Focus, Manufacturing, and Sustainability

Amway’s One by One campaign transforms CSR efforts

October 25, 2013
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Amway's One by ONe campaign transforms CSR efforts
Amit Chandra discusses research and development projects with students from Grand Rapids Public Schools during one of Amway’s job-shadowing events. Courtesy Amway

The release of Amway’s 2012 Corporate Social Responsibility Report earlier this year included a big announcement: The company has reached 10 million children through its One by One Campaign for Children, which has been building momentum since it launched in 2003.

Jesse Hertstein, Amway CSR senior specialist, said Amway’s CSR efforts fall under one of three categories: performance, products and people. The One by One campaign is in the “people” category.

“In short, ‘people’ is about mobilizing Amway people to do good in their communities,” he said.

Prior to 2003, Amway employees and business owners were doing charitable work around the globe, but efforts were scattered and it was difficult to gauge their impact.

“We really weren’t showing that we were making a real difference,” Hertstein said. “So our leadership initiated this discussion around, ‘How can we consolidate our efforts into one focus area and then mobilize people around that?’”

Hertstein said more than half of the efforts undertaken at that time had to do with helping children.

“Amway is a business about helping people reach their potential, and this is really an extension of that because children have the most potential, but they usually need the most help, too, so it’s a natural extension of the overall vision of our company.”

Amway’s CSR report is filled with stories of transforming children’s lives across the globe, from building homes in Latin America to afterschool programs in Tainan, Taiwan, to the creation of the World Wide Children’s Charity in Seoul, South Korea, and the formation and growth of Power Soccer in the United States for children confined to wheelchairs.

“It didn’t happen overnight. It took years for some markets to be able to figure out what they were going to focus on,” Hertstein said. “I think the point where we really started to see some amazing stories and amazing leaps in the numbers is when we saw … some of the top Amway business owners engaged.”

It was the power of telling stories that helped create the momentum Amway was hoping for.

“There is a bit of a contagious enthusiasm when you see some of these leaders that are starting to create big change on their own and bring people along,” Hertstein said. “You start to ask yourself, ‘What am I doing?’ So there is a lot of that that goes on.”

Today, the One by One campaign has its own website that includes stories that serve as powerful inspiration for what can be achieved. The stories also are highlighted on a YouTube channel.

“We are just experimenting right now with an Instagram map and a hashtag so people can take pictures of what they are doing around the world,” Hertstein said.

At the local level, Julie Boehr, volunteer coordinator for Amway’s West Michigan community relations, said it doesn’t take much to encourage involvement with the more than 100 charity partners Amway works with each year. “I will advertise opportunities out there and I rarely have to pull teeth to get them to participate,” she said.

Even those employees who find it difficult to find time to volunteer are presented with opportunities. “We have our manufacturing and transportation divisions and they have jobs that it’s hard to get away, so we thought, what can we do that will involve them and have them feel that they are giving?” she said. “Every year now, we’ve been participating in a local (KaBoom) playground build and, specifically, those divisions come out and they build a playground in five hours.” The company has built 15 playgrounds so far.

To celebrate 10 years of the One by One Campaign for Children, Amway is holding a Day of Service Nov. 20 and is asking all of its employees and business owners to participate. There will be projects going on in more than 50 countries during the 24-hour period.

“We see it not just as a simple volunteer day or activity; we are really hoping this will be a demonstration to ourselves and to the outside world of our long-term commitment to helping children in our communities, and we will also prove to ourselves how much we are really capable of if we all come together and do one big thing all at once,” Boehr said.

In West Michigan, Amway volunteers will provide services to a dozen nonprofits on nearly 20 projects. “The biggest one we are doing is a bike build,” Boehr said. “We are doing that over at our Spaulding manufacturing facility. We are going to be building more than 1,200 bikes, and then the coolest part about that is, once they are built, we will deliver them to a needy neighborhood on Dec. 21.”

She expects about 4,000 local employees will participate that day, each committing about two hours of time.

Amway also had a big announcement this year concerning its Spring Sprouts Kitchens program in China, which helps provide healthy meals to children. During an appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative Conference, Amway announced it would build 2,000 more nutrition kitchens at Chinese schools during the next two years, connecting with more than a million additional children.

“In China, with the economic growth, there are a lot of people moving to the big cities, moving from a farming society to a manufacturing society,” Hertstein said. “A lot of them leave their kids back with relatives or grandparents in these rural areas.”

With their parents gone and limited money coming in, many children are not getting enough nutritious food.

“This program in the countryside has been a collaboration with local government, county government and the central government to focus on nutrition,” Hertstein said. “The idea was, why don’t we build up the kitchens, train kitchen staff and work with the government so it will provide the food resources so that the kids get more and balanced nutrition.”

Currently, 754 Spring Sprouts Kitchens have been completed in China.

“The whole concept behind people and mobilizing people is that we’ve really found that it is something that we can do better than perhaps any other company in the world …” Hertstein said.

“I don’t think we would have been able to reach that milestone if we didn’t have Amway One by One. It’s encouraged each of our markets to find the best partners, the most urgent causes, and also to track their progress.”

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