About the Author: Deborah A. McCarthy serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Finance and Development for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs.
What comes to mind when you think of "Business in 2010?" Perhaps the weak economy? Maybe the bank bailouts from 2008-2009? How about "improving lives at home and abroad?" Today, we are presenting three U.S. companies with the Secretary of State's Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE). This prestigious award shines a spotlight on companies that work hard to advance best practices, democratic values, and good corporate governance at home and abroad. Our companies play an important role in fueling the engine of global growth and in spreading the message that democracy, good governance, free enterprise, and market-based economies are the way toward prosperity, security, and hope.
This year is exceptional, because we are honoring not one, but three companies with the ACE Award -- two large and one small -- for their demonstrated integrity and ingenuity. The three winners are Denimatrix of Lubbock, Texas; Mars, Inc., of McLean, Virginia; and Cisco Systems of San Jose, California.
Denimatrix's work in Guatemala is a prime example of a company that cares about more than just the bottom line. The company supports free medical clinics and treatment, as well as subsidized medical costs for its employees. These clinics provide many employees with their sole source of medical treatment. Denimatrix also offers technical and academic training to the homeless and reaches out to help disadvantaged youth. Finally, Denimatrix cares about the environment: Denimatrix has constructed a water treatment system that allows the company to reuse much of its wastewater, has reduced its carbon emissions, increased its recycling, and uses eco-friendly lighting.
Mars, Inc., operates in Ghana to improve farming methods, sensitize communities against child labor, and promote the overall well-being and sustainability of cocoa-growing communities. The company's involvement in the Sustainable Tree Crops Program has brought cocoa companies and USAID together to support farmer training and sustainability. Mars has also conducted community-level outreach in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire to reduce child labor, and it has succeeded in moving the issue of child labor and worker safety to the forefront of all those involved in the cocoa value chain.
Cisco won the ACE Award for its efforts to build a sustainable model of job creation and economic development, and to enhance the technical capacity, connectivity, education, and opportunities for women and youth in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Cisco invested $10 million to establish a sustainable model of job creation and economic development in the Palestinian Territories, a model that includes engineering projects, venture capital investments, and information and communication technology skills training programs. Cisco has also committed substantial financial and human resources to strengthening the Palestinian economy.
We at the State Department care about how U.S. businesses act both at home and overseas. It is in all of our interests to encourage companies to invest in the communities where they operate. In fact, businesses can do so much more than sell goods and services. They can bring the best of the United States to communities around the globe, and they can inspire others to make a difference.