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Doing Good to Do Well
January 9, 2012

Last fall, Laura Benetti spent four weeks in rural India, helping women examine stitchery and figure out prices for garments to be sold in local markets.

After working nine-hour days, she and nine colleagues would sleep in a lodge frequented by locals that had spotty access to hot water and electricity. Ms. Benetti, a 27-year-old customs and international trade coordinator for Dow Corning Corp., considered it a plum assignment.

Dow Corning is among a growing number of large corporations—including PepsiCo Inc., FedEx Corp., Intel Corp. and Pfizer Inc.—that are sending small teams of employees to developing countries such as India, Ghana, Brazil and Nigeria to provide free consulting services to nonprofits and other organizations. A major goal: to scope out business opportunities in hot emerging markets.

Despite the promise of long workdays in less-than-cushy surroundings, many employees consider the stints prize postings. There are usually many more applicants than spaces: Intel, for example, says about 5% of its applicants win spots in its Education Service Corps.

Though referred to as "volunteer" posts, employees usually continue to receive their regular salaries during the stints, which typically last two to four weeks. They appeal to employees looking to develop new skills and donate time and expertise to those in need—or simply take a break from their routines.

"It gives more meaning to your career," Ms. Benetti says.

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Today's Leaders Should Be Global
April 19, 2011

While leadership development always has been at the core of most learning professionals’ charter, the importance of developing global leadership competencies recently has risen to new levels of criticality. It has been identified as a priority and significant hot-button issue by CEOs and CLOs alike, while also receiving heightened attention from academic authorities and consulting firms.
Successfully doing business today almost requires that an organization operate in the global marketplace, no matter where it is headquartered. As a result, a great deal of attention is being paid to cracking the code on how to perfect global leadership, irrespective of industry or company size. Top management is pressed to find ways to improve performance and to do so with greater consistency and effectiveness. Upcoming leaders need to have a broader skill set, one that equips them to think and act globally.

Successfully doing business today almost requires that an organization operate in the global marketplace, no matter where it is headquartered. As a result, a great deal of attention is being paid to cracking the code on how to perfect global leadership, irrespective of industry or company size.

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The Big Idea: Creating Shared Value
January 4, 2011

by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer

The capitalist system is under siege. In recent years business increasingly has been viewed as a major cause of social, environmental, and economic problems. Companies are widely perceived to be prospering at the expense of the broader community.

Even worse, the more business has begun to embrace corporate responsibility, the more it has been blamed for society’s failures. The legitimacy of business has fallen to levels not seen in recent history. This diminished trust in business leads political leaders to set policies that undermine competitiveness and sap economic growth. Business is caught in a vicious circle.

A big part of the problem lies with companies themselves, which remain trapped in an outdated approach to value creation that has emerged over the past few decades. They continue to view value creation narrowly, optimizing short-term financial performance in a bubble while missing the most important customer needs and ignoring the broader influences that determine their longer-term success. How else could companies overlook the well-being of their customers, the depletion of natural resources vital to their businesses, the viability of key suppliers, or the economic distress of the communities in which they produce and sell? How else could companies think that simply shifting activities to locations with ever lower wages was a sustainable “solution” to competitive challenges? Government and civil society have often exacerbated the problem by attempting to address social weaknesses at the expense of business. The presumed trade-offs between economic efficiency and social progress have been institutionalized in decades of policy choices.

Companies must take the lead in bringing business and society back together. The recognition is there among sophisticated business and thought leaders, and promising elements of a new model are emerging. Yet we still lack an overall framework for guiding these efforts, and most companies remain stuck in a “social responsibility” mind-set in which societal issues are at the periphery, not the core.

The solution lies in the principle of shared value, which involves creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges. Businesses must reconnect company success with social progress. Shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or even sustainability, but a new way to achieve economic success. It is not on the margin of what companies do but at the center. We believe that it can give rise to the next major transformation of business thinking.

Click here for full article from Harvard Business Review.
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A New Alliance For Global Change
December 7, 2010

We are witnessing a sea change in the way society’s problems are solved, work is performed, and businesses grow. Collaborations between corporations and social entrepreneurs can create and expand markets on a scale not seen since the Industrial Revolution. These markets will reach everyone, but especially the 4 billion people who are not yet part of the world’s formal economy. They will offer new and remarkable products and services in sectors as diverse as education, transportation, and finance.

You may be skeptical of this claim, and with good reason. The citizen sector—the term we use to define the millions of groups established and run by mission-minded individuals across the globe who are attempting to address critical social needs—has long been regarded as understaffed and inefficient. But that has changed. We work with some 3,000 social entrepreneurs worldwide, and over the past 30 years we’ve seen the citizen sector catch up with business as it has increased its productivity, size, and reach. Its organizations are attracting talented and creative leaders, and their work is changing the game in critical industries and areas such as energy and health care.

Click here for full article from Harvard Business Review.
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