Does selecting a spouse and CSR have something in common?

Last fall I finally got around to reading David McCullough’s book on John Adams, the second President of the United States. If you were like me and having trouble finding time to read the book, I would suggest making the time. It is really a good read. But I am not writing a book review, so let me get to the point. Abigail Adams, the second First Lady and a remarkable woman, was not happy with her daughter’s choice of a suitor. In a letter to her daughter she said that there are two things that you should require from a potential husband. First, you should require that they are good and second, that they do good.

That advice really resonated with me. As the Director of Intel’s Corporate Responsibility Office, I seem to spend a lot of time trying to define for family, friends and co-workers just what Corporate Social Responsibility is. Of course, as practitioners, we don’t make it any easier by using a whole host of terms to describe the same thing, like environmental, social and governance (ESG) or corporate citizenship or too many other terms to list.

Maybe that is why Abigail’s advice to her daughter resonated with me. What a simple way to describe what it means to be a responsible corporate citizen. It really is about being good and doing good.

I am very fortunate to work for a company and with co-workers that takes that simple concept to heart. If you just look at the first month of our new decade, I can demonstrate this very simple concept.

First, let’s take a look at being good. Intel has a long history of doing what is right and our code of conduct and other guiding principles set the stage for excellent performance. But we are constantly faced with new issues and of course we always strive to improve our performance. In January the EPA announced that Intel is again the largest purchaser of renewable energy. It would have been simple to just say job well done, instead Intel announced a larger commitment to solar energy with eight solar projects at campuses across the United States. In fact, right out side my window, in Folsom, CA there will soon be a six acre solar installation.

Second, let’s take a look at doing good. Early in January Intel was at the White House to announce as part of the President’s education initiative a $200 million dollar commitment over the next ten years to science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM). The objective is to inspire future innovators and to prepare students in the United States to participate in the knowledge economy.

Also, in January the world was stunned by the tragic earthquake in Haiti. I am so proud of Intel and our employees for extending a helping hand. The numbers keep growing, but at last count Intel employees had donated over $740k and those dollars were matched by the Intel Foundation. With the employee gifts, the match from the foundation, a seed gift from the foundation, technology donations to relief efforts from Intel, the total commitment is over $2M. We continue to look for ways that we can help with what will be a long recovery process.

Are we good and do we do good? In my admittedly biased view I think the answer is yes. But the good news we don’t have to rely on my view. In January we received outside confirmation from multiple organizations and rankings. In Davos last week Intel once again was named one of the 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World. The Maplecroft launched its new Climate Innovation Indexes which ranks U.S. companies best equipped to handle environmental policy changes and produce climate-related innovation and Intel ranked second overall. Intel also ranked #2 for the second year in a row on Covalence’s annual ranking of corporate responsibility reputation among 581 multinational companies. And, last, but certainly not least, Intel was listed on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

What a terrific start to a new decade. And one that I am sure would pass the Abigail Adams’ test.

2 Responses to Does selecting a spouse and CSR have something in common?

  1. elaine cohen says:

    hello michael, many thanks for your post and great stuff from Intel, as we are used to seeing. I selected my husband on similar lines! Is he a good person with values and ethics. Does he do good things and support the people and community around him? I think these are great essential qualities. But there was another criteron. Can I talk to him? i.e is he a partner for dialogue? In the CSR context, this would equate to stakeholder engagement. Re my husband, i made a good selection (so far!). Oh, and one final point, this would also apply to selecting a wife 🙂
    thanks for the insights,

  2. Hi Michael, thanks so much for this thoughtful post on being good and doing good. I also completely agree with you and Elaine about the parallels of picking a spouse and working in CSR!
    Your post reminded me how, just the other day in one of my MBA classes, we were talking about values and how leaders know their values and use them to guide their decision-making. At the time I was struck by how the same could be said for companies with successful CSR programs – strong corporate values, just like individual values, will always act as an inner compass to guide business decisions and strategies.
    Like you said, at the end of the day we should ask ourselves – as individuals and as CSR professionals – what have we accomplished today that helps us be good and do good? It’s an internal litmus test that never fails to point us in the right direction.
    Thanks again for your post, and congratulations on all of Intel’s success.