Social Priorities Header

Social Priorities

As Dave Robertson emphasized in his introduction to this issue, we strive to treat every person with dignity and respect. We believe every person is unique and ­­— if given the right opportunities — can make a contribution that not only benefits society but helps that individual self-actualize. Self-actualization is essential for Koch, or any company, to create virtuous cycles of mutual benefit.

Koch’s approach to diversity and inclusion focuses on valuing the range of experiences, thoughts, ideas and backgrounds of our 120,000 global employees — and bringing them together to solve problems, experiment, innovate and transform. As Charles Koch has pointed out, our stewardship framework is “built around human flourishing."

The health and well-being of our employees and communities is always our first priority. Our people build capabilities daily by learning and transforming themselves and their work to reduce hazards and create resilience in the systems designed to protect them. A great example of this is the monitoring solution designed by Molex, which is not only an environmental compliance tool, but a way to detect process and product releases that would be harmful.

The following are some specific examples of how Koch is addressing these priorities in the social arena.

Global community engagement

Molex, the Koch company with the most employees, recently launched a global engagement program to help employees find ways to make a difference where they work and live.

According to Erica Holm, community affairs program manager at Molex, implementing a community engagement program during a time of COVID concerns has been challenging but rewarding.

“We decided to focus on four areas where we think Molex can make the biggest difference for our communities,” Holm said.

Helping coordinate and implement Molex's initiatives is a network of community ambassadors. Thirteen regional leaders support the local ambassadors in 18 countries. They all connect with each other and senior leadership to share knowledge and celebrate successes. “That gives us a platform for learning cross-cultural practices from international teams,” noted Lucy Li, the regional lead for China.

Although the program is new this year, it has already led to successful projects benefitting recovery and relief programs, education, mentoring, and environmental cleanup and planting events. Many Molex employees have provided unprecedented, hands-on support to local hospitals and organizations during the COVID crisis in their local communities.

“We’ve already seen the ways we can help people transform their lives and their communities. Our employees are thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute by helping others.”

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    Chicagoland — Molex is a global supplier and sponsor of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) student robotics program. So far this year, the company has distributed robotics kits to more than 4,100 student teams around the world.

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    Barcelona —Molex employees in Spain helped clean up a beach June 5, World Environment Day.

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    Malaysia — In June, Molex employees were given approval from the National Security Council to set up the very first COVID vaccination clinic in their community.

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    Atlanta — The Georgia-Pacific Foundation funds a wide variety of community enrichment investments focused on improving the social and economic well-being of citizens.


Knowledge Networks

In keeping with our Stewardship Framework and Vision, Koch promotes diversity in a more inclusive way, from an individual’s standpoint.

“Our starting point,” said Steve Daley, president of Koch’s MBM capability, “is an absolute belief in the importance of having an inclusive workforce. We are convinced we can’t succeed long term without diversity. Our Guiding Principle 7 – Respect, makes it absolutely clear that we are to ‘embrace different perspectives, experiences, aptitudes, knowledge and skills in order to leverage the power of diversity’ in all Koch companies.”

There’s nothing wrong with having a group based on shared interests, Daley continued, “as long as the group is voluntary, inclusive, encourages diverse perspectives and doesn’t request special treatment. Otherwise, they run the risk of becoming exclusionary, divisive or self-focused.”

From an MBM perspective, the purpose of any network or business group should be to build and broaden our employee base. “If we ringfence ourselves with only those people who have backgrounds like ours or the same perspective,” Daley said, “that limits discoveries and sets us up for failure. What we value most at Koch is an individual’s character and contribution mindset, not credentials, connections or group affiliation.”

Does Koch’s unique approach work? Cara Chennault-Reid, the COO of Koch Global Services group, says “yes, it does work. While it’s not always perfect, we do have a great recent example with Koch’s intern program,” which made Forbes’ list of Top 100 Internship Programs this year.

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We want everybody to have the opportunity to be included.

Cara Chennault-Reid, COO Koch Global Services — HR Solutions and Facilities & Real Estate (LIFT)

“One of the first criteria for this recognition was having a bias for action as it relates to advancing diversity and inclusion. Time and time again our interns tell us they are amazed by the access they have to senior leadership, including Mr. Koch himself.” (Charles Koch makes a point of addressing the interns and answering their questions every year.)

When it comes to promoting diversity, Daley, who has a passion for history, points to a word of caution in Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech before becoming president. “Lincoln warned us all that ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand.’ The verse he was quoting also says the same about cities and nations. True diversity means we work together in identifying opportunities, solving problems and creating greater value for others rather than retreating into closed groups, no matter how well intended those groups may be.”

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    Stand Together is partnering with VOMO, a cloud-based volunteer platform, to connect volunteers with more than 250,000 service opportunities around the world. Together, they helped engage 20,000 volunteers for 1DayLA July 2.

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    Stand Together is partnering with VOMO, a cloud-based volunteer platform, to connect volunteers with more than 250,000 service opportunities around the world. Together, they helped engage 20,000 volunteers for 1DayLA July 2.


A picture is worth a thousand…scholarships?

Whenever artists, ad agencies, web developers or historians need great pictures, Getty Images is often their go-to source. The Getty Images platform includes one of the largest collections of privately owned photographs in the world. (Three years ago, Koch Equity Development became an investor in Getty Images.)

Stand Together, an extensive philanthropic community founded by Charles Koch and strongly supported by the company and many of its leaders, recently funded an exciting new project that leverages Getty Images’ capabilities in a new way to benefit selected HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and UNCF (formerly the United Negro College Fund and recipient of more than $25 million in funding from the Koch Family Foundation and Koch Industries). It’s called the Getty Images Photo Archive Grant for HBCUs.

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1900 – Students in a pharmacy lab at Howard University. (Image credit: [Buyenlarge]/Getty Images.)

This multi-year commitment begins with Stand Together and the Getty family donating a total of $500,000 to help digitize up to 200,000 archival photographs owned by selected HCBUs. Getty Images will then represent those images, making them available for licensing worldwide. The HBCUs will retain all copyrights and receive half of the revenue generated from photos licensed. Thirty percent of the revenue generated will fund a new UNCF scholarship exclusively for HBCU students. The remaining 20% will be reinvested to help fund future grants to additional HBCUs for years to come.

“As a society, we can only learn from history if we tell everyone’s story,” said Mark Getty, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images. “This partnership is an important step in that direction.”

“By bringing these images to millions more people,” added Brian Hooks, Stand Together’s CEO, “this new curation will help celebrate the unique contributions that HBCUs, their graduates and faculty members have made and continue to make for our country.”