Foreign exchange rates, political instability, import and export restrictions.
It is safe to assume these topics are highlighted in a corporation’s 10-K. However, these issues also directly impact the corporate social responsibility efforts of a multinational corporation. When I learned of the Business and Human Rights Fellowship offered jointly by the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) and the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, I was intrigued by the possibility of applying my business acumen towards social impact in a corporate setting. The fellowship offers its selected fellows training with some of the leading scholars in the field as well as a paid summer internship at a multinational company.
I was seeking a summer internship that would allow me to approach social impact projects with a strategic lens while also giving me ample opportunity for learning and exposure to the technology, media, and telecom industries. As one of the inaugural fellows, the fellowship afforded me a valuable experience in emerging markets through the DIRECTV Latin America internship. Latin America, a region undergoing rapid economic development in recent decades, encounters human rights issues on a consistent basis. Even though the DIRECTV Latin America headquarters are currently in New York City, the presence of Latin America is felt daily as DIRECTV reacts to shifts in the political, social and economic conditions of the countries in which it operates. These shifts create challenges and opportunities related to human rights and corporate social responsibility.
I was motivated by the internship’s focus on establishing metrics to quantify the impact of DIRECTV Latin America’s Corporate Citizenship efforts across ten territories. The metrics project allowed me to transcend multiple departments in order to understand the nature of DIRECTV Latin America’s social responsibility in terms of sustainability, education, volunteerism and influence. I evaluated current benchmarks, potential as well as feasible indicators, and established a platform for future monitoring. The overarching project goal was to develop a quarterly management report that highlighted the performance of institutional relations, corporate social responsibility, public relations and anti-piracy measures. Working across departments, I learned about industry-specific initiatives to achieve increased levels of corporate social responsibility at the local, country and corporate operational levels.
Incorporating that knowledge across the operations and finance departments, I embarked on an additional project and created the business case for DIRECTV Latin America’s educational initiative (ESCUELA+) to transition into a separate 501c(3) entity (ESCUELA+ Institute). I analyzed the program’s performance and built the financial model for ESCUELA+ Institute while presenting recommendations in areas of costs, new markets entry and partnerships. DIRECTV Latin America’s educational initiatives represent one of multiple areas poised for growth in the social sector. As countries continue to develop infrastructure and economies, multinational corporations can pave the way for furthering human rights and social responsibility platforms.
That is why it is critical for business schools to offer opportunities at the forefront of the triple bottom line. By partnering with USCIB, an organization dedicated to the advancement of U.S. companies on a global scale, the fellowship provided a robust approach to conducting business. USCIB served as a resource throughout my summer internship by recommending materials and research relevant to corporate responsibility and governance. The Business and Human Rights Fellowship is an example of NYU Stern’s commitment to supporting students in various sectors through actionable programs. I am grateful that USCIB and the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights launched the fellowship and look forward to seeing future students take advantage of the experiential learning opportunity!
Lourdes Zapata is an MBA 2 at NYU Stern and an inaugural Business and Human Rights Fellow