[VIEWPOINT]Good Relations Can Mean Good BusinessLast week, more than fifty foreigners including myself, had an opportunity to participate in a fun charity event. The event was "Making Kimchi of Love with P&G," sponsored by P&G Korea.
We made kimjang kimchi (kimchi for the winter) for about one and a half hour, mixing the pickled cabbages and seasonings, which had been prepared in advance. My wife and I wore aprons and put on rubber gloves and worked hard to blend the seasonings into cabbage leaves for the best taste. We also fed each other kimchi samples, which are made by putting the seasonings on individual cabbage leaves, as we were mixing the kimchi.
When I ended up having more than 10 tastings the volunteers teasingly asked me if I had come to eat kimchi instead of making it. But, how could I pass up on a delicious opportunity like this that comes only once a year?
Despite the cold weather, we were sweating from making kimchi and after a while our backs started to ache. Jeffrey Jones, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, who also volunteered for the event, made all of us laugh when he said that from now on every time we eat kimchi we would remember the hard work and backaches of Korean women. The kimchi was sent to charities, including orphanages and homes for senior citizens. All of us who participated were proud of the time and effort.
Making kimchi to send to needy people is a part of P&G Korea's community activities and is held annually, inaugurated last year.
Citibank has been involved in community activities in Korea and last year it started providing loans to people who normally cannot get loans from financial institutions. The program provides loans for seed money at a low interest rate without collateral for individuals who come together to present a business plan. This program helps those who are extremely poor but want to work hard to achieve a goal. Citibank worked many years to prepare for this project. Currently the program is operated by a Korean charity organization and Citibank participates behind the scenes.
Allianz First Life presents an award called "Korean of the Year." To increase participation of the general public, the company holds a sweepstakes, giving away prizes worth hundreds of millions of won. When I asked Michel Campeanu, president of Allianz First Life, what was the idea behind the award, he said it was part of his company's effort to work with the Korean community. Allianz hopes to inspire people to work in their community by awarding a Korean who has contributed to the development of Korea.
Following the economic crisis in 1997 and as the perception toward foreign investment changed, more foreign companies entered the Korean market. The Korean government has worked hard to highlight the advantages of direct foreign investment to a public who are quite conservative.
I don't think many people know that multinational companies that invest in Korea also invest in charities here. Of the many foreigner CEOs I know, there is no executive whose company is not involved in community activities here. The above are examples of some of the many activities, not to mention the activities of our own company, DaimlerChrysler Korea.
No matter how tight the budget, there is always a budget allocated for community activities and personnel go out of their way to volunteer their time. Not only do we want to fulfill our role as good corporate citizens in the community we work and live in, we believe it is our right and duty. Although the times are hard and people are busy with their lives, if we put together small efforts to help the needy, this winter will be much warmer?
The writer is president of DaimlerChrysler Korea.
by Wayne Chumley