I’ve often discussed the importance of charitable donations to our society. And while it’s important for each and every one of us to give back to our communities, I believe that it is equally important for large, high-profile companies to donate their time and resources to philanthropy, in order to set a good example. When we see Fortune 500 companies with vast amounts of wealth and connections taking the time to help the local, or global, community, it renews our sense of hope in big business. It helps dispel the stereotype of the evil mega-corporation that Hollywood and the media so persistently depict.
One company that seems to be taking a unique approach to philanthropy is IBM.
Founded in 1911 as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, IBM was later renamed in 1924, and since then, the technology company has seen tremendous success and is well-known for its multiple technological innovations. Separate from its remarkable track-record of contributions to the tech industry, one of IBM’s most respectable and defining characteristics is how it tackles philanthropy.
According to a report from Fast Company, in August 2016, IBM offered a resource far more precious than money to assist in the fight against cancer in sub-Saharan Africa: its employees. That’s right, when most large companies would simply donate a large amount of money to a cancer research center, IBM took a more thoughtful approach and instead decided to send some of its brightest thinkers and problem solvers to work with the American Cancer Society (ACS) in order to work out an issue to a major problem.
In sub-Saharan Africa, an alarmingly low number of cancer patients are treated with chemotherapy, and so, IBM sought to offer a solution by creating the IBM Health Corps. What makes the program even more remarkable is that the employees involved are paid by IBM for their time, and work pro bono for whatever organization they are working with. These employees are, in essence, being paid to stop their day-to-day duties at IBM and work on a solution for getting chemotherapy to millions of sub-Saharan Africans.
This has to be one of the most innovative, outstanding and downright impressive philanthropic initiatives from any Fortune 500 company in the world. To send over several of the world’s brightest and best problem solvers to work on solving one of the world’s most challenging problems is genius and deserves all of the attention that it garners. More companies need to take a page out of IBM’s philanthropy book and invent even more creative solutions to the world’s largest issues.