Business & Community

Boeing South Carolina demonstrates what it truly means to be a good corporate citizen

By: James T. (JT) McLawhorn –

Peter Drucker, a pioneer in the world of modern business management, said all leaders have two responsibilities: “They are responsible and accountable for the performance of their institutions . . . They are responsible also, however, for the community as a whole.”

Here at the Columbia Urban League, we have taken inspiration from this message and work hard to remind leaders in the business community that their responsibilities run deeper than their corporate bottom line. Some get it, some don’t.

James T. (JT) McLawhorn, president and chief executive officer of the Columbia Urban League.

For that reason, when Boeing announced the establishment of major new operations in South Carolina, we had high hopes but also tempered expectations about what it would mean for our community. Fast forward to today, and the answer is clear. Where there was once empty land, there are now state-of-the-art facilities, and where there was once unemployment, there are now 7,500 new Boeing jobs in our state alone.

At a time when American companies are cutting back everything deemed “unnecessary,” all too often you see benefits being cut or jobs moving overseas. But not Boeing. The company invests in their employees; has higher compensation rates than the rest of the aerospace industry in South Carolina; and invests in personal development and employee benefits, such as personal finance advising and company-paid educational degrees. Boeing has truly been a game-changer in South Carolina.

It is clear that Boeing’s leaders have carried out their first responsibility – to the performance of the institution and its people – exceptionally. But even more important from our perspective, is that Boeing has also carried out – and set a very high bar for other companies to emulate – regarding Drucker’s second responsibility – responsibility to the community as a whole.

Boeing has proven itself a devoted and responsible corporate citizen in our state. Since 2010, Boeing has donated more than $28 million dollars to non-profit organizations focused on every aspect of South Carolinians’ lives and communities. And Boeing South Carolina employees have personally given nearly $1 million of their own money through their Employees Community Fund in the past five years, and they have volunteered their time to support more than 500 community projects throughout the state.

At the Columbia Urban League, we’re especially appreciative of the time Boeing employees have volunteered at our annual STEAM Expo helping middle school students build paper airplanes and exemplifying Boeing South Carolina’s commitment to inspire the next generation of our STEM-focused workforce. The expo is just one piece of a broader Columbia Urban League program that Boeing has invested $200,000 in since 2014 geared at raising parental awareness about the positive effects of STEM education. In partnership with the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, we aim to increase the number of economically disadvantaged students who pursue STEM careers at underserved schools in the Midlands Region.

Boeing has achieved a huge milestone this year, celebrating its 100th anniversary. 100 years of adventure, creation, dedication, and innovation. A lot has changed in the past century, and Boeing has led the way. Not just through the airplanes and products it makes, but through the example it sets as a responsible corporate citizen and a model employer, committed to inclusion and diversity. On Boeing’s journey to becoming one of the largest aerospace companies in the world, it cultivated a large and diverse employee base, and as a result, Boeing is ranked number one nationally in the National Society of Black Engineers’ employer preference survey – an admirable achievement from our perspective.

But above all, Boeing has taken Peter Drucker’s teachings and put them front and center. Boeing has fostered an environment of hardworking and dedicated employees that are committed to not just the bottom line, but to their state, to their communities, and to the well-being of South Carolinians for generations to come.

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