AMCHAM CSR Conference Wrap-UP

Thursday, September 7, 2006 10:57
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After 2 month of planning, scoring 25 award applications, and arranging for our keynote speakers, it is my pleasure to announce that the 2006 AMCHAM CSR conference and award ceremony was a huge success!

In all, about 100 people were in attendance at the Children’s Welfare Institute’s Children’s Palace representing large corporations (Amway, Corning, GM, IBM, Intel, KPMG, Medtronic, Nike, Starbucks, Warner Bros, and others), SME (Blue Frog, CEIBS,  & Cross Cultural Interchange), and NGO (CereCare Wellness Centre, China CSR, Huaqiao Foundation, MDA, WWF, Shanghai Sunrise, Smile Train, and others). 

Speeches:

The stage was set by William Valentino (General Manager, Corporate Communications for Bayer) on the critical nature of understanding and aligning corporate strategies and CSR strategies.  Always a crowd pleaser, Bill laid the foundation by showing how it is possible for companies to balance the need to please stockholders and the need to be altruistic.

Dr. Eden Woon, VP of Greater China for Starbucks, followed Bill by taking the audience to the next step.  Throughout his 20 minutes, members were able to see the steps Starbucks (and others) take in constructing a comprehensive CSR program, whether it is getting employees into the community on a volunteer program, ensuring supplier compliance across the supply chain, or implementing strict governance controls across the organization.

Stefan Kratz of the Nature Conservancy Program brought a different perspective, that of the NGO to show us what it looks like from the front lines.  With Stefan working in the inner depths of the Yunnan province on several projects, he showed us the balancing act that he is performing when working between corporations, government officials, and doing the right thing for the long term sustainability of natural resources.

Following these speeches, came the media highlight of the event: the awards ceremony. 

Awards Ceremony:

Before I tell you who won, I would like to say that this year we say a nearly 100% increase in the number of submissions.  Last year we had a total of 14 applications (0 Chinese), and this year we received 25+ (2 Chinese).  The programs were much more comprehensive than last year, and we were able to see that many companies really were putting an effort into constructing really strong CSR programs.

In reviewing the submissions, we first segmented the applications on SME, MNC, and Chinese companies so that we could judge apples to apples on an organizational level.  We ran into a situation last year where 100% of the employees in a company were involved in programs, and that company had also ranked highly in other areas.  however due to their inability to scale the program, they were unable to win the overall award.  this year we made sure that would not happen.

Once segmented, we looked at four broad areas (Corporate Governance, Environmental Impact, Social Impact, and Workplace Practices) in judging the reach, impact, and sustainability of the various programs.  there were between 4-6 criteria within each of these, and the total score determined the winner.

After all that, we were left with our winners:
1) Ford – 1st Place for an AMCHAM member company
2) Coca cola – Merit Award for an AMCHAM member company
3) Shanghai Pudong Development Bank – 1st Place for a Chinese company
4) Shanghai Aerospace Equipment Manufacturer – Merit Award for a Chinese company
5) PMI International Trading – SME Award
6) Amway – Innovation Award

One note on the programs themselves, is that we are starting to see companies branch out more and more from the traditional mainstays.  Amway this eyar had a very comprehesive program, and more than that, they really climbed out of the bx and put together some innovative innitiatives.  As someone who runs an NGO in China, it is for me a highlight to see a company like Amway really go the extra mile (innvoation won Mary Kay the over all award last year).

Wrap Up:

Following the conclusion of the program, most of us concluded that this year’s program was a success from the word go. the fact is that while CSR is still in its infancy in many areas, the macro picture is that it is becoming a closely considered strategy in many boardrooms.  We saw an amazing difference between last year and this, and we hope that next year will provide the same.

I would like to thank my fellow AMCHAM CSR committee members, the staff of AMCHAM, the participating companies, and everyone else that made the gains this year possible. 

We are all living on the 3rd rock from the sun, and sometimes it is easy to get blinded by what seems to be more important at that time.  However, it is good to see that more and more people are being blinded by their need to construct comprehensive CSR practices rather than what will seemingly bring another 0 to the bottom line.

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