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ACFPI History

 


In the past, what we know now as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) began, as what we then used to call, “good corporate citizenship.”  This practice of good corporate citizenship began as compliance with the existing local laws governing business practices and employment.  US companies in the Philippines made sure that they paid the correct amount of taxes, gave relatively higher salaries and benefits to their employees, provided more employee training and development, follow good and safe manufacturing practices, and supported local suppliers.


After the EDSA revolution, some elements of society, demanded to know more about the operations of multinational companies.  They accused US companies as carpet baggers which unfortunately seem to still be harbored by a certain senator today.  A group of people in the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AMCHAM) met and formed a small committee to address this concern.  They sent our survey to all US companies operating in the Philippines and put together the information on how positively US companies affect the local economy.  It was a good piece of information that sent out a good message.  And to this day AMCHAM continues to put together that piece of information and continues to send out the message that we are here to make a contribution to local society.


In the course of putting together the information on the economic impact of US companies in the Philippines, the small group of people in AMCHAM found that some US companies were doing other things other than being good corporate citizens.  Some US Companies were helping out in their neighborhood when disaster strikes and doing some small things here and there in their communities.  This small group of people thought that it might be a good idea to put together an AMCHAM Foundation that could organize these smaller activities into one and as a result create a bigger impact.  Thus, the American Chamber Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. found on December 6, 1985 with Bill Applegate as its first president and Angela Latonio as the first Executive Director .


AMERICAN CHAMBER FOUNDATION PHILIPPINES, INC.

Presidents

Executive Directors

William Applegate -1992-1994
Wilcon Consultants

Angela Latonio-Backstrom – 1991-1998

Demetrio P. Salipsip, Jr. - 1995-1997
Dow Chemical

Richard C. Dow - 1998-2000    
Bechtel Overseas Corp.

Ma. Luisa Pizzaro - 1998-2001

Gregg P. Marshall - 2001-2003 AT&T/Lucent

Hilda Cleofe - 2001-2005

Patrick McAllister - 2004-2005        
San Roque Power

Edwin D. Feist – 2006 - present     
Abbot Laboratories

Nadia Carlos - 2005 - 2007                
Demetrio P. Salipsip - 2007 - present


At that time, the programs of the AMCHAM Foundation were mostly philanthropic in nature.   But in a country that was still trapped in a feudal structure it was considered good.   The activities of the AMCHAM Foundation were generally on putting together the resources of the US businesses and focusing them on particular or social issues to make a bigger impact in the community like:

  1. Providing some relief to victims of disasters like typhoon, flooding, earthquake or volcano eruption.  When disaster AMCHAM member companies were very generous in giving donations in cash and in kind
  2. Providing occasional medical and dental care to some depressed areas where the residents could not afford to pay doctors or dentists fees
  3. Providing books donated from the US to school children in some schools that have very limited resources and where a book is shared among many students.


As business grew over the years, the tension between business and society also grew.  Non government organizations (NGOs) began to form to monitor the activities of multinational companies.  In the Philippines some CSR related laws (Board of Investments policy on obligatory CSR as based on Article 2) were formulated to encouraged companies registered under the 2007 Investment Priorities Plan to do CSR programs.  And the power of media to project social issues bedeviling the world may have also encouraged some companies to budget for activities that will demonstrate ethical values, environmental stewardship, and enhance its corporate image.  Good corporate citizenship began to take on a new meaning – it began to be called corporate social responsibility (CSR).


The CSR activities of many companies then began to take on the form of defensive measures from adverse negative publicity.   Companies began to institutionalize its community involvement by anticipating the social consequences of its primary activities and proactively controlling its waste and air emission to avoid environmental pollution, by managing its energy and water usage to ensure sustainability, and by ensuring truth in their advertising in order to guide customers in the proper use of their products.  As a result, when companies where asked how much their budget for CSR was, their reply was always:  “We do not have a separate budget for CSR.  It is part and parcel of our operation.”


As an added measure companies began to get involved in local universities to develop the local science and technology capability of young graduates, engaged in livelihood programs to help augment the meager salaries of some people in the community, medical missions to improve the health of certain groups of people and other programs that supported the community.  Programs became individualized and were designed to project the name of the company itself and the objective is to gain goodwill for the company.


The American Chamber Foundation at this stage began to partner with some of its member companies

  1. Mr. Leonard Benjamin was a successful American businessman.  He wasgetting on in years and he wanted to ensure that some of the community work that he does lives on even after his death.  He approached the AMCHAM Foundation and bequeathed a small part of his wealth to the foundation so the foundation can continue to take care of the street children he had been working with to develop them to become independent and productive citizens.
    Part of the money that he gave the foundation went into buying the Leonard Benjamin Center where all the street children under his program could meet and socialize with each other.  This center also houses the medical and dental clinic and a small library for the scholars.
  2. GE employees and the AMCHAM foundation worked together on projects painting and repairing buildings especially in Boys Town
  3. With the help of the USAID, PAGA & the AAP together with the AMCHAM foundation helped some “Amerasians” in the Philippines to look for jobs.
  4. With the help of several generous AMCHAM member “patrons” the AMCHAM foundation also launched its own scholarship program for the needy but deserving students

  5. The AMCHAM foundation also began to manage the scholarship programs of a member company S.C. Johnson and a scholarship program by a member in memory of his father (Col. Salipsip Scholars)
  6. Microsoft, Chevron, Mirant, Quezon Power, GE and other companies donated cash and computers to help the AMCHAM Foundation promote computer literacy amongst its scholars and amongst the children in Boys Town.
  7. The other partnerships of the AMCHAM Foundations were the following:
    • Farmer and community assistance program of Philip Morris
    • PEP English proficiency training,
    • FAD reproductive health programs
    • FCED special education program (SPED) for slow learners.


To publicize the CSR activities of member companies we began to publish books entitled “Friends in Deeds.” When?  This book is a compilation of the stories of companies engaged in community activities and the people that they have helped.


Now, because of globalization and the resulting increased in competition companies plus the demand for transparency and increased accountability many US companies had become more strategic in their community activities.   They now try to address social and environmental issues by using market incentives.  This effectively aligns their CSR work with their corporate strategies.


Others have already move away from just the “feel good” activities to activities that demonstrate shared values by addressing not only the competitive context of their environment and but by also incorporating into their corporate strategy their CSR activities into .  Some examples are car companies designing vehicles that do not pollute the environment, banks that provide micro financing for the poor; credit card companies that support cultural activities, etc.  These are CSR activities that support and align with their corporate strategies.


Whilst the AMCHAN Foundation continues to administer its existing programs it has begun to examine its role in this new and changing environment.


In 2005, Ms. Hilda Cleofe, former Executive Director of AmCham Foundation conducted a study on the roles of AmCham Foundation in the promotion of CSR among members of AmCham.


Her study identified the main role of AmCham Foundation as the Enabler in engaging companies to set up or strengthen their CSR initiatives by:

  1. Providing the means and opportunities for the companies to implement CSR as part of their core business strategies
  2. Providing technical assistance to companies who are not yet implementing CSR initiatives but have recognized the relevance of CSR
  3. Assisting in strengthening CSR programs of companies through benchmarking and referral to other organizations who are experts in specific CSR programs

AmCham Foundation can also serves as the bridge in fostering partnerships between AmCham members and NGOs by:

  1. Assisting companies in identifying partners and beneficiary organizations
  2. Validating the credibility of NGOs seeking assistance from companies
  3. Matching the needs of NGOs with the companies’ resources


Finally, AmCham Foundation can promote the CSR activities of AmCham members through research, publications and events.


Thus, given these new roles of AmCham Foundation,it started implementing the following activities since 2007:

  1. Hold a regular CSR Forum for member companies in order to be able to feature the work of selected member companies and exchange ideas.
  2. In 2007, a CSR Excellence Award was initiated to recognize companies who had done well in the Philippines and who had done “good” in their community.  The award is divided into the following categories
    1. Education (schools, students, teachers, books, classrooms, etc.)
    2. Health (population, demography, disease, drugs, etc.)
    3. Environment/Habitat (infrastructure, land degradation, pollution, waste, climate, transportation, housing, etc.)
    4. Livelihood/Social Issues (unemployment, family, poverty, corruption, gender inequality, etc.)
  3. We have started the “25 for 65” scholarship program that allows individuals tosponsor a scholar for the year.  With a minimum of twenty five thousand pesos (P25,000), one scholar’s goal to fulfill an educational year is met
  4. In place of the book “Friends in Deeds”  we now have a publication appropriately titled “Beyond Profit” that features best CSR Practices of 30 AmCham member companies
  5. We of course continue to provide the occasion for member companies and donors to get together in the two golf tournaments where we raise more funds for scholarship every year.
  6. And we round off the year with the Thanksgiving Ball every November to honor our member companies who cares not only the business but who also cares for the community in which they find themselves.


Times are changing and we are changing with it.  But our goal is to continue to establish a strong partnership with AMCHAM members in working out together our evolving work in CSR.