by Peter Scher

Companies should upskill for social change

Skilled for the challenge

Companies should dig deeper to create social change
Companies should dig deeper to create social change

Corporate philanthropy was once defined by the checks a company wrote to charities. But money, while critical, is only one of many assets a company can bring to bear – and often times, it is far less powerful than the skills and capabilities that companies can draw from their business operations and apply to solving big social challenges.

That is why increasingly global corporations are rethinking their approach to corporate responsibility, evolving toward a model in which traditional donations are supplemented by innovative programs and initiatives that tap into the core strengths of the business.

This trend is evident across industries and across critical social causes. When natural disasters strike, retailers and logistics companies are often among the most effective responders, leveraging their supply chain expertise to help governments (and sometimes independently) deliver food, water and temporary shelters in a matter of days.

Technology and Internet companies are turning their algorithms and access to vast troves of data to do everything from monitoring for the outbreak of infectious diseases, to creating platforms for political organization in emerging democracies.

Bringing skills to bear

The financial services sector is no exception in this growing phenomenon. 

In the past, companies might have found it sufficient to simply donate money to a non-profit. What is so exciting about this new approach is that it allows companies to maximize their impact by unleashing the skills, expertise and relationships they have built throughout their careers.

A collective responsibility

In the coming years a key challenge will be finding the right models for measuring impact. But there is reason for optimism. Global corporations can contribute technology, talent and capital at enormous scale. The upshot will be partnerships that empower the world’s non-profits and other problem solvers with powerful tools, access to great minds and unprecedented sources of financing.

The bottom line is that global enterprises and the men and women who lead them are realizing that our long term success will be defined by our collective ability to lift more people out of poverty, preserve our natural environment, educate rising generations and create the fundamental conditions for widely shared prosperity. And the best way to do that is to apply our robust capabilities to helping solve these great challenges.


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Issue 23


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