Corporate Social Responsibility: Young Enterprise
Someone asked me recently to give them an example of one of the most effective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)/community programmes that I have been involved with. Over the years there have been many, but the one that I am most proud of was the introduction of Young Enterprise to Malaysia. It was a while ago but it was a project I led for the Malaysian American Electronics Industry (MAEI) whilst I was with the communications consultancy Burson-Marsteller.
Young Enterprise (or Junior Achievement as it is known in the United States) is a scheme whereby young people learn about business and the world of work in the classroom under the guidance of volunteers from industry. In this case the volunteers all came from the management and graduate staff from the MAEI companies themselves.
It helps prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Students put these lessons into action by forming and running their own companies which make goods or provide services to the local community.
For the MAEI, Young Enterprise was a perfect fit because it very tangibly demonstrated the commitment of the companies to give something back to the community on which they relied for the many thousands of workers they needed for the production of electronic and computer components. At the same time, it offered the the youngsters the opportunity to learn more about the companies which could offer them very good employment opportunities in the future.
More and more organisations are realising the benefits of positioning themselves as good corporate citizens and taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on the communities on which they rely.