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Healthy Communities Are Good for Business
It was particularly fitting that the conference was held in New Orleans, where Shell and Motiva played a significant role in rebuilding the city following Hurricane Katrina.
Creating healthy communities is good for business. That’s the key motivator behind Shell’s 50-year history of social investment, Bob Pease, president and CEO of Motiva, told attendees during a CEO Roundtable at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in New Orleans, June 7.
Pease joined three other executives in discussing the importance of building a resilient community that can adapt, survive and grow in the face of turbulent times. The panel discussion was moderated by Deborah Roberts, ABC News 20/20 correspondent.
Others on the panel included Cliff Burrows, president of Starbucks Coffee U.S., Chas Edelstein, co-CEO and director of the Apollo Group and Rob West, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Entergy Corporation. Panelists shared how their companies are leveraging and applying their assets to solve some of the country’s most difficult societal problems.
Pease told the audience that Shell and Motiva have become more focused in its social investment, looking to support programs that align with its business objectives and that have measureable community impact. “Some examples of this include our support of education initiatives that encourage young students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and environmental programs that restore and protect endangered wetlands,” he said.
Calling it a valuable learning experience, Pease said, “In the past, our first response was to write a check to agencies involved in disaster recovery. But Hurricane Katrina taught us that we need to be there long after the crisis is over. Sometimes, as in the case of Katrina, the recovery is slow and can take as long as three to five years.”
Pease cited Shell and Motiva’s support of an initiative to revitalize the Katrina-ravaged Broadmoor neighborhood in New Orleans as an example of how the company partners with local communities, governments and institutions to make a significant impact on societal issues. “Today, the neighborhood is vibrant, with an engaged population helping to make decisions regarding its future.”
He noted that lessons learned during Katrina have helped the company become a more effective community partner. “We better understand the value of developing relationships with state and local responders and community agencies, so that when a disaster does hit, we can do our part to help in the immediate and long-term recovery,” Pease said. “We know that we can leverage our outreach by involving our employees in community initiatives. We’ve seen the value of partnerships in getting things accomplished,” he added.
An active community volunteer himself, Pease said the opportunity to participate in the CEO Roundtable gave Shell and Motiva the chance to tell its story about its social investment goals and activities. Shell and Motiva sponsored the national conference, which was attended by more than 4,500 individuals representing nonprofits, corporations, faith-based organizations and government. “The conference gives us an opportunity to engage on a lot of levels. We can deliver our message and be seen by our customers and potential employees for who we are and what’s important to us.”