Enhancing business internships: Focus –’Do good, or we’ll walk’ (Part 1)


ENHANCING internships of future business enterprise constituents and decision-makers is academe-business partnership’s investment to improving human life for all. Literature I came across this month reiterate an emerging 21st century paradigm of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Business leaders continue to clarify to themselves what exactly their investors perceive of CSR, also termed as Corporate Social Initiatives (CSI) or Corporate Social Values (CSV). CSR has long been understood as a philanthropic gesture of business alongside its primal remit to keep a healthy ROI. The web offers varied definitions of today’s CSR, which commonly includes a company’s social and environmental stewardship. Investors tend to assess the extent to which a company takes responsibility for the company’s effects on environmental and social well-being. <www.investopedia.com/terms/c/corp-social-responsibility.asp> Referred to also as an expression of a company’s “citizenship,” CSR initiatives focus on the company’s waste and pollution reduction, contribution to educational and social programs, while at the same time, earning adequate returns on the employed resources. <dictionary.com/definition/corporate-social-responsibility.html>

Changing perspectives on CSR. Much has been written about this change in journal articles, world and inter-regional reports, blogs, forums and conferences. “Governments, civil society, business — all to some extent” see CSR “as a bridge connecting the arenas of business and development and increasingly discuss CSR programs in terms of their contributions to development” in marginalized societies, such as “combatting HIV/AIDS, reducing poverty and building human capital.” Our source says “current CSR approaches do not warrant such claims.” <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2346.2005.00465.x/full>Questions have been raised “whether business and development are happy bedfellows.”

Impact investing. A term perceived to be a changing paradigm for CSR has been introduced by two of the foremost experts in the field of impact investing—Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin and Margot Brandenburg. They explain what impact investing is in their co-authorship of “The Power of Impact Investing: Putting Markets to Work for Profit and Global Good” (cf. amazon.com for the Paperback issue released May 06, 2014). CSR is compared with “philanthropy and traditional investments, where opportunities are evolving around the world, and how to get started. Fortune Magazine’s issue of September last year also carried an article by Rodin “The End of ‘Short-Termism’” which stressed that “For generations, shareholders have warned corporate managers not to let social responsibility eat into their profits. But a growing cohort of investors is sending a new message: Do good, or we’ll walk.” The said book offers examples of this evolving purpose of CSR and its impact on investors.

As Rodin explains in her article, impact investing is investment that “is intended to generate both financial return and social or environmental impact.” This means that decisions of business to involve itself in business do not rest solely on the promise of profit, but on whether such involvement will do no harm, nor further harm to human life. The middle 1990’s had early forms of impact investing such as Tridos Investment Management with headquarters in the Netherlands with its interest to foster organic farming, renewable energy, healthcare etc. An example Rodin cites is that of the Norwegian Global Pension Fund, “the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund,” which “recently made the values-driven decision to no longer invest in companies that depend on coal for more than 30% of their energy needs.” (Fortune, September 2015,p. 27) The same issue of Fortune magazine lists “Nike, Cisco, Mastercard, Sabmiller, Vodafone, Google and 45 other companies that are Doing Well by Doing Good,” in an equally informative write-up by Alan Murray. (Fortune, September, 2015, pp 19-35)

Values education during course work. What dimension in course work instruction contributes vitality of internships? Aside from what we know about internship as a mediating tool between theory and practice, that academic internships provide an appropriated “opportunity to integrate work-related experience into graduate education by participating in scheduled and supervised work” (Gault et al. 2010), that “provide students with the opportunity to develop not only work skills but also an understanding of the workplace,” <https://business.illinois.edu/bcs/wp…/Launching-Enhancing-Internship-Program.pdf> the values component in business entrepreneurship should be introduced in course work and concretized during internship.

Quite often, reference to values, that should pervade all courses in a specialization area, is left out; all focus is on the conceptual and technical skills. Management institutes realizing the importance of social relationship or people skills, have embedded social values in education and training, realizing that people are not all born in friendly environments. Cases help trainees understand that a sound working climate rests on respecting another person’s opinion and being able to discuss differences in a civilized manner. Such social skills are anchored on values equally critical to policies and practices affirmed by organizational leaders.

Values development and global fluency in general education round up preparedness of business students for 21st century enterprise leadership. This education paves interns’ meaningful appreciation of a business enterprise’s social-oriented programs such as those on food security, environment (climate change/global warming, air pollution and oil leaks); malnutrition, etc. Retrospection on their course work helps interns derive meaningful lessons from the concrete reality of impact investing— as an emerging paradigm of CSR — business that is “doing well by doing good.” Compassion, respect for life, love for peace, sensitivity to a group’s culture, altruism, fitness of purpose, and the rule of law — like other values, these values are not taught but caught. This is how internship on 21st century CSR could help provide interns meaningful experience of these values in action. (Next issue – emerging derivatives of CSR in the Philippines.)

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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies included not only education and pedagogy but also literature, general science and history. She studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Great Britain and Japan. She headed chartered institutions, was vice-president for academics and for external relations and internationalization. She is copy editor of the Liceo journals, an internationalization consultant and professorial lecturer on-call and at the Graduate Studies of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro City). She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the central office of the Commission on Higher Education.


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