Organizational initiatives under the corporate social responsibility program
(though mostly philanthropic in nature) often evoke strong reactions ranging
from interest to pure contempt. Even as supporters of CSR lock horns with the
cynics over the real motive behind corporate philanthropy, the truth of the
matter is that with the onset of globalization, the relationship between
business and society has undergone a sea change.
While many may argue that CSR is nothing more than a 'PR exercise' for most
of these multinationals; one also cannot simply put aside the fact that a
majority of the 'PR activities' undertaken by these millionCs have indeed
managed to make a difference.
Dell: Invest in youth
Driven by the philosophy to equip youngsters to learn and excel in a digital
economy, Dell launched its global philanthropic strategy for providing
additional support for education and digital inclusion initiatives. As Michael
Dell, Chairman and CEO, Dell succinctly puts it, “The next billion Internet
users coming online will largely live in emerging countries such as Brazil,
Russia, India, and China. And our new giving strategy is rightly focused on
equipping youth in these areas, and around the world for success.”
Significantly, from 2011 onwards, Dell will increase its overall corporate
giving to one percent of the company's pre-tax profits focusing on emerging
countries. In line with the new philanthropic strategy, the company introduced
YouthConnect Global Initiative, for directing corporate giving to organizations
in emerging countries for promoting education and incorporating math, science,
literacy and technology skills development for youth aged up to seventeen years.
Even amidst the gloomy economic scenario, Dell Foundation awarded 121 open
grants ranging from $500 to $5,000.
IBM: Back to school
Focused on preparing the next generation and supporting community priorities and
concerns, IBM's $75 million Reinventing Education program is using technology to
spur school reform. From 1999, the company conducted technology camps for
encouraging middle school students to develop interest in science, technology,
engineering and mathematics with IBM employees working as online mentors to the
participants. More than 10,000 students have participated in the camps to date.
Concerned with the declining interest of US grade school students in
technology and engineering streams, IBM recently launched PowerUp for Engineers
Week in 2008. Free of cost, the 3-d, online multiplayer game challenges players
to save the planet 'Helios' from ecological disaster while they develop critical
thinking skills, engineering and science knowledge.
IBM is also reaching out to people with disabilities by accessibilityWorks
tool which makes web content available to disabled people. More than 200 not for
profit organizations and schools in 28 countries now use accessibilityWorks, and
versions of the tool are currently available in multiple languages.
Oracle: Thinking ahead
As part of its philanthropic efforts for catalyzing learning, Oracle has
been working with key stakeholders running a suite of education programs. In
Asia-Pacific alone, Oracle runs three key education initiatives-ThinkQuest.org
(an educational environment for elementary students and teachers); ThinkQuest
competition (an international competition wherein students and teachers work
together to build educational websites; and Oracle Academy (helps students
develop database design, programming and professional skills).
The Oracle Academy provides software, curriculum, hosted technology, faculty
training, and certification resources to K—12 and higher-education institutions.
Every year, the Academy supports more than 6,55,000 students in 86 countries.
For instance, under the Egyptian education initiative, 35,000 academy
participants are developing IT and business skills; in Germany, 164 education
institutions are availing of cutting-edge curriculum to prepare students for
future employment. Every year more than 2,000 teachers are trained to deliver
the Oracle Academy curriculum through events held in countries like Philippines,
Singapore, China, Estonia, Netherlands and India.
Oracle employees too contribute by way of association with NGOs whether it is
for saving the environment or spending time with elders. In Sydney, volunteers
helped to clean up and protect critical habitat areas of Sydney's North Shore
beaches, assisting with the restoration of Pittwater foreshore. In Indonesia,
the volunteers in partnership with Bogor Agricultural University's Biology
Department, planted 1,000 trees in two acres of critical land at Bogor, West
HP: Innovative teaching
With a clear focus on transforming education by way of technology-based
teaching programs, HP, in 2008 invested more than $19.9 million. HP also runs HP
Technology for Teaching program-providing funding to improve learning and
promoting educational opportunities, and donated $12.7 million in cash apart
from giving away HP products and professional development training to 245
primary and secondary schools, colleges around the world in the last fiscal.
Recognizing the need to improve primary education, the company introduced HP
Innovations in Education program in FY '08 as the successor to the Technology
for Teaching program. Under the new program grants will be awarded to integrate
technology in classroom and redesigning engineering, computer science and IT
In order to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship, HP contributed $5.8 million
through its entrepreneurship education programs in 2008-to organizations that
provide business and IT skills training and support to recent graduates and
entrepreneurs. Its Graduate Entrepreneurship Training through IT program which
helps youngsters develop business and IT skills was launched in 2007. Within a
year, the program doubled its training centers to 70 in 25 countries and the
program now intends to reach over 5,00,000 students by 2010.
Intel: In aid of AIDS
In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Intel employees donated more than
1.3 million hours of service in over 40 countries. And through its Intel
Involved Matching Grant Program (IIMGP), the Intel Foundation matched employee
volunteerism by contributing over $8.5 million.
As education opens the door to opportunity, Intel has been involved in
education advocacy and technology access programs. Over the last decade, the
leading chipmaker has invested more than $1 billion.
The company's ambitious Intel Teach program provided professional development
for more than 1.1 million teachers in 2008, bringing the total number of
teachers trained to over six million in more than 50 countries since its
inception. The program was also expanded to Palestine, Kenya, and Hungary. In
India too, the program surpassed the one million teacher mark in 2008.
In October 2008, the Intel Foundation announced its single largest commitment
ever: a $120 million investment in math and science education over the next 10
Employee volunteers are also involved in community development programs. In
India, employees worked with a local NGO to train young people in the community
to become peer educators on HIV/AIDS prevention resulting in more than 16,500
slum youths benefiting from the training in 2008. Not only do the employees
volunteer time but also contribute by way of donating cash. Despite economic
uncertainty, Community Giving Campaign donations in 2008 increased 10.5 percent
over 2007 to a record $11.7 million, including $622,000 from Intel retirees.
With the Intel Foundation match, the total contribution amounted to more than