Mr. Litow began by sharing his vision of corporate citizenship which he said, "describes a company's total dealings with the community, local, regional, national or global, encompassing traditional corporate philanthropy but going far, far beyond it." He continued, "a company's social responsibility is a critical component of a company's brand value and if properly planned and delivered, provides a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace. Solid corporate citizenship is of material benefit to the company - its shareholders, employees, customers and the community and is essential to business success."
Mr. Litow remarked that in order to "be effective as a business, it is vital that a company fully understand the global communities where its employees and customers reside and where it does business. This is true both of the local community and the international community. It is impossible to do this well without engaging and interacting comprehensively with your neighbor institutions, public, private, and voluntary through sustained civic activity."
He continued to share how IBM is working to engage employees at all levels in the organization to realize the firm's commitment to social responsibility. He also referenced studies pointing out that a company's reputation actually impacts its value in the market. He said: "Recent research has demonstrated that a large and growing percentage of a company's market value is comprised of so called intangible assets: reputation, brand equity, strategic positioning, alliances and knowledge. Interbrand says that 25% of the world's total financial wealth is tied up in these intangible assets."
A lively question and answer period with students, faculty and staff members ensued and the afternoon concluded with a reception in his honor.