Best Corporate Steward - Finalist, Western Union

Overview

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions-branded payment services, provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders.

The Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta-branded services are offered through a combined network of 455,000 Agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In 2010, The Western Union Company completed 214 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $76 billion of principal between consumers, and 405 million business payments.

Doing Well and Doing Good

"Western Union drives corporate responsibility through ethical global operations and creates shared value by offering innovative and reliable services that make it more competitive while benefitting society by better meeting people’s financial needs.

"By the nature of its business, Western Union helps lift up people and economies across the globe. It offers the freedom to easily move money reliably, quickly and in cash to virtually any place in almost any country, opening up new possibilities for the underserved, for everyday consumers and for businesses whose financial needs aren’t being met elsewhere.

"As the largest player in a huge flow of resources, Western Union is a force for economic growth and a mainstay for a hundred emerging nations. Around the world and in more than 40 countries where remittances make up 10% or more of GDP, Western Union creates shared value for consumers by providing access to capital sent by friends and family members. Remittances to many of these countries are significantly greater than international aid and foreign direct investment."

Corporate Stewardship Highlights

Our World, Our Family

In September 2007, Western Union launched Our World, Our Family,® a 5-year, $50 million commitment that equips individuals and families worldwide with the skills, knowledge and resources essential to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Our World, Our Family combines the power of Western Union’s globally recognized-brand, the value of its services and the impact of its corporate foundation to create a social initiative focused behind a single cause: fostering global economic opportunity. 

Our World, Our Family is comprised of three components:

Under Our World Gives, Western Union, its foundation, Agents, employees and NGO partners are working to help those the global economy has left behind. Donations from employees and Agents and generous matching contributions from the company help to fund the Foundation’s financial grants around the world. 

Through Our World Connects, Western Union is connecting people with the educational resources they need to move beyond a subsistence lifestyle. Many of the company’s ethnic marketing initiatives support programs such as job training, life skills and language acquisition. 

Through Our World Speaks, Western Union is speaking out for its consumers and the needs of disadvantaged communities, advocating a global economy that offers equal opportunity for all. The company works to catalyze a fact-based dialogue, engaging governments, NGOs and other corporations on a range of issues that matter to its stakeholders. 

Since its introduction, Western Union’s Our World, Our Family® initiative has provided more than 800 grants in over 100 countries and has touched more that 1.85 million lives. 

Economic Empowerment Partnership with Mercy Corps

Perhaps the most significant initiative undertaken as part of Our World, Our Family is Western Union’s partnership with Mercy Corps, one of a selective handful of strategic philanthropic partners.

Mercy Corps turns crisis into opportunity for 10 million people each year and has played an important role in Western Union’s Our World, Our Family initiative since its launch.

Over the course of the relationship, Western Union and Mercy Corps have positively impacted the lives of more than 698,000 people across the globe, including:

  • 5,200 small business owners gained skills to create jobs in a tough economy
  • 36,600 remittance receivers received financial training/materials
  • 50,000 newly-arrived migrants were welcomed with information to help in their assimilation 
  • 161,000 beneficiaries of disaster response and recovery services 

In 2010, the Western Union/Mercy Corps partnership impacted individuals in some of the world’s most impoverished regions and in communities devastated by natural disaster.

Highlights of the program include the financial education of migrant women and children in China and the donation of seed capital to 20 – 30 small enterprises struggling to survive and grow after the earthquake in Haiti.

In Guatemala, Western Union and Mercy Corps helped to pioneer a sustainable approach to rural economic growth and health by establishing 13 pharmacies in remote, mountainous areas of the country. The program not only ensured that more than 13,000 residents had regular access to life-saving medicine, but also created jobs. 

In 2011, the Western Union/Mercy Corps partnership will expand its reach from 13 to 15 countries in Africa, the Americas and Asia, contributing $500,000 to programs that continue the focus on the economic empowerment of individuals and families.

Time-tested approaches will help entrepreneurs improve their livelihoods through small businesses that offer affordable, nutritious food; provide water and sanitation services; and create and market personal care products and household supplies otherwise unavailable in their communities. New programs and tools to encourage saving and improve money management will be tested and brought to scale via the global networks of both organizations. 

Corporate Leadership

Recently-retired CEO Christina Gold inspired a culture of philanthropy at Western Union, insisting that corporate citizenship would define the company after its spin-off from First Data.

Gold modeled significant engagement, enlisting 52 senior executives as champions responsible for a global philanthropic program. She also personally determined the company’s five-year, $50 million cause commitment level.

Gold also launched a program that encouraged employees to become more involved in their community. She instituted an employee month of giving and a new policy of paid time-off to volunteer that continues today under the leadership of current CEO Hikmet Ersek.

Ersek has championed the concept of shared value, insisting that the corporation think of its societal impact as an integral part of its business. Ersek continues to spur Western Union’s senior executive committee (EC) to regularly reach out to employees, encouraging unprecedented levels of community involvement.

He urges his EC to lead by example with 9 out of 10 members now serving on NGO boards. EVPs are encouraged to serve on the Western Union Foundation board. For the company’s 2011 Month of Volunteering, each member of the EC, as well as other senior leaders across the company, have led their teams in employee volunteer activities all around the world.

Ersek also continues to champion the idea of Agent involvement in stewardship activities. He personally meets with Agents on responsibility issues and encourages them to partner with Western Union on issues of importance to their community.