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OCTOBER 1, 2002

© Copyright 2002 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P
All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission from HP.

Rabbi Schneir, Mr. Prime Minister, Dr. Kissinger, Cardinal McCarrick, Governor Pataki, members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished ladies and gentlemen: it is a special privilege for me to be here this evening. When he received an honorary award from Tel Aviv University, Amos Oz once remarked that "there is no way I can speak for anyone—on a lucky night I sometimes manage to represent myself."

I admire Mr. Oz's restraint. Even so, on behalf of the men and women of Hewlett-Packard, I want to thank you for this wonderful award, and for the honor of joining such an illustrious company of past recipients—especially from a Foundation and from a rabbi whose life itself is a testament to hope, to faith, and to all that is good in this world.

A month ago today, I was just about to step on a plane to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. For the first time in the history of these summits, corporate leaders were invited to have a seat at the table. As a company with a presence in more than 140 nations around the world, I thought it was important to take them up on that offer.

For most of the next week, we all heard until we could hardly bear to hear again the statistics that define the challenge of the developing world today: the fact that half of the world's population lives on $2 a day; that a billion people live on less than one dollar a day; that more than 100 million in Africa alone live with the daily threat of war.

It brought to mind an example I once heard, that tried to paint a picture of what the world would look like if the Earth's population was shrunk down to a village of precisely one hundred people, with all the earth's existing human ratios the same.

Of the 100 people, 57 would be from Asia, 21 would be from Europe, 14 would be from the Western Hemisphere, and eight would be from Africa. Eighty of the 100 would live in substandard housing. Seventy would be unable to read. Sixty-five would never have made a phone call. Fifty would suffer from malnutrition. Twenty would never have had a clean drink of water. Only one would have a college education. And only one would own a computer.

Now, take that analogy one step further. Imagine if all of those people actually did live in the same village. Imagine if they were all painfully aware of how each other lived. Imagine the resentment that would build up in that village if those who had food didn't make enough of an effort to feed those who didn't; if those who had access to clean water didn't even think about those who didn't; if the person with the college education and the computer went out and bought a car and satellite television and simply enjoyed his life, while the children across the street sat in darkness under a leaky roof, begging for food.

What would happen? As Dr. Kissinger and others have so eloquently written, it's not hard to imagine how that kind of disparity would eventually lead to something like the events of September 11th.

The message of this Foundation—the message of that summit—is that it's not too late to step back from the brink, to reverse those trends, and change that global disparity. But it's going to take the contributions of every one of us, working together in new ways, to invent a different future.

I come to you today from a company that was founded over 60 years ago on a few simple beliefs and philosophies: on a belief that trust and respect and integrity really matter; on the belief that how we do things is as important as what we do; on the belief that while a company's objective is of course to make a profit, that a company's objective is also to make a contribution.

These philosophies and beliefs are still the foundation of everything we do. As a global company, we believe that with global reach must come global responsibility. On one hand, it means being a good global citizen, maintaining high standards in areas like the environment, ethics, labor and human rights. On the other, it means being part of the communities in which we do business. HP was one of the first companies in the world—nearly 50 years ago—to give its employees paid time off to do volunteer work, a tradition we continue to this day.

When it came to philanthropy, like many corporations, HP traditionally looked at disparities in the developing world and asked two fundamental questions: first, how do we use our money to provide people with the resources they need to make a difference; and second, how do we use our talents to make sure citizens in the developing world have the training to use the technology or equipment we facilitate once they've got it?

That's what traditional philanthropy has been about—but if we have learned anything in this new global economy, we have learned that traditional philanthropy is no longer enough. In asking those two questions, we rarely take a leap to a fundamental third question, which is: how do we engage their talents? How do we engage local citizens in local communities in the developing world to learn what's important to them, and what goals they hope to achieve?

I think we in the multinational business community rarely ask local citizens what they think and what they need—either because the market share hasn't been there, or the profit motive hasn't been there. But if we never make the leap to that third question, corporations leave off the table those very assets—our ability to invent locally relevant products, our project management skills, our ability to set goals and meet them—that make us most relevant.

If the Johannesburg summit made one point clear, it made clear that financial capital alone is not the greatest wealth multinationals can bring to the developing world, it is human capital. It is experience and knowledge, and the ability to transmit that into capacity building. Especially at a time when the challenges are so great, we need to apply all of our best talents to solving those problems.

In a sense, at HP, we believe that this new age we are living through today marks the beginning of a new era of leadership—that now, more than ever, corporate leaders have an opportunity to redefine the role of the corporation; to leverage our ability to improve the lives of people, and communities, for the better. In fact, we believe that the winning companies of this century will be those who not only increase shareholder value, but increase social value at the same time—and that more and more shareowners, customers, and partners will begin rewarding companies that fuel social change.

But that can't happen if multinationals remain faceless entities from far-away places. It can only happen if corporations engage local citizens in the developing world in the places where they live and work. Like some of the companies represented in the room today, we are working to create a new model of involvement, one that taps more deeply into the things we do best.

Instead of simply committing resources—like computers or printers—and wishing them well, we are committing some of our best talent to underdeveloped communities from East Palo Alto to Kuppam, India, from South Africa to Houston; putting them in place for up to three years; and charging them with the responsibility of working with local citizens to set goals and create solutions for the challenges the community prioritizes. In the process, we're working hand in hand with local governments, NGOs, and organizations like the Conscience Foundation. This isn't about imposing solutions—it's about listening to the needs of the community and helping them acquire the tools they need to make their own goals and dreams come true.

Why do it? This is not an argument for compassion, although compassion is right and moral and just. This is an argument for enlightened self-interest. First, because of the security dimension—poverty anywhere undermines stability everywhere. Second, because if we look beyond the next quarter or two, particularly for an industry where only 10 percent of the world is in a position to buy our products, we have to acknowledge that many of the best ideas and products and partners and markets of the future will come from the developing world.

Doing the right thing also happens to be smart business. It's true—no company or country or organization can do it alone. But together, I believe we can make real what this Foundation has aspired to create for 37 years—to develop freedom, democracy, opportunity and human rights as the fundamental values that will help give the nations of the world their best hope for peace, security and shared prosperity. Thank you for letting us be part of that journey.

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