Best Corporate Steward Finalist: IBM

The "Shared Value" Category

Excerpts from the Nomination:

Today, for a company to be considered successful it must be both financially successful and socially responsible. IBM’s mission is to build a smarter planet. Our Smarter Planet business strategy touches on such vital concerns as global commerce, safe and secure online interactions, analytics to turn data into useful information, smarter transportation and communications, the intelligent use and preservation of natural resources, and the development of smarter cities – where more than half the world’s population resides.

IBM works to effect meaningful and positive change – building a smarter planet and creating sustainable value to make the world a better place. IBM's approach to corporate citizenship is to eschew the "spare change" approach and adopt the "real change" approach. “Spare change” reinforces the notion that corporate social responsibility is disconnected from business strategy. In this view, the goal is simply to be generous and to give back. There is nothing wrong with such a notion, but it is neither connected to the real resolution of critical societal problems, nor is it fully sustainable.

Real change is achieved by directly connecting IBM corporate citizenship to IBM’s core business strategy. Just as IBM produces technology innovation for its clients to address their global challenges, IBM innovates with these same professional skills and technology to address communities’ social and educational issues. In particular, IBM’s corporate citizenship efforts target education, workforce and economic development, sustainability, scientific research, and citizen engagement.

Community-wide success in each of these three areas is essential to building smarter cities and a smarter planet. A skilled workforce is essential to maximize technology and data to enhance the analysis, decision-making, and actions that embody a smarter planet. IBM works to create an educational pipeline of future innovators who will advance the use of technology to solve the world’s pressing problems. As with our work with clients worldwide, all of IBM’s top corporate citizenship initiatives involve collaborative partnerships with experts, demonstrate a deep understanding of the societal issues to be addressed, utilize technology for innovation, and seek to engage others in creating a smarter planet. IBM's uses its strengths in systems design and implementation, expertise in communications and marketing, and broad-based employee engagement to maintain momentum around these initiatives.

In June 2011, IBM marked its 100-year anniversary, almost unheard of in the technology industry. IBM launched a vast, hands-on Celebration of Service– a year-long skills-based volunteerism initiative supporting local organizations in communities worldwide. The initiative included an allocation of $12 million in grants designed specifically to encourage IBM volunteers to engage with nonprofits on skills-based projects. The initiative attracted 88% of IBM’s workforce, who donated their time and expertise to address civic challenges and societal needs in their local communities. Estimated as the equivalent of 1,090 years of volunteerism valued conservatively at $100 million, IBM’s Centennial Celebration of Service was the largest corporate volunteer event in history.

As it enters its second century, IBM continues to evolve from a technology and services company into an essential global enterprise that helps governments, industries and communities live and work smarter.

All Finalists

Capital One



UnitedHealth Group