Business School Topics
How can Australian organisations best enable their employees to help Indigenous communities?
Professor Cristina Gibson has spent the last six years working with some of Australia’s leading organisations to maximise the returns from their corporate volunteering schemes. In doing so, the corporations develop their next generation of leaders and build the ability to work effectively across cultures.
Professor Gibson has done much of this work in collaboration with Jawun, a not-for-profit organisation which places corporate secondees from companies such as Westpac, Qantas and Woodside into Indigenous communities.
In the last 15 years, over 2000 corporate volunteers have been seconded to more than 50 Indigenous organisations. Projects have included family income management programs, educational trusts, literacy programs, nutritional programs, and anti-smoking and alcoholism campaigns.
Professor’s Gibson role with corporate partners has included providing coaching, assessment, action planning, research and documentation for the corporate volunteers.
Recognising her work, Professor Gibson—who was recently appointed to the Woodside Chair in Leadership in the UWA Business School—has been awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s Impact and Innovation Award.
Dean of the UWA Business School, Professor Phil Dolan, praised Professor Gibson’s commitment to social impact.
“Cristina has addressed an important and impactful challenge: increasing the impact of corporate community investment, through the application of industrial organisational psychology, to develop and enhance community capacity,” Professor Dolan said.
“In our region of Australia, it is not unusual for a single firm in the resource sector to contribute as much as $200 million per year to the communities in which it does business.
“Cristina’s work began with the recognition that part of the challenge of corporate community investment is that corporations have failed to assess and monitor the social impacts of their investments, including the psychological and social pathways to community development, and then are unable to adjust community investment strategies based on these assessments to proactively improve the efficacy of their programs.
“In addition, the most strategic level of community development is still rarely observed. This involves an approach whereby the company integrates its business activities and community investments via a collaborative approach with the community.
“Cristina has pioneered such an approach, in the collaboration between academia, corporations, the non-profit organisation Jawun and Indigenous partners.
“Her program provides concrete evidence of the social impact of a collaborative process for intercultural competency building and community development.”
Verity Chia (UWA Business School) (+61 8) 6488 1346