A New Private Sector Partnership to Share Business Skills

By Stephen Jordan, Founder and Executive Director, U.S. Chamber BCLC

A New Private Sector Partnership to Share Business Skills

By Stephen Jordan, Founder and Executive Director, U.S. Chamber BCLC

Over the last few years, BCLC has been working on different products to help companies manage their community engagement more effectively. At the recent Global Corporate Citizenship Conference (http://bclcglobal.uschamber.com), BCLC unveiled two products to do just that: our Business for Good Map and the International Business Corps.

The Business for Good Map has grown out of a persistent need to understand “who is doing what” in various CSR-related domains. For example, at our Health and Wellness working group meeting, we went around the room and found that several companies were supporting hundreds of non-profits or more, but none of the companies knew which ones the others were supporting.

The International Business Corps is another idea whose time has come. John F. Kennedy’s famous words—“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country—led to the establishment of the Peace Corps 50 years ago, and a similar spirit animates the IBC. Under the determined leadership of companies like Dow Chemical Company, Accenture, IBM, Amadeus, and others, the International Business Corps is about creating a mechanism to help skilled business professionals deploy their talents to build up small business and non-profit capabilities in emerging markets.

The International Business Corps is being piloted in Brazil, which is racing to get its infrastructure and social services upgraded in anticipation of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The aim of the new business corps is to pick a community of focus, evaluate needs, and identify high-impact non-profits that are helping to meet those needs but could use a boost of operational or professional skills support. Companies “deploy” volunteers for a certain length of time – some of the work can even take place from a volunteer’s desk during a normal working day, depending on the skills being leveraged.

What is motivating companies to do this? Changing generational expectations for one thing. The way people approach their jobs is changing fundamentally. Many people expect to change jobs and careers two to three times over the course of their work lives. As a result, companies can’t expect their loyalty, but they do want their commitment. This kind of intensive, skills-based volunteerism experience can be life-changing, while also building up skills, showcasing what the company has to offer, and strengthening the firm’s community relations. It’s a classic win-win proposition.

Both programs are very young, but they have huge potential. The more companies that join, the more powerful they will become. Consider this post an open invitation for your firm to participate.

Editor’s Note:

Re-posted with permission from The Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC). With the mission to advance better business and society relations, the BCLC helps the private sector understand the potential impact that current social and ethical issues could have on long-term economic development, in the U.S. and abroad.

The original blog can be viewed here.

Follow the Chamber BCLC on twitter at @chamberbclc

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