Big-Hearted Blue

The Economist, October 2010

IBM managed to address some of the challenges involved with corporate volunteering by creating an international volunteering program – the IBM Corporate Service Corps. Teams work pro bono with municipalities and governments in the developing world to help develop new strategies in areas ranging from public transport and water supply to food safety and innovation. Launched in 2007 as a “corporate version of the Peace Corps”, the program is now being scaled up to 500 IBM employees a year while more than 10,000 have applied to take part in it so far. As described in the Economist, recipient communities benefit from an influx of talented problem-solvers, the company’s brand is polished and it gets a squadron of leaders with new skills, while it also increases the commitment of participating employees to IBM.

According to IBM, the biggest challenge has been to ensure that the corps is actually benefiting those it claims to help, especially as the missions last only four weeks for staff and three weeks for executives.

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