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Business Civic Leadership Center 2012 Global Conference

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

By Andrea Useem12 November 2012

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. 

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About the author

Andrea useem devex cropped2
Andrea Useem

As Associate Editor and Content Director for Devex Impact, Andrea creates and manages cutting-edge content on the intersection of business and international development. An experienced multimedia journalist, Andrea 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.


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