesson plans, with a focus on developing students’ higher-order thinking skills.

  5. elaine cohen says:

    As a csr consultant working in Israel, i acknowledge Intel’s commitment and leadership in the field of CSR. The Maala ranking provides a useful industry benchmark and Intel’s participation serves to increase its legitimacy as a must-have for both local Companies and locally-operating multinationals. I agree that there are several areas of leverage to be gained internally and externally by participating in this process. I look to Intel to demonstrate further csr leadership by (1) understanding impacts and outcomes of effective csr strategy and implementation (rather than just inputs and actions, which tends to be the data requirement of the Maala ranking ) ie what kind of a difference the company is making in society – impacts and outcomes both of doing business and of doing it responsibly and (2) engaging in stakeholder discussion about material issues .
    Anyway, so far well done for setting a leading example in the Israeli market
    regards,
    elaine cohen

  6. Revital says:

    Thank you Elaine for your comment. We currently working on 2008 plans so it is a good timing for us to consider your good suggestions.

  7. Aniisu says:

    This is an excellent post and I am happy to read the good work Intel is doing in the CSR space in Israel.
    I noted that you mentioned internal communications as a side effect. My personal viewpoint ( since I am an internal communications professional) is that communications is vital to any CSR program – from the start till the end. It is the glue that binds employees with the objectives and thereby provides the organization an added advantage.
    Regards
    Aniisu

  8. Revital says:

    Thank you Aniisu for your comment !
    The employees are the best CSR ambassadors of the company and that why internal communication is crucial.