CSR and Wine? Now You’re Talking

DSC_2140.JPGFor years, many socially responsible investment firms have screened out alcohol from their portfolios. At this CSR event, one individual offered a great reason to “screen it in” with an innovative social impact project to address the critical issue of water.

Earlier this week, I traveled to DC to attend and present at the 2010 Global Corporate Citizenship Conference, put on by the Business Civic Leadership Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The theme for the conference this year was “Frontier Markets. Global Partnerships. Local Solutions.” and brought together a mix of companies, development agencies, nonprofits, and individuals looking for ideas on better ways to collaborate to address today’s global challenges – from disaster relief response (including a strong emphasis on Haiti) to access to quality education and healthcare. Breakout sessions honed in on specific partnerships at the regional level to understand some of the specific challenges and opportunities that differ by region. Lot’s of reflection also on the Clinton Global Initiative meetings from the week before and the question over the effectiveness of the Millennium Development Goals.

Here’s the link to the agenda and webcasts from the event and two additional perspectives on the event from Akhtar Badshah from Microsoft and Stephen Jordan from BCLC. A few of my own personal takeaways from the event:

Collaboration and Mapping. There was a strong focus on the need to collaborate – the sheer number of initiatives underway by companies and development agencies today is staggering, which is inspiring on the one hand, and frustrating/daunting on the other. There was a clear call from participants for the need to improve the mapping and transparency of efforts and needs to improve both efficiency and impact (see the example of the new BCLC Pakistan map.) I had the chance to connect with some of the nonprofit partners Intel has worked with for years, including NetHope and World Vision, who are finding ways to leverage whole groups of companies to tap into corporate expertise and resources in new ways. A number of other organizations, including Global Giving, talked about how to leverage technology and social media to connect and engage people around CSR and funding initiatives in new ways.

Tapping into Social Entrepreneurs. This topic has been hot in the past two years, and this conference was no exception – how can we look toward more innovative funding and new business models to tap into the creativity and local solutions being generated by individual entrepreneurs working on global challenges such as women’s empowerment and water. As keynote speaker Doc Henley, founder of Wine to Water noted “don’t overlook the little guys,” when looking for ways to solve problems on the ground. Doc was one of those great stories of someone who developed a personal passion and a compulsion to act – transforming himself from a bartender, to someone empowering communities to access fresh water. And he helps fund his efforts by selling wine – which we got to sample at the reception.

Balancing Global and Local. The need to balance a focus on global programs and partnerships that scale with the need to develop local and customized approaches to local challenges is certainly not new for us – it’s something that we continue to work on at Intel, and it was clear that other companies are trying to find that sweet spot as well. At Intel, our CSR management structure and prioritization reflects this – i.e. we have global programs, like Intel Teach and Intel Involved, with strategy set at the global level, but the partnerships and implementation need to be owned and driven at the local level. We also use this approach in our CSR reporting – we do a global CSR report, and then our regional CSR managers around the world work to localize in terms of content, language, and stakeholder engagement to ensure they are relevant.

Starting next week, we are planning on sharing examples of our local reports from my colleagues around the world – so look for those as we post to the blog. Also interested in others experiences in report localization and adapting global programs to effectively meet local needs.

One Response to CSR and Wine? Now You’re Talking

  1. Thanks for the shout out Suzanne. I think the sheer number of things that companies are doing is somehow getting lost or confused. Thanks for sharing what you are doing around the world. I hope that we can work together to increase the clarity of what is going on.