Social commitment as a business strategy

Social commitment as a business strategy

According to Hanna Hennig (CIO Siemens), no company can do without a social agenda if it wants to have good skilled workers. […]

“No company will find a good workforce if it does not offer corporate volunteering,” said Siemens CIO Hanna Hennig in her keynote speech at the Digital Social Summit. The market for skilled workers is still highly competitive. When talents join a company, they wanted to understand what it stands for and whether it is worth using their own manpower there. Social commitment and ethical guidelines to which an organization commits itself are a must.

According to Hennig, there were advances on the technical side years ago. For example, many companies have developed codes and process standards for artificial intelligence. Among other things, they said that AI must always be developed with social responsibility.

“At Siemens, for example, we have defined six principles in the ‘Data Charter’ to ensure that data is always handled responsibly,” reports the CIO.
In summary, they are:

  • Anyone who uses data must transparently tell the owner what it is being used for.
  • The owner controls the data.
  • Cybersecurity standards are used. To this end, Siemens launched the Charter of Trust in 2018, which now has 17 members. It was agreed how data should be used safely.
  • Each technology is developed in a co-creation approach with other companies.
  • Data will only be published anonymously.
  • Digital products are intended to create sustainable value.

In order to turn such initiatives into an overarching social digital agenda, a legal framework is needed. “Cooperation is important,” says Hennig. For example, the appointment of Zarah Bruhn as Commissioner for Social Innovation at the Ministry of Education is an important step. It is intended to link the sectors together and create a balance so that companies and politicians can jointly devote themselves to social innovations.

On the legislative side, Hennig sees above all issues such as data protection as well as fundamental and antitrust law. In order to control digital companies such as Meta in a uniform manner and to avoid monopolies, for example, a framework from the legislator is needed. In addition, however, every company must make a commitment to act socially. “Without this agenda, a company is not attractive today,” she says.

In order to draw the attention of talents to their own company, companies would have to actively promote their employees in their social commitment. Hennig sees two key points here: “Firstly, social responsibility must be part of the business strategy.” Secondly, it must be clear that social commitment takes time, but serves the company’s purpose. Therefore, the company should give its employees a few working days off for social commitment.

According to Hennig, Siemens encouraged employees to go to schools during the corona pandemic, for example, in order to receive further training in dealing with digital media. In addition, IT experts and tech-savvy colleagues from the departments work on a voluntary basis at some schools in order to bring STEM subjects closer to children.

Technologies such as low-code platforms can also support social engagement. Hennig reports that non-technical colleagues developed an app for THW in a hackathon using such a platform. This makes it possible to calculate how many sandbags have to be filled for the flooded areas in the event of a flood.

*Jens Dose is editor of the CIO magazine. In addition to the core topics around CIOs and their projects, he also deals with the role of the CISO and its area of responsibility.

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