Exploring Corporate Social Responsibility with the UNA-SNY Young Professionals Sustainability and Economic Development Committee (YP-SEDC)
By Joanna Blaz
Placing social issues as a priority in the workplace is not an easy task. But can proximity to the world’s largest humanitarian organization offer some inspiration? With the United Nations right in their backyard, New York City corporations and organizations are taking advantage and applying their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts on a larger scale.
Nielsen, a global independent measurement and data company with operations in New York City, has partnered with the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) as an opportunity to use its data and expertise for social good.
In 2015, a team of Nielsen data scientists volunteered their skills to help WFP revolutionize its mobile data collection process. This pro bono project enabled WFP to survey people in remote areas and gather data on their needs during times of crisis when sending workers into the field would be too dangerous, including during the Ebola epidemic.
For their project with WFP, Nielsen used interactive voice response surveys and text messaging to collect information about food needs in key locations, using this data to support WFP’s hunger relief efforts. Because WFP traditionally conducted its interviews face-to-face, the project’s innovations resulted in a 50% cost savings and an 83% time savings for WFP, reducing the average 4-6 week timeframe to complete a survey to less than a week.
Thinking globally is catching on in academia as well. The School of Business at Medgar Evers College, a CUNY campus in Brooklyn, sent students around the world in the name of CSR.
In June, Medgar students traveled to the Dominican Republic as part of the Young Americas Business Trust, an annual business pitch competition. Next month, another group of entrepreneurs is heading to Kenya. Dean Jo-Anne Rolle, Ph.D., said these trips allow students to see how different countries handle business.
“Having access to other cultures really provides strong solutions,” Rolle said.
Diversity dominates at Medgar. The college hosted a CSR conference in June titled “Exploring Corporate Social Responsibility with the Global Community.” Rolle co-authored a paper of the same name that she will present at the International Academic Conference in Paris next month.
Despite the international success, Rolle credits the local community with the success of Medgar’s CSR efforts. “We are a college that grew up out of the community.”
Community plays a large role in the UN Global Compact, which urges corporations to use their power for good on global issues such as human rights and conserving the environment. The Compact offers standards on what makes a company sustainable and holds companies accountable for their CSR efforts.
More than 8,000 companies from Denmark to Brazil have shown their support for the Compact, citing progress on human rights policies or statements from a Compact-supportive CEO.
Last month’s UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in NYC covered timely topics such as how the SDGs are providing business opportunities.
But the CSR discussion is just beginning. Andrea Bertels (CSR Manager, Nielsen), Jo-Anne Rolle, Ph.D., (Dean, Medgar Evers College) and Alexandra Tarazi (Relationship and Local Network Manager, UN Global Compact) will speak on the UNA Sustainability and Economic Development Committee’s panel discussion “At the Intersection of Business and Development” on Thursday, July 21 at 6:30 at Colors Restaurant in Manhattan.
Find details and tickets here.