Leveraging the Value Chain and Acting Collectively Will Pave the Way to Systemic, Sustainable Change
Paula Davis is president of the Alcoa Foundation.
Shared Value Creation
Recently, I spoke at the Business Civic Leadership Center’s 2012 Global Corporate Citizenship Conference on the panel called Unlocking the Value Chain for Global Development. We discussed how organizations are increasingly looking to their workforce, partners and customers to adglobavance l corporate citizenship. Alcoa Foundation is focused on the environment and education – areas where we concentrate our dollars but, perhaps more significantly, tap into the many relevant resources of Alcoa Inc, one of the largest mining, manufacturing and engineering companies in the world, to make a difference.
In this way, we integrate CSR into our corporate practices and leverage dollars, products, physical assets, people and networks to create substantial and sustainable positive impacts.
I had the privilege of sharing the stage with colleagues from the nonprofit sector, corporate arena and government. We all agreed that to be successful we need to work together and solidify sustainability as a business imperative, an operating necessity and the key to earning a social license to operate.
Through the exchange of ideas, what stood out was DSM’s approach to involving and linking employees throughout the company to think of new sustainable initiatives; from car part developers to nutrition developers. The message: contributions are made in a diverse environment and on all levels.
Another prime example is Executives Without Borders bridging the gap between the business world and nonprofits. Their work in Haiti to create a recycling industry and a thousand jobs demonstrates the collective impact we all seek in developing countries.
Defining the Value Chain and Deploying Our Greatest Asset -- People
Alcoa Foundation has a robust value chain that encompasses not only the company’s suppliers, partners and customers, but also NGOs, nonprofits, the public sector, employees, their families and friends and retirees.
The shared value return for Alcoa is a more engaged workforce. Research shows that employees who can make a social or environmental impact at work are almost twice as satisfied with their job.
Our employees, in particular, are driving community improvements with lasting effects. Through direct service, they plant trees, clean up parks and feed the hungry. They also bring awareness to important causes and engage their own networks in their outreach. The shared value return for Alcoa is a more engaged workforce. Research shows that employees who can make a social or environmental impact at work, and get more involved in the causes that are important to them are almost twice as satisfied with their job.
Beyond direct service is skills-based volunteerism, which holds tremendous opportunity for our employees and retirees. Earlier this year, we joined A Billion + Change, a national campaign to mobilize billions of dollars in skills-based and pro bono volunteer services to help nonprofits meet community needs effectively. For 2012, Alcoa committed to having 10% or 100,000 of employee volunteer hours be skills-based volunteering. This would include everything from tutoring aspiring engineers and mentoring U.S. veterans to serving on nonprofit boards and offering financial, human resource or operational guidance to charities. This is an exciting frontier for Alcoa to develop.
For 2012, Alcoa committed to having100,000 employee volunteer hours be skills-based volunteering.
When the Triple Bottom Line Becomes One
Elizabeth Littefield, President and CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, spoke before our session and talked about the need to merge the “triple bottom line” to truly make CSR sustainable. She’s right. The integration of sustainability, profitability and corporate social responsibility across the value chain has been activated at Alcoa – permeating our values, products and processes and helping us earn a social license to operate around the world.
In Brazil, for example, when setting up a new bauxite mine in the rural community of Juruti, we approached this massive undertaking as a marriage of sorts. Rather than build a wall around our facility, we engaged and integrated, providing needed infrastructure improvements and working with citizens, local leaders, NGOs and nonprofits to identify ways to respect the environment, provide sustainable livelihoods for the people and enhance the region in a culturally relevant and meaningful way. The results are a successful business and a healthier, stronger community. We enlisted Alcoa’s entire value chain to achieve this.
For our commitment to sustainable development where we operate, I am proud to say that Alcoa has been recognized as a two-time Best International Ambassador finalist in the U.S. Chamber’s Corporate Citizenship Awards. We are honored to be nominated this year among other organizations that showcase innovative approaches in the areas of health (GlaxoSmithKline and FedEx), technology to drive entrepreneurship (Qualcomm), and solving water issues (Xylem).
As government, corporations and nonprofits take on the tough issues to strengthen society, we should think creatively – and collectively – about how best to deploy our assets along our value chains and, importantly, consider how we can work together to design programs that complement each other. If we incorporate sustainability as a component of our business or organizational strategy and identify effective conveners and aggregators who can bring us together and maximize our resources and value chains, then we will see systemic, sustainable change.
As government, corporations and nonprofits take on the tough issues, we should think collectively about how best to deploy our assets along our value chains. Then we will see systemic, sustainable change.