In recent years, corporate social responsibility has become a catch phrase in a private sector eager to prove that business success and social gain need not be mutually exclusive.
But in order to create real and lasting impact, Ayala Corporation president and chief executive officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II believes that businesses must focus on addressing the root causes of social problems. Moreover, businesses must be able to sustain their social development programs and develop new strategies to meet new demands and changes in society.
“This emphasis on developing a commitment to national development and building trust in our community has been one of the hallmarks of Ayala’s success over the years. While we strive to create enduring value for our shareholders, we never lose sight of the interests of all the other stakeholders in our businesses and of the nation as a whole,” explains Zobel.
Contribution to nation-building
The Ayala Group welcomes President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s challenge to the private sector to improve the plight of under-served sectors, something the group has been doing for more than four decades. This commitment is expressed through programs that are focused on four main areas: education, youth, the environment, and arts and culture.
Says Zobel: “More and more we are finding that it is important to support projects that the business can relate to, either because they affect a market of that business or because the company is in a position to offer solutions to the problem.”
The group believes that the basic educational system plays a critical role in the country’s progress, a principle that finds fruition in the Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education. Centex provides bright children from needy families with top-quality education through an enhanced curriculum, supplemental feeding and family support and counseling. Other education-oriented programs have been developed to provide access to information technology, scholarships and awards for academic excellence.
The focus on the youth sector is also founded on the belief that the country’s future lies in the hands of good leaders. To address the need for principled leadership, the Ayala Young Leaders Congress brings together potential leaders from among today’s youth and encourages them to make a difference in their communities. The Bank of the Philippine Islands and Globe Telecom offers annual awards that recognize academic excellence in science and information and communications technology. These programs nurture in the youth the desire and capability to lead the country in progress.
Still another way that the Ayala Group is contributing to the country’s development is by addressing its many environmental concerns. Ayala Land Inc.’s solid waste management program has effectively reduced pollution in its residential, commercial and industrial projects. Manila Water Company’s Tubig Para Sa Barangay Project is providing clean, potable water to meet the needs of Metro Manila’s urban poor. Ayala companies are giving financial support and promoting awareness of environmental issues so that future generations can continue to tap the country’s rich natural resources.
In arts and culture, the Ayala Group created the Ayala Museum and the Filipinas Heritage Library as repositories of the country’s national heritage. Located in the heart of Makati’s central business district, these institutions are bringing Filipino art and history closer to the public.
The Ayala Group is able to continue these social responsibility programs even in times of economic uncertainty by providing resources, technical services and volunteer time of its employees and officers.
For instance, Ayala Corporation, Globe Telecom, Ayala Land, and BPI put together their resources and expertise for projects such as the UP Ayala Technopark, Youth Tech, Center for Technical Training and Excellence, Ayala Intel Computer Clubhouse, and the Integrated Learning Kiosk.
Corporate citizenship is also encouraged at all levels of the organization. New hires are invited to imbibe core values which put a premium on concern for others and commitment to national development. Thousands of employees from companies such as Ayala Corporation, Ayala Land, Globe Telecom, BPI, Manila Water, and Integrated Microelectronics Inc. have repeatedly participated in Habitat for Humanity, Children’s Hour, NAMFREL, and the La Mesa Reforestation Project, programs that have been selected for their sustainability and long term impact to society.
This spirit of volunteerism has led to the creation of the Ayala Volunteers Program for employees looking for opportunities to help others as well as the Ayala Business Club which leads Ayala companies in identifying the needs of their host communities and developing programs that respond to these needs.
While these programs have succeeded in making an impact on the lives of many Filipinos, the Ayala Group continues to look for new ways to address the needs of under-served sectors in society.
The Ayala Volunteers Program will soon get the involvement of business and non-business partners, customers, beneficiaries, and the general public in social development projects identified by the Ayala Group.
Ayala Foundation Inc. has also ventured into tapping Filipinos abroad who wish to help their countrymen by establishing Ayala Foundation USA (AFI-USA). AFI-USA will serve as a conduit for funds from migrant Filipinos for projects that will be funded in the country. Meanwhile, the Filipinas Heritage Library continues to develop various culture-oriented websites that link the academe, art community, and Filipinos all over the world. A bigger, world-class Ayala Museum is set to reinvigorate the local art scene as well as the business district when it opens in 2004.
Corporate social responsibility is always a long-term social commitment but Zobel believes the Ayala Group’s success can become an example for others. He is optimistic that more companies will take up the challenge to alleviate poverty and bring progress to all Filipinos.
Notes Zobel: “Our vision is that all companies should look at themselves as productive members of the community and of society. We should continue to build trust across a wide spectrum of publics by trying to keep the interests of the broader community in mind as we make decisions. We strongly believe in the value of good corporate citizenship and try to become a catalyst for social change in any way we can.”