Sarah Ford | April 24, 2014

Busy Professionals Find Time to be Global Humanitarians

By Vanessa Small

Adriana Ramirez’s black suitcase was neatly packed a week before her big, international trip. There’s no room for procrastination when you’re a mother of two young children going on a month-long business trip.

And this is no ordinary trip.

She is in Brazil assisting an organization that helps poor children with cancer get free medical treatment. Normally, the idea that she might be able to support a cause so far away would be nearly impossible. As a wife, mother and IBM manager overseeing billing and invoicing for federal contracts, she just simply wouldn’t have the time.

IBM knows this.

For the past six years, the company has been offering its employees a chance to have a Peace Corps-type experience on the company’s dime. It’s a type of corporate philanthropy that is increasingly hitting the sweet spot between companies looking to make better employees and busy working professionals seeking greater meaning in their professional and personal lives.

IBM’s Corporate Service Corps works as an international pro bono program where for four weeks, employees offer free consulting services to charities and municipalities in developing countries. Employees have helped a Nigerian province figure out the logistics of providing financial and health-care assistance to poor women and children. In Kenya, employees helped the government write aspects of its constitution that deal with the use of the Internet. A group also trained computer coders in Senegal with business skills.

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