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There is nearly a constant influx of new technological developments in this industry as well, which only makes the task of staying current with them all the more challenging. The intent of this paper is to describe how Blizzard would be able to structure a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program that would financially support programming courses for lower income children throughout inner cities and rural areas. The essence of a strong CSR program is that it enriches and provides a higher level of value and improves the quality of a person's life for the long-term. Those sponsoring CSR programs have also found reciprocal benefits from staying focused on their core strengths and working to translate associated skills into long-term value for those they seek to build up (Berens, van Riel, van Rekom, et.al.). The challenge then for creating any CSR program is to concentrate first on the skill sets to be provided, followed by defining from a logistics standpoint how they will be accomplished. The creating of value from any CSR program concentrates on measuring and evaluating the long-tern value gained by those the program is meant to serve (Berens, van Riel, van Rekom, 234-236).
Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics
The reliance on governed compliance in the form of Sarbanes-Oxley and other forms of government-mandated ethics are a cost drain on any organization. CSR
Programs on the other hand significantly change the level of ethical behavior in organizations by concentrating on providing value over time to those that cannot pay the company back, generating a higher level of altruism as a result (Cacioppe, Forster, Fox, 681, 683.) This has the accumulative effect of raising the entire level of ethical behavior and standards on an organization. Arguably the use of CSR programs to bring a higher level of ethical behavior and standards into a company has not been quantitatively measured or defined with a highly scientific Return on Investment (ROI) yet there are studies linking the ethical behavior of superiors to those of their subordinates, and the one critical factor in defining any person's level of ethics in an organization is the ethics of their superiors (McDonald, Pak, 1996).
CSR programs then are much more critical to any organization than simply generating good Public Relations or publicity; they are in fact one of the most critical aspects of a proactive approach to defining the ethical climate in an organization. The implications of strong CSR programs over time have direct ramifications on the ethics of an organization. One need only consider Cisco and their approach to CSR programs to see how effective they can be in not only setting the best possible tone for ethics yet also enriching the surrounding community as well. For Blizzard, the development of educational program to give inner city, suburban and rural children from low-income households the opportunity to learn programming skills must begin with a community-based focus first. Then from this community-based platform, the company can create learning programs and form a Blizzard University for these children and eventual college students to grow in programming skills and knowledge. As the fields of programming, specifically Web-based programming where standards for JAVA, AJAX, PERL, Python, the language Google is programmed in, are all changing rapidly, a technologically-based CSR program is in their self-interest as well. But even more fundamental than that, Blizzard can assist its managers and their subordinates to stay focused on ethics by stressing how important supporting a CSR program is. The research of McDonald, Pak (et.al.) show that to the extent a company has a series of initiatives that force managers and their subordinates to concentrate on ethical behavior, that the effect is cumulative and has a direct bearing on the ethical choices of subordinates. Besides helping to educate the next generation of programmers and potentially also benefiting from this investment, Blizzard is re-orienting their internal culture to be more focused on altruism and what can be done for others, and accumulatively this directly impacts the ability of managers to stay in compliance to ethical guidelines as well. CSRs are not only good for communities they are also great for keeping companies focused on the values of being ethical over time. One of the companies that Blizzard needs to model from their implementation of CSR programs is Cisco who has four strategic areas of CSR programs. They have their own Cisco University yet also fund programs in the San Francisco Bay area where they are located.
Modeling Cisco's CSR Programs and Initiatives
Cisco is considered to be one of the most ethically astute and well-run companies in the United States today, receiving many awards for their work on Social Responsibility Initiatives and Corporate Citizenship. Many academicians who study the link of corporate ethics and CSR programs point to the approach Cisco uses to manage its Corporate Citizenship as the overarching initiative to keep all CSR programs in synchronization with each other. For Blizzard, this is a pragmatic consideration; creating first a Corporate Citizenship strategy that includes support for the areas of educational outreach to low-income children, Blizzard University for high school and college-age students who want to also learn about game programming, and grants and subsidies for local nonprofit organizations who need their assistance. Taking this platform-based approach and modeling it after Cisco, Blizzard stands a very good change of sustaining its performance and results achieved on CSR initiatives for the long-term.
Cisco has a specific department just for its Corporate Citizenship Programs, which have won awards from all major cities in the Bay Area, including the economically disadvantaged areas of Oakland. Cisco Corporate Citizenship (2008) also has a report equal and scope and size as the entire corporations' annual report and details the company's major initiatives to the a world leader in the best practices of citizenship as a corporation globally. The company's code of conduct is 16 pages long and has grown as a result of the company's many mergers, acquisitions and moves into emerging markets, which are very successful according to the analysis completed earlier in this report. The fact that the ethics creed is on every employee badge at Cisco is a testament of how deeply CEO John Chambers believes in this strategy of continually reinforcing ethical behavior. Not a single executive at Cisco has been indicted on insider trading or any other ethical lapses -- a rare feat given the rampant behavior of Enron and others in the late 90s and throughout the early 21st century. Given the pervasive belief in doing well by doing good within the Cisco culture, Blizzard needs to work very hard to emulate these practices in defining their educational programs for low-income children and also for high school and college students.
Blizzard Needs To Supplant Education-Based CSR Programs
What Blizzard also must do as part of their education-based CSR strategy is to seek out nonprofit educational institutions that also require funding and assistance as Cisco does in the San Francisco Bay Area to funding technology-related teaching programs. Blizzard can do the same. Two of the critical building blocks of a corporate-wide CSR programs are defining the Blizzard Community and Philanthropy Program and the Blizzard Grants and Donations Program. Cisco has comparable programs in place for each of these strategies and has found it necessary from a purely administrative standpoint to have these two departments supporting their educational efforts as well. Both of these departments would also be given the reasonability of targeting which urban suburban and rural elementary schools to provide grants and financial aid to in the form of PCs, networks and programming courseware. Cisco has developed an entire application process by which elementary schools can apply for network started kits and advanced networking tutorials that, in conjunction with grants for the purchase of PCs and networking equipment, form the foundation for any school to be able to provide programming instruction and teaching. Blizzard needs to have these two departments, the Blizzard Community and Philanthropy Program and the Blizzard Grants and Donations Program, concentrate on creating a shared strategy for reaching out to schools who need their assistance the most and supporting them across both philanthropy and grants and donations. The focus on the former is geographically launching and then supporting the Blizzard programming educational support, and the latter, with continually funding the programs once they have been launched. Cisco has found that having an overarching CSR strategy that coordinates these two departments specifically gives them greater responsiveness to individual school and nonprofit organization requests. Creating this type of comparable structure is critical for Blizzard to launch and then sustain CSR programs with the goal of teaching programming techniques and new languages.
The Next Step: Creating Internship Opportunities
Taking another lesson learned from Cisco, Blizzard needs to also consider the progression of learning from fundamental concepts taught to elementary and middle school students to internships for high school and college-age students as well.…[continue]
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