That’s enough to frighten many
business leaders into funding educational programs, but there are
other motivators: Giving back to
the communities in which they
serve yields substantial returns in
terms of reputation, which plays an
increasingly important role in consumers’ buying decisions and workers’ employment decisions.
Education arguably is the most
important area for corporate philanthropic investment because of the
desire for a highly skilled work
force. Many businesses contend
that today’s schools do not provide
the highly skilled workers needed to
That’s why 15 national business
organizations led by the Business
Roundtable last year formed a coalition to support action to reverse this
backward slide. The 10-year goal of
the initiative, “Tapping America’s
Potential,” is to double the number
of bachelor’s degrees
awarded annually to
U.S. students in science, technology,
engineering and math.
include the U.S.
Commerce and the
Minority Business Roundtable,
argue that “fewer and fewer students are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and
mathematics, and American students are performing at levels far
below students in competitor
nations on international standardized tests in these subjects.”
Government obviously is the
primary force moving the country
toward or away from improved
public education. But because of
their keen awareness of changing
demographics and the increasing
flatness of the world, progressive
companies are realizing that without prepared employees of all races, ethnici-ties and socioeconomic backgrounds, they will be unable to compete globally and create innovative products and services.
That was the crux of Siemens Medical Solutions President and CEO
Thomas N. McCausland’s argument when he testified before the U.S.
Senate in April.
“If we do not have the next generation of scientists, mathematicians or
engineers, then who is going to develop the next life-saving cancer-therapy
equipment?” he asked the Committee on Commerce, Science, and
Transportation and Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation, and
Competitiveness. “Or ensure that we can meet the growing demand for
energy in this country with the most efficient and environmentally friendly
technology? Or provide enough clean drinking water for our families?”
During the past few years, Siemens, headquartered in Malvern, Pa., has
launched a series of programs aimed at increasing interest in science and
technology amongst the nation’s youth.
“We read so much about countries like India and China having more
and more students graduating from college and, very specifically from
Siemens’ point of view, [earning degrees] in math and science disciplines,”
McCausland tells DiversityInc.
“This is a high-tech world. For us to be able to be competitive and
“If, as a country, we want to maintain our edge on the
attract the talent we need, we need a bigger pool of educated kids coming
global arena, we have to do eveything we can to keep up
with the growing global demand for scientific minds. That
means giving back and supporting our future employees.”
Thomas N. McCausland, president and CEO, Siemens Medical Solutions
out of high school, going into college and working in the corporate world.”
Siemens recently created a program to increase interest in math, science
and engineering among fourth- and fifth-graders. As part of Siemens Science
Days, employees located in all 50 states visit schools in their communities to
show students what kind of work they do. Since the program’s inception in
spring 2005, Siemens employees have reached 5,000 students in 13 states.
To encourage students in middle school to pursue science careers, the
Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology awards about
$750,000 in scholarships annually to students, with the top student winning
a $100,000 college scholarship. Past winners include the inventor of a gyroscopic generator that uses the movement of ocean currents to generate electricity. The company also gives schools a $2,000 award for each project that
makes it to the regional finalist level, reflecting Siemens’ belief that it takes
dedicated teachers and supportive schools to create prepared students.
In 2005, Siemens also partnered with the United Negro College Fund
and the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund to award $1 million in schol-