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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2002 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

Presentation of the State Department Award for Corporate Excellence

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Remarks at Awards Ceremony
Washington, DC
January 16, 2002

(As prepared for delivery)

President Booth, CEO Williams, Assistant Secretary Wayne, and distinguished guests in Washington and around the globe.

The Secretary had hoped to be here today to personally present the 2001 State Department Award for Corporate Excellence to two outstanding American companies. As you may know, he is currently on a trip to South Asia and then on to Tokyo for a donors conference for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. This trip reflects the Secretary's -- and the Administration's -- determination to make the world a safer and more secure place by reducing tensions in the South Asia subcontinent, ensuring a better life for the people of Afghanistan, and ending terrorist networks wherever they may be.

It is my great pleasure to stand in for Secretary Powell this morning.

The Award for Corporate Excellence was established to recognize the role American companies play as responsible corporate citizens throughout the world. The values and practices of American companies, as they conduct their business, serve as a powerful model for leaders working to build the democratic societies and market-based economies that provide the best hope for peace and prosperity for the peoples of the world.

Our overseas missions nominated 62 companies for the 2001 Award -- more than twice as many as the year before -- based on their responsible and ethical business practices, exemplary employment policies, safe and healthy workplace standards, concern for the environment, contributions to the local community, innovation, and transparency in business practices.

Good corporate citizenship is not a new idea. Enlightened companies have long recognized that a good reputation with customers, investors, workers, and the community is simply good business. Such companies recognize the value of the "triple bottom line" -- profits, people, and the planet.

Good corporate citizenship is so widespread among American companies doing business abroad that it was very difficult to select the two winners. But, somehow, we did. I am pleased to recognize them now.

The winner of the Award for Corporate Excellence in the small-to-medium size enterprise category is the Solar Electric Light Company of Chevy Chase, Maryland, in recognition of the work of its subsidiary, SELCO-Vietnam.

SELCO-Vietnam has helped reduce poverty and spur economic development in Vietnam's countryside by supplying household electricity to families who lack access to a power grid.

As we know from our own 20th century experience, the availability of affordable electric power revolutionizes life and work. SELCO’s success in delivering electricity through wireless means has improved the lives of thousands of Vietnamese families.

Among its many programs, SELCO Vietnam worked with local women’s groups to persuade Vietnam’s Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development to provide low-interest loans and repayment schedules geared to crop cycles. It also worked with women’s groups to introduce the "Solar Electricity in Support of Women in Rural and Remote Areas" program, and donated a solar power system to a primary school to power the community’s television and lights.

In recognition of this exemplary corporate citizenship, which has improved the lives of thousands of Vietnamese, it gives me great pleasure to present the Award for Corporate Excellence to the Chairman and CEO of the Solar Electric Light Company, Mr. Neville Williams.

[Under Secretary unveils Award; poses for photo with Neville Williams; invites him to speak.]

Thank you, Neville.

I am now pleased to announce the winner of the 2001 State Department Award for Corporate Excellence in the multinational category, Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan.

Ford has won the 2001 Award for the impressive record of its Ford South Africa subsidiary, especially Ford South Africa’s innovative HIV/AIDS program.

As you know, Secretary Powell is passionate about eradicating the scourge of HIV/AIDS. We are committed to ensuring that government does its part in the campaign against HIV/AIDS. But, if we are to succeed, we also need the active participation of the businesses that have daily contact with the people most at risk.

Ford South Africa is aggressively addressing the threat of HIV/AIDS. Its comprehensive HIV/AIDS program, established in 1999, has had a dramatic impact on the health of Ford employees, their families, and the broader community. Ford’s initiative includes an extensive education program, voluntary on-site testing and counseling, upgraded treatment and insurance coverage, and sponsorship of community outreach programs. It has been recognized as a model by the Centers for Disease Control and many international organizations.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to present the Award for Corporate Excellence to Ford Motor Company President, Lewis Booth.

[Under Secretary unveils Award; poses for photo with Lewis Booth; invites him to speak.]

Thank you, Lewis.

Before we move to the interactive part of today’s program, I would like to thank our Chiefs of Mission around the world who demonstrate their personal commitment to our partnership with American business -- not only by submitting nominations for this Award, but also by their daily support for U.S. business interests overseas.

Most of all, I would like to thank the members of the American business community who invest, take risks, and bring greater prosperity and a share of the American dream to the four corners of the globe.

Thank you.

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