Exxon: Let’s Solve This

We never want to give praise to oil companies too quickly for fear we’ll be just as readily contradicted (like $5/gallon regular gasoline prices, offshore drilling, et al.). Yet, we have to say we’re impressed with Exxon’s advertising and “Let’s Solve This”  campaign to improve education, particularly US math and science education (STEM).

What grabbed our attention recently were the timely Exxon2and attractive national ads in support of teachers and educational improvement. Not only was the advertising dead-on timely, coming as it did about a week after the nationally-watched teachers’ strike that delayed the start of school in Chicago [and a few other places], but it also didn’t hurt that it coincided with a widely circulated New York Times’ story on teachers’ unions—once Democratic stalwarts—now cultivating strategic relationships with key Republicans across the country. While we’re not taking political sides on these issues, we acknowledge wholeheartedly our previous PR work on behalf of schools and school reform causes. In this instance, though, our aim is to acknowledge a company for its smart and committed corporate support on behalf issues critical to their corporate mission and for the betterment of society.

We’re always impressed when companies show they “get it” by not only taking up, but taking the lead on these kinds of issues. So, we took a look at the “Let’s Solve This” and found out some things you might want to know. Exxon/Mobil has been sponsoring this cause since 2009, with the National Math and Science Initiative, to promote teacher training and student preparation in so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). Without question, this is a critical issue for Exxon/Mobil and other corporations that depend on US ingenuity in these fields; but, of course, it’s also a critical issue for our society, in general, as Americans have been slipping further and further down in academic achievement in these areas. We like the fact the Exxon not only supports these issues behind the scene, but has shown a willingness to shine a light onto larger related issues (like the quality of education overall), even when such issues reach the point of contention.

So we’re hoping that “Let’s Solve This” does indeed make crucial headway on the series of vexing issues related to STEM. In doing so, perhaps they can provide a model for how corporate social responsibility, in general, can work on a variety of other issues.

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