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3 QUESTIONS for Eugene Sepulveda, CEO, Entrepreneurs Foundation On March 31, the Entrepreneurs Foundation will offer “Let’s Play: A Corporate Citizenship Conference.” As more businesses realize the value of supporting our communities, many are now looking for ways to improve and increase their efforts. Sepulveda’s organization hosts this annual conference, to be held at National Instruments. I’ve heard of CSR or corporate social responsibility, but what is it, exactly? I’ve never really liked the term corporate social responsibility and don’t think the implication that something is “owed” is very helpful. At our last conference, we tried recasting the phrase as “Corporate Social Opportunity.” Identifying the intersections of what’s good for the community and what favorably impacts a corporation’s bottom line is a better foundation for sustainable programs. We have to remember, creating well-paying jobs that allow men and women to support their families is foundational. On top of that, when companies can further invest in ways that improve our schools, environment, social safety nets and cultural infrastructure while increasing their revenues or decreasing their costs, that’s the win we look for. Are there Austin companies that practice corporate social opportunity today? Yes, in a very big way. Just look at the largess from those who made money at Dell, Tivoli, Silicon Labs, National Instruments and Austin Ventures as well as the ongoing investments and leadership from Seton, St. David’s, AMD, Freescale and Applied Materials. And, through the Entrepreneurs Foundation, last year alone, over 1,800 employees of startups donated over 11,000 volunteer hours, in addition to the $2 million plus we raised and contributed to other nonprofits. Are their opportunities to become even more sophisticated in creating shared value? You bet. That’s why we’re hosting the conference.

Who are some of the CSR leaders in our community? Many are presenting at our conference— National Instruments, AMD, Applied Materials, Silicon Labs, Dell, Seton and St. David’s. Austin thought leaders include Alyson Peerman of AMD, Charles Barnett of Seton, Trisa Thompson of Dell, Ken Gladish of Seton Foundations, Earl Maxwell of St. David’s, the Sosas of MPower and, fortunately, there are many others. I am especially excited about emerging companies and thought leaders who will make huge differences in Austin—Brett Hurt of Bazaarvoice, Brian Sharples and Carl Shepherd of HomeAway, and the teams at Innography, Troux Technologies and Convio are in a race to see which company can make a bigger impact. Especially today, the challenges in our communities are acute. We have historically high demand for services and funding constraints, both due to an anemic economy—on top of a real debate about the role of government in education, health care and other social services. Many companies and entrepreneurs see the direct link between their value, their earnings and the health of their markets and labor force. We’re gathering at this conference to talk about investments in our communities that generate quantifiable returns, not about corporate altruism. Frankly, I don’t spend much time promoting the altruism, even among philanthropists. We’re looking for investments.


Spring 2011


Profile for GivingCity Austin

GivingCity Austin #7  

Featuring Austin's 30 New Philanthropists of 2011, plus Spring Art events, How to End Panhandling, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Women's Storybo...

GivingCity Austin #7  

Featuring Austin's 30 New Philanthropists of 2011, plus Spring Art events, How to End Panhandling, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Women's Storybo...