How Chemical Companies can Win the Public’s Admiration

A colleague of mine recently said something to me that made me reflect on some of the positive interactions I have had with people who work at large companies.  Immediately two people (Drs. T.D. Shaffer and L.S. Baugh) came to mind as they had taken time to talk with me and provide advice regarding literature resources for publications that I was working on.  Over the years I have had the fortunate opportunity to converse with other great scientists such as Professors Richard Jordan and Jun Okuda.  I then thought to myself about the dislike that most of the general populous has for companies such as Exxon Mobil, Dow Chemical, and the like not to mention chemists in general.  This document outlines common-sense steps that such large companies can take to gain the trust and respect of the common person and as a result an appreciation for chemistry and chemists.  Since the ultimate success or failure of a company rests on its relationship with the consumer it is my belief that this document will be of value to those in managerial and decision making positions.

1)      Public Educational Outreach:  The company in question (within the country they were started in) will dedicate a significant portion (ca. 10 + %) of its resources (financial, informational, and instructional) to the advancement of sciences among students ranging from grade school through graduate school.

  1. Financial Outreach:  This program is one that treats all individual applicants equally and makes no distinction based on race, gender, financial/class status etc. but instead is ultimately concerned with providing resources for those that show special aptitude in the sciences to further their knowledge through scholarship funds.  Such funding will be strictly reserved for educational related expenses only; however, it will retain enough flexibility so that the student may fully benefit from such funding.  For example, school supplies, books, tuition, room and board would all be acceptable expenses to which such funds could be applied to.  All such scholarships will be offered on a regional basis and be awarded on a composite average of scholarship test scores, school grades and in certain instances recommendations from science teachers within a given school.  It will be openly acknowledged that these scholarships are provided by the company in question as a means of improving society in general and this will in turn bolster the public’s perception of the provider.
  2. Informational Outreach:  This program is one that promotes the company by discussing (in a manner that does not compromise intellectual property) some of the advances and processes that the company in question has developed for the production of materials it produces.  Much of this information will be provided to scientific writers ranging from authors of general textbooks to those who focus on advanced topics.  The remainder will be provided through publications issued by and conferences hosted by the company.
  3. Instructional:  The company in question will provide short courses, conferences, and other general instructional outreach programs to students within the sciences.  This will be the smallest segment of the public educational outreach; however, it may in many instances have the greatest impact.  During such events people will associate the company with science and recognize it as a leader in the field.  Moreover, such events may have an additional benefit in that talented students may desire to ultimately work for the company after attending such an event.

2)      Job Generation Outreach:

  1. Partnerships:  The company in question will seek out smaller cutting edge companies that offer fresh approaches to problems facing the chemical industry.  Working relationships will be structured such that the smaller partner prospers by such interactions not only through direct funding to support R&D activities but also by granting the innovator with a small but significant stake in technologies that they have had a part in devising.  This performance reward system will help further stimulate new advances in the area of chemistry that have true value in terms of real world application and not just be of academic interest only.  This will in turn help stimulate the economy and grow the workforce since small businesses still employ the bulk of laborers in the US.  The funding company can then further showcase such partnerships within the local region of the smaller partner as well as globally.
  2. Internships/scholarships:  The company in question will offer college students (both undergraduate and graduate) the opportunity to apply for apprenticeship positions where the student can learn science hands on.  The student will be provided with a stipend sufficient enough to cover expenses such as travel, room and board and also basic health care coverage.  Likewise, the company in question will offer these students with scholarships that will be awarded in a manner similar to those described in 1.1.  The purpose of these scholarships will be to reduce the financial burden of the student and can even be applied to paying down student loans.
  3. Academic Funding:  The company will continue to assist professors financially in terms of R&D expenditures.  The bulk of such funding will be used to pay graduate student stipends.  Such students may in turn decide they wish to work for the funding company once they graduate as a means to display their appreciation.

3)      Environmental Outreach:  The company in question will provide informational/instructional resources in the form of literature, short courses, and conferences covering topics related to the environment.  Emphasis will be on topics such as recycling, alternative energy and material resources, prevention of pollution, etc.   The company will discuss the steps that the company has implemented to reduce their impact on the environment as well as steps that individuals can take to help protect the environment.  These programs will produce a positive impression

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