IBM's Corporate Service Corps Marks 5th Year of Volunteerism

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-06-14

IBM's Corporate Service Corps Marks 5th Year of Volunteerism

IBM has been cited by the U.S. Department of State for Big Blue’s dedication to corporate volunteerism as the company marks the fifth year of its Corporate Services Corps.

IBM celebrated the five-year anniversary of its Corporate Service Corps and the company was featured at a June 13 event hosted by the U.S. Department of State’s Global Partnership Initiative and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) aimed at promoting skilled international corporate volunteerism.

At the forum, IBM's Stanley S. Litow, the company's vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, discussed the size, scope and longevity of IBM's Corporate Service Corps. IBM's Corporate Service Corps deploys IBM's employees in teams of between 10 and 15 people to provide pro bono consulting services to local government, businesses, schools and not for profits -- mostly in the developing world and growth markets.

The initiative deploys IBM employees from around the world with expertise in technology, scientific research, marketing, finance, human resources, law, and economic development. Issues they address range from economic development, energy and transportation, to education and health care. The program deploys only 500 of IBM's highest performers annually from among thousands of applicants.

Moreover, IBM said that by the end of this year approximately 2,400 IBM employees based in 52 countries will have been dispatched on more than 187 Corporate Service Corps engagements, and undertaken 850 team assignments in 34 countries since the founding of the program five years ago, in 2008. Since that time, Corporate Service Corps has provided more than $70 million worth of skilled, pro bono consulting services and has directly benefited 140,000 people. Over the last five years, the program has sent more than 638 employees on 56 teams to 11 countries in Africa alone, a growing market for IBM.

IBM typically deploys teams several times per month. In fact, IBM said next week IBM Corporate Service Corps teams will begin work in Russia and Kenya. Meanwhile, teams in China, Morocco and Nigeria are finishing assignments this week.

Among some of the corps’ accomplishments during its five-year existence, an IBM team helped the Cross River province of Nigeria design a program to provide financial, healthcare and literacy assistance to poor women and children. In Brazil, IBM's advice enabled a network of dozens of children's hospitals and youth centers to become more efficient. In Vietnam, an IBM Corporate Service Corps team helped a travel agency increase its business and offer more services to clients. And in South Africa, a financial services agency is now making consumer loans with better repayment rates thanks to IBM advice, the company said.

IBM's Corporate Service Corps Marks 5th Year of Volunteerism

"It was a privilege to share our strategies for effective and skilled international corporate volunteerism with the business, government and not for profit communities assembled at the U.S. Department of State today," Litow said in a statement. "We are particularly pleased that so many companies have indicated their interest in operating similar programs. As 2013 marks the fifth successful year of IBM's Corporate Service Corps, we are proud of how sustainably the program helps governments and businesses throughout the globe. The program has also proved transformational for the skills and satisfaction of our employees, and complements IBM's core business strategy. While the model we established is scaled globally, with the aim of truly shaping a Smarter Planet, we feel that aspects of it can be successfully replicated at many organizations.”

IBM is pushing a trend in corporate America toward skilled international corporate volunteerism. Washington, DC-based CDC Development Solutions (CDS) -- one of the non-governmental organizations that helps IBM identify suitable projects for Corporate Service Corps -- estimates that in 2006, only six U.S. companies sent 280 employees to four countries, but by 2012, approximately 1700 employees in 24 programs were sent to dozens of countries.

“If only 100 of Fortune 500 companies sent 500 of their top talent on such assignments, we could collectively deploy 50,000 of the most talented leaders around the world to solve some of the most difficult problems facing society and, in the process, create remarkable goodwill," IBM’s Litow said in a statement.

USAID works with IBM and CDS to increase U.S.-based international corporate volunteerism. The trio operates the online Center of Excellence for Corporate International Volunteerism, which provides companies the strategies needed to make their own international volunteerism projects more effective. To that end, IBM has co-deployed on pro bono engagements with teams from such companies such as FedEx, Citi and John Deere.

Through its work with USAID and CDS, IBM deployed a team of experts to Ghana last year, where they helped formulate a supply chain for medicine. In June of 2012, an IBM team designed an information technology platform for trading energy within East Africa. And an IBM team went to Kazakhstan, where it worked to bolster economic growth.

Rocket Fuel