As one of the world’s leading IT companies, IBM prides itself on providing top-notch technology products and offerings for business. But IBM also offers a growing number of solutions for society at large in such areas as environmental protection, social computing, and community projects.
“Science is the core of our business – there’s no mistaking that,” noted Celia Moore, IBM’s Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs Executive in EMEA. “But as economy and society converge, we’re focusing more and more effort on how we can help the world develop.”
Celia delivered the keynote address at the recent IBM seminar in Haifa, “When Research Meets Corporate Social Responsibility.” Over 100 Israeli CSR professionals and volunteers gathered to discuss IBM’s efforts to help the planet on a global scale, with a special focus on the projects being carried out by employees and researchers in IBM Research – Haifa.
Becoming better corporate citizens
With the opening of the Copenhagen Climate Summit serving as a backdrop to the Haifa event, Celia explained how IBM’s efforts to make a smarter planet have extended to the corporate affairs domain as well.
“As recently as ten years ago, many companies saw social responsibility as connected almost exclusively to compliance with regulations and legislation,” she explained. “IBM has historically been a leader in such social areas as workforce diversity, cultural awareness, and helping those less fortunate. We have also seen corporate social responsibility evolve into an integral part of our business, providing strategic benefits, added efficiency, and access to new markets.”
Several of the speakers at the event focused on IBM’s use of IT resources to solve massive problems on a global scale. Haifa researcher Pnina Vortman gave a talk that showcased IBM’s efforts at creating smarter water systems, while fellow researchers Boaz Carmeli and Segev Wasserkrug described Research projects in the healthcare domain. IBMer Amnon Ribak summed up his recent trip to China as part of the China 6 team of the Corporate Service Corps, and IBM Haifa community relations leaders and CSR seminar organizers Ettie Gilead and Gili Ginzburg-Aizen presented an overview of the Haifa lab’s extensive CSR programs.
Supporting education in Haifa
Several external clients of IBM Research – Haifa CSR programs described the very real benefits being reaped by participants in the lab’s long-term educational projects. These projects include the joint program with University of Haifa in which HRL employees adopt students living in university dorms and the youth education project, in which HRL researchers provide lectures, workshops, and coaching to Haifa-area junior high school students.
“These programs give students more hope and help them believe in themselves,” said Ruth Gal, Principal of the Alliance School in Haifa whose students have participated in the HRL youth education project. IBM researchers often become role models for students, she noted. Past years have seen students’ achievements increase by a full mark or better after participating in the youth education program.
“We tell our kids to dare to dream,” Gal explained. “They discover that HRL researchers are people just like them, often with similar backgrounds, and then they realize – their futures are wide open.”