Transforming the Lives of Women via IBM's Corporate Service Corps

By Gina Tesla, Director of Corporate Citizenship, IBM


 International Women's Day

On March 8th, we celebrated International Women's Day, a call to action and cause for celebration of women and women’s issues around the world. Be Bold for Change is this year's theme, but this could serve as a mantra for all of us looking to make an impact on our careers, our communities and our companies. I have been fortunate and proud to have a direct impact on women's lives through my leadership of IBM's Corporate Service Corps (CSC) program, which is committed to helping women and girls the worldwide, and I'm excited to announce our new commitment to women. For 2017, IBM is committed to dedicating 75% of our CSC teams to projects with women as the end beneficiary. 100% of our projects will promote gender equity in the host organizations assisted. This will be equivalent to $2.4 million in pro bono consulting. I'll be speaking at the Catalyst Awards Conference and Dinner where organizations will be honored for their roles in supporting women. I'm honored to be representing the CSC at this important event.


Making an Impact via Transformative Consulting

The CSC program couples IBM technology with our brightest minds to problem solve together with communities around the globe.  As we approach the 10 year anniversary of the CSC, we have many outcomes to celebrate across the triple benefit. Nearly 4,000 IBMers from 60 countries will have developed into leaders with unmatched global vision and passion for IBM. Communities in 38 countries will have benefited from over 1,300 transformational consulting projects. Dozens of clients have been inspired to develop their own CSC programs. Samples of past projects impacting women are:


·         In Peru, a CSC team worked with CerviCusco, a non-profit healthcare provider dedicated to preventing cervical cancer in indigenous women. Results of their work have helped CerviCusco reach 100,000 women while enabling it to become a center for research on cervical cancer, providing services to scientists and researchers in the field.

·         A CSC team in Thailand provided cloud hosting and rapid prototyping consulting to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to develop a mobile application that would help prevent the exploitation of domestic workers in Asia.

·         In Senegal, a CSC team worked with FDEA (Female Development Enterprise in Africa) to develop a strategic plan that would address optimizing business operations, finding new funding sources to diversify and increase their lending stream.


Personal Commitment

As a Johnson Graduate School of Management alumna, class of '04, I am committed to sharing my experience and supporting the school. As an executive in the IT sector, it's important to me to not only support the women I work with directly, but to be constantly thinking about how we can leverage the skills, capabilities and resources available to have an impact in the communities where we work.


Prior to the Johnson, I served as a United States Peace Corps volunteer in Panama, which permanently shaped my perspective of the world and has heavily influenced my career. One of my career highlights has been building a partnership between IBM and the Peace Corps that stems from our personal commitment and our shared goals as organizations. Our first team in this partnership focused on girls’ education, working with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative. Together, we supported a social enterprise called TECHAiDE, which uses technology to bring educational content to schools with limited or no access to the internet. You can learn more about the Corporate Service Corps / Peace Corps partnership work in Ghana in this video.


I'm excited for the commitment to women that we're making through the CSC program. The CSC is uniquely positioned to make a significant contribution to the spectrum of issues which impact a woman’s ability to fully contribute to society: economic development, education, health and safety. By carefully selecting organizations which are addressing the inhibitors to inclusion, and which are poised to absorb and act on comprehensive solutions, we will continue to open opportunities to women across the world.