Statement from Chairman of the Board Bruce MacLaury
The Hitachi Foundation was established in 1985 by a grant from Hitachi Ltd. with the broadest of purposes: 1) to benefit the American people; and 2) to help Hitachi's affiliate companies in North America be "good corporate citizens." These ambitious missions have taken on a variety of forms over the years, evolving both from conscious programmatic experimentation and from intensive five-year reviews.
The most recent strategic review, in 2008, set out to find ways in which the Foundation—with its limited resources—could better achieve its central purpose: to enable those on the margins of American society to gain a foothold and a stake in the American mainstream. This rethinking resulted in renewed emphasis on two themes that had been present—but less focused—in the Foundation's approaches in the past: 1) find and endorse businesses, large and small, that benefit their shareholders and their communities through innovative skill-building programs for their lower skilled employees; and 2) find partners—whether private sector, nonprofit, or government—that share the Foundation's goals and strategic emphasis on businesses' capacity to build social value, and make common cause with them.
These twin approaches cut across and bring new coherence to the Foundation's three signature programs: Business and Work; Hitachi Community Action Partnership, a collaboration with Hitachi's North American affiliates; and the Yoshiyama Program. It is the Board's belief that the whole can and will become more than the sum of these parts.
After much thought and debate, the Foundation's Board arrived at the following statement of its intent: The Hitachi Foundation is focused on discovering and expanding business practices that create tangible and enduring economic opportunities for low-wealth Americans, their families, and the communities in which they reside.
This statement is the North Star, so to speak, that guides both the financial and intellectual investment of the Foundation's resources.
Statement from President & CEO Barbara Dyer
The Hitachi Foundation's 2009-2013 Strategic Plan, dedicated to aligning our three programs—Business and Work, Hitachi Community Action Partnership, and the Yoshiyama Program—around the concept that business and society can and should form a well functioning ecosystem, is unveiled in the midst of our generation's greatest economic crisis. Indeed, it's reasonable to ask why, when businesses are in a struggle for survival and millions are out of work, is the Foundation focusing so intently on the role of business in society? Our answer is this: Business and Society: Discovering the New Social Compact for the 21st Century responds to the current, immediate crisis with long-term solutions. Other than in moments of significant disruption, when are we willing to consider alternative paths? This is precisely the time to forge partnerships between business and communities, employers and employees that can help relieve the pain today and keep us moving forward.
The Foundation's focus through 2013 is to discover and spread powerful yet practical approaches that illuminate the role of business as a partner in strengthening society. Our Business and Work Program starts by finding the business leaders who are leading the way—the ones succeeding at finding unexpected solutions to persistent, structural workforce challenges. They are proving that there are better ways to create value for their business, their employees, the community, and the larger society. The Hitachi Community Action Partnership is a living laboratory uncovering how businesses can excel as good neighbors and effective community partners. The Yoshiyama Program is being retooled, uncovering the same spirit of creative, entrepreneurial change that has infused the program for more than 20 years in emerging business enterprises that help ameliorate poverty.
Individually and together, our programs are identifying, learning, and spreading ideas that help businesses and communities incorporate new practices that generate better returns for society and the firm. That's one way change happens.