Category: Social Impact
First Stop: Guatemala, in Support of the Primeros Pasos Medical Clinic
In Spring 2010, a group of first-year Boston University School of Management MBA Students launched the organization MBAid.
MBAid’s mission: To improve health care access to underserved communities through a partnership with the Primeros Pasos Medical Clinic in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, while giving School of Management students the opportunity to put their skills to work and learn from other cultures.
“I knew we would provide Primeros Pasos with resources they don’t have access to, while they could give us the chance to make a significant contribution to improving health care access.”
– Rob Segan, Trip Co-organizer (MPH/MBA 2011)
Their first initiative: Bringing supplies, money, and their own muscle to the Primeros Pasos Clinic. From May 9-15, 31 students from Cohort D of the first-year MBA class, along with four significant others, traveled to the clinic, where one of the trip organizers, student Rob Segan (MPH/MBA 2011), had worked from 2005-2006.
Primeros Pasos, formed in 2002, serves 7,500 patients per year. Working with 14 area schools and 12 daycare centers, they bring groups of students to the clinic to test for parasites, receive doctor and dentist consultations, and participate in health education classes. Staff then follows up by traveling to these local schools a few days later, providing talks on topics such as hygeine and nutrition, and delivering any necessary medication to students.
Of the trip’s inception, co-organizer Ajay Mehta (MBA 2011) explains, “Our goal was to create a trip that was enjoyable, accessible to a large number of students, and would have a real impact. Adds Segan, “We got along really well as a cohort, and we thought it would be fun to do something as a group after the semester was over.“
“Primeros Pasos is an example of the high value, low cost health services being developed in low resource settings. BU students are learning about the realities of this kind of innovation while providing important assistance to the organization.”
– Mark Allan, Faculty Director, Health Sector Management Program; Director of Health Systems Development, Family Medicine, School of Medicine
“The Primeros Pasos Clinic is an amazing organization,“ Segan says. “They are incredibly cost effective: there is no overhead and all paid staff are Guatemalans receiving a local salary. They operate on a budget of $50,000, which is amazing when you consider how much they do with that money. I knew we would could provide them with resources they do not have access to, while they could give us the chance to make a significant contribution to improving health care access.”
The takeaways so far: Through fundraisers hosted by Neel Madhvani (MBA 2011), Mike Guigli (MBA 2011), and Sheehan Perera (MBA 2011), the MBAid team brought US$2,000 in donations to the clinic—enough to cover doctor and dental consultations, health education classes, and medications for 400 children—as well as 500 toothbrushes, a microscope donated by group member Meredith Childs, and 50 health education books obtained by Nadja Godschalk (MBA 2011) through a donation from the organization 4imprint.
While in Guatemala, the MBAid team provided a well-needed paint job to the outside of the clinic and built white boards and bookshelves for donation to schools involved with Primeros Pasos. They also weighed and measured children visiting the clinic, and co-organizer Borja Gomez-Rojo (MBA 2011) assisted clinic staff by teaching a health education class at a local elementary school.
“This was chance for our cohort to strengthen our bonds while helping Primeros Pasos. In addition to volunteering, we climbed an active volcano, ziplined through the rainforest, took salsa lessons, kayaked in Panajachel.”
– Kim Vo, Trip Co-organizer (MS·MBA, Health Sector Management, 2011)
The extracurricular activities: Comments co-organizer Rob Segan, “Guatemala is an incredible place, from its culture to the amount you are able to see and do in a few days. It was great to take travel there alongside people with whom you have so much in common, but often have only had the chance to know in the context of a classroom. We saw this not only as a chance to help out the clinic, but also to have an adventure together as a cohort.”
Adds co-organizer Kim Vo (MS·MBA, Health Sector Management, 2011), “This was a unique opportunity for our cohort to get to know each other outside the classroom and strengthen our bonds while helping Primeros Pasos. In addition to volunteering, we climbed an active volcano, ziplined through the rainforest, took salsa lessons, soaked in hot springs, and kayaked in lake Panajachel, all while taking in Guatemalan culture. This is an experience I’ll never forget.”
The video: Watch the BU Global Service group in action in Guatemala here:
(Video by JB Buensuceso)
Providing critical support to local nonprofits for the 10th year in a row
- Provide resource strapped nonprofits with the human and intellectual capital necessary to overcome organizational hurdles that have hindered each nonprofit’s essential mission from making maximum impact;
- Provide an opportunity for future business leaders to be exposed to the work and mission of the nonprofit community;
- Create an enduring spirit of partnership.
–Link Day 2010 Nonprofit Participant
On February 20, 2010, 60 Boston University MBA students gathered for a one-day consulting event that partnered local nonprofits with MBA student teams to collectively overcome significant organizational challenges.
Nine first-year MBA students organized this annual event in conjunction with BU’s Public and Nonprofit Management Club. The student teams participating were a conglomeration of first and second years, as well as full and part-time students with varied backgrounds in finance, marketing, strategy, technology, and public and nonprofit management.
In 2010, fifteen nonprofits participated in Link Day, yielding almost $50,000 in consulting services. The size, scope, and mission of the organizations varied greatly, ranging from local chapters of national organizations to exclusively local nonprofits. The full roster of organizations that participated and benefited from this year’s Link Day were:
- America SCORES
- Boston Alliance for Early Education
- Child Care Resource Center
- Concord Children’s Center
- Educational Development Group
- Elizabeth Peabody House
- Girl Scouts of Eastern Mass.
- Greater Boston Center for Healthy Communities
- Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell
- Home for Families
- LGBT Aging Project
- Marblehead Arts Association
- Mustard Seed Communities
- The Food Project
- Year Up
Before the event, each team visits its partner organization and works with the staff to identify and develop a project of appropriate scope. Then the teams design a viable, customized solution for the identified issue. On the day of the event, they work with the nonprofit representatives to create a strategy for its implementation. Capping off the day, each team presents its recommendations to the assembled participants and guests (students, alumni, and local business leaders).
Following the event, members of the planning committee follow up with the participating organizations to see how implementation of the business solutions are progressing, and to solicit feedback on the effectiveness of the program.
Link Day has a lasting and significant impact on both the nonprofit and student community. One nonprofit representative said, “Student team and advisor were excellent, patient, really listened to us and helped us unscramble our thoughts. They challenged us with good, tough questions, helped us think as a group and out of our comfort zone.”
Another nonprofit representative raved, “Link Day 2010 exceeded my expectations. The students are obviously intelligent and committed to improving our organization by participating. The group work sessions were very much a collaboration.”
–Molly Brown, Link Day 2010 Student Organizer, MBA Class of 2011
For many students, Link Day is their first encounter with the nonprofit community, helping them realize both the need that exists and the impact they can make through volunteering. One hundred percent of students who participated in Link Day reported that it was a valuable experience for them. One student attendee said, “It was great getting to work with an enthusiastic organization and a diverse group of students. It was also great to get real-world consulting experience.”
Another student shared, “It was very gratifying to see the enthusiastic responses our nonprofit had to our suggestions and to see a cohesive plan take shape.” When asked what he liked best about Link Day 2010, another student said, “The opportunity to spend all day focusing on a problem and provide a nonprofit with a different perspective, linking nonprofit with profit-thinking.”
Link Day, an important annual event at the School of Management, is the result of public and private partnerships, with underwriting for the 2010 activities provided by Citizens Bank, Liberty Mutual, State Street Corporation, The Perkins Foundation, and Boston University’s MBA Council. This support combined with facility and faculty support from Boston University led to 960 volunteer hours.
Watch a Link Day 2010 team in action
A global award recognizing a “commitment to social responsibility”
After winning the 2009 TeamMBA Award from the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) for a “commitment to promoting…social engagement,” Boston University has again been honored for “exemplifying a commitment to social responsibility through the actions of [its] students.”
This year, GMAC, an association of leading business schools around the world, has recognized Boston University with one of only six service awards, granted at a ceremony in June, 2010.
“The annual TeamMBA Award…recognizes schools that exemplify a commitment to social responsibility through the actions of their students and the school’s demonstrated support of these efforts.”
–The Graduate Management Admissions Council
Specifically, BU won the Service Award for Corporate and Social Responsibility, based on the School’s support of its annual, student-run event Link Day, organized with help from the School of Management’s Public Nonprofit Management Program. In 2010, this event aligned the business skills of 60 MBA students with the needs of 15 area nonprofits.
Last year, Boston University was the only school world-wide awarded GMAC’s overall institutional award for outstanding support of student involvement in social engagement “through school-led programs, services, institutional culture, and more.”
The School of Management’s receipt of these awards, along with the recent recognition of its Net Impact chapter’s top global status, highlight the growing international reputation of BU’s Public Nonprofit Management Program to attract, support, and help shape tomorrow’s leaders in social responsibility.
More about the foundation of BU’s Service Award for Corporate and Social Responsibility: Link Day 2010
One of Only Three Schools Across New England to Achieve Top Worldwide Status
Boston University’s Graduate School of Management (GSM) Net Impact chapter has achieved Gold status for 2010; it is one of only three graduate chapters across all of New England to receive this top designation, and one of only 16 in the world.
“Gold chapters are the most outstanding chapters in the Net Impact network. They are characterized by energetic members, dynamic leadership, and excellence in all that they do.”
-Net Impact Central
Net Impact is a global nonprofit, spread across six continents, that aims to “inspire, educate, and equip individuals to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world.”
Gold chapters, the organization explains “are the most outstanding chapters in the Net Impact network. They are characterized by energetic members, dynamic leadership, and excellence in all that they do. They also…actively give back to the network by sharing best practices, mentoring other chapters, and working with Net Impact Central to improve chapter offerings.
The GSM Net Impact chapter is run by a group of the School’s MBA students and is supported by faculty and the Public & Nonprofit Management Program. This year, they have been joined at the School of Management by a new undergraduate Net Impact chapter.
See the full list of Gold and Silver chapter designees from Net Impact.
Jeffery Swartz, Timberland President & CEO, discusses how he engages with the competition as a business leader working towards climate change. He reviews the challenges, the high level of accountability, and potential impact companies have on social change.
What is the role of business in the climate debate? Engage with Timberland on this topic at www.earthkeeper.com/voicesofchallenge.
Watch other videos about Timberland:
- What Timberland Is Doing to Reduce the Company’s Impact on Deforestation
- What is Timberland’s Product Nutrition Label?
- What Is the Government’s Role in Promoting Sustainability?
- How Does Timberland Differentiate Itself in the Sustainability Space?
- What Is Timberland’s Business Model?
- What Steps is the Industry Taking towards Sustainability?
- Why Do Quarterly CSR Reports?
- What is Green-Washing?
- Have Consumers Made a Change?
Team Completes Project for Praxair
In a directed field study, five MBA students from Boston University School of Management worked on a project for the company Praxair, Inc. to assess sustainability reports for compliance with the emerging Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards and to make recommendations for improving sustainability stakeholder engagement. Praxair is a $9B, Fortune 300 supplier of industrial gases based in Danbury, CT.
Praxair is the only industrial gas company to achieve a ranking in the 2009/10 world Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and one of only four chemical companies to achieve this ranking for seven consecutive years.
The student team consisted of 2nd years Susie Keane, Ashley Jablow, Lee Wong, Evan DaSilva and Gabriel Wuebben, who presented their final report to Praxair at the corporate headquarters in Danbury, CT last month. Paul McManus served as the faculty leader on the project whose faculty advisory committee included Jim Post, Jack McCarthy, Nitin Joglekar, and Kristin McCormack.
Professor Kristen McCormack, Faculty Director of the Public and Non-Profit Management Program, remarks on the crucial need for field work as part of the MBA student experience: “We build field work projects into many of our courses because it provides students the opportunity to use their newly honed business skills in a practical setting. The projects also benefit the companies, because the students bring a fresh perspective to entrenched business challenges.”
Along with Riva Krut, Director of Sustainability (and the project “client”) at Praxair, the audience included Corporate Environmental Counsel; SVPs of Sales, and Human Resources; Directors of Diversity, R&D, Corporate Communications, and Leadership Development, as well as several others.
One student, Ashley Jablow, remarked, “As a student of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, I’ve found that in-class learning is important but it can only take students so far. This project allowed me and my teammates to step outside of the classroom and consider a real-world case study of how sustainability can align with and add value to corporate strategy. Working with Praxair was an invaluable experience and one of the highlights of my MBA training.”
“A Climate of Change: Copenhagen and Beyond”
Clean energy expert Paul McManus, executive-in-residence and lecturer at the School of Management at Boston University, joined the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, blogging from, and then beyond, the event. McManus is director of International Programs for the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization (ITEC) and a steering-committee member of the Boston University Clean Energy and Environmental Sustainability Initiative (CEESI).
Latest Post–February 21, 2009: The New Business Agenda (2): The Need for New, True Pricing Paradigms
Check out his entire blog, ”A Climate of Change: Copenhagen and Beyond,” for his impressions and perspectives about the conference as a whole, as well its potential impact on global sustainability.
Forbes has published the following article on corporate social responsibility, written by Boston University School of Management’s CB Bhattacharya, professor of marketing and Everett W. Lord Distinguished Faculty Scholar. Bhattacharya is also currently E.ON Chair in Corporate Responsibility at the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin.
Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s All About Marketing
Corporate responsibility policies have been gaining increasing attention from senior executives as questions of sustainability and green agendas have come to permeate business the world over.
The financial crisis has only heightened this trend by forcing companies to clearly identify themselves as responsible and trustable. Yet executives commonly don’t understand the most effective ways to design and implement sustainability programs. Because of that they can’t fully capitalize on the potential corporate responsibility has for creating business value, and they are achieving little with it despite all their interest.
So far businesses have mostly focused on direct routes to getting business value from corporate responsibility. They have pursued easy-win strategies or activities with direct commercial benefits, such as measuring and reducing their corporate carbon footprints. Such activities undoubtedly bring some value to businesses and society, but they fall far short of the mark.
What we are slowly starting to see is a second wave of corporate responsibility behavior marked by a clearer focus on the total business value such policies can bring. To fully benefit from corporate responsibility, businesses must wake up to the fact that they need to take a more indirect route to creating value with it. They must start by seeing where and how key stakeholders react to a firm’s corporate responsibility initiatives.
In practical terms, this involves moving away from a top-down strategy determined by the board to a richer process of bottom-up co-creation with stakeholders. It means using focus groups and other marketing research techniques to understand the deeper psychological needs that corporate responsibility can answer for stakeholders, such as the self-esteem and pride that a consumer can draw from affiliating with a socially responsible company. With such knowledge companies can elicit and gauge the demands of their target audiences. They stand to learn a lot.
For example, recent research involving Procter & Gamble, General Mills, and Timberland revealed that many of their stakeholders had no idea of the companies’ corporate responsibility initiatives, or had a very limited understanding and didn’t find them personally relevant. Because of that, they often questioned the companies’ motivations for engaging in corporate responsibility activities.
Now those companies have been able to build stronger connections with their stakeholders by improving their communication to build active participation and engagement in their initiatives. Their shift to a stakeholder-centric approach has brought them observable improvements in corporate responsibility return, such as increased customer and employee loyalty.
Finding your corporate responsibility strategy by catering to stakeholders might sound cynical if you’re a purist who thinks only of some larger social good, but adopting that kind of more sophisticated strategy actually benefits all. The reality is that the external stakeholders you engage with will often prove to be your toughest critics, and they will insist on much richer and ambitious corporate responsibility programs of genuine social benefit.
Indeed, part of the challenge is to judge which of the ideas put forward by stakeholders are realizable, commercially viable, and valuable. At the same time, those external stakeholders give you an invaluable source of feedback about what actions can make customers and clients connect more favorably with a given brand. That in turn improves your company’s image and thus increases the business value of committing to corporate responsibility.
In moving to such a model, businesses must make internal changes to support the execution and evaluation of their initiatives. Companies are commonly criticized for not involving their boards enough in corporate responsibility. That is a fallacy. To the contrary, they are most often too top-down, generating ideas in the boardroom and passing them on to a sustainability or corporate responsibility department that often doesn’t act in concert with the strategy or marketing department. To effectively capitalize on the indirect route to corporate responsibility value, programs need to operate through more traditional and developed business functions.
In particular, they should involve the marketing team. Marketing always has the knowhow to conduct meaningful campaigns and measure return on investment. Moreover, involving marketing in consumer research and analysis enables that department to coordinate how a corporate responsibility program is presented to those it wishes to influence.
That creates a virtuous circle, giving marketing a useful tool, beyond its traditional mix of price and product, for differentiating the company and its products from the competition. Many businesses champion their credentials in the area of corporate responsibility, but few capitalize on effective implementation and measurement of it to strengthen their brand identities. As corporate responsibility becomes a bigger shaper of companies’ public images, ignoring the advantages of effective corporate responsibility marketing becomes an increasingly higher stakes gamble.
With the costs of ignoring corporate responsibility–or, worse, getting it wrong–steadily increasing, businesses need to find sophisticated ways to link social and business value at the individual, stakeholder level. Too often corporate responsibility is looked at and discussed broadly, relying on sweeping aggregate-level research and analysis to gauge its effectiveness and method of execution. Consultancies and business educators have been guilty of promoting that approach. Now is the time for business leaders and those who seek to influence them to step up and put aside macro-focused thinking for the deeper, more thoughtful insight they need. Now is the time for companies to realign both internally and with their outside audiences to unite social good with hard-nosed commercial value.
C. B. Bhattacharya is the E.ON chair in corporate responsibility at the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin. He is on leave from Boston University, where he is the Everett W. Lord Distinguished Scholar and professor of marketing at the School of Management.
From the article “Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s All About Marketing,” by CB Bhattacharya, Forbes, November 20, 2009.
School Ranks 37th in U.S. for Social and Environmental Stewardship
The Aspen Institute places Boston University School of Management #37 nationally and #52 globally for MBA programs that “lead the way in integrating issues of social and environmental stewardship into their curricula and scholarly research.”
This biennial ranking, published in their report “Aspen’s Global 100: Beyond Grey Pinstripes,” also recognizes schools that prepare the MBA graduates best equipped for “success in a competitive and fast changing global economy.”
“Aspen’s Global 100” focuses specifically on four areas:
- Relevant courses
- Student exposure
- For-profit impact
- Faculty research
The School ranked particularly high in the for-profit impact category (14th internationally), illustrating the degree to which Boston University School of Management encourages students to change business values and practices across the board, and not only within specialized industries.