IBM's Stan Litow: 3 steps to effective corporate citizenship

    This article is produced and published by Devex Impact: a global initiative by Devex and USAID that focuses on the intersection of business and global development and connects companies, organizations and professionals to the practical information they need to make an impact.

    Companies that want to integrate social-good objectives into their core business models, in order to maximize both social impact and ROI, should pay attention to three key areas, according to Stan Litow, vice president for corporate citizenship and corporate affairs at IBM.

    First, citizenship needs a governance structure that touches all corners of the company, said Litow during an interview filmed on the sidelines of the Business Civic Leadership Center Global Conference in October. Second, companies must design and track metrics to make sure programs are effective. Third, they must get buy-in from senior leadership.

    IBM began implementing change around those principles two decades ago, said Litow, who also serves as president of the IBM Foundation.

    “We shifted our focus from check-writing and check-book philanthropy to systemic reform, based largely out of innovations that came out of the IBM research laboratories,” Litow explained.

    Watch the full interview with Litow, which kicks off a series of interviews about the intersection of business and international development for our new website, Devex Impact. 

    Sign up for the weekly Devex Impact newsletter to receive the cutting-edge news and analysis on the intersection of business and development. Join the 300,000-strong Devex community to network with peers, discover talent and forge new partnerships - it’s free!

    About the author

    • Andrea Useem

      As former associate editor and content director for Devex Impact, Andrea created and managed cutting-edge content on the intersection of business and international development. An experienced multimedia journalist, Andrea also served as leadership editor at the Washington Post and spent three years as a foreign correspondent in Eastern Africa reporting for publications including the Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, and San Francisco Chronicle.

    Join the Discussion