Dispelling the myth about corporate responsibility
As a seventeen year old, Ellie Harris – a co-op student at Elanco Animal Health in Greenfield, US –has never known a world without the internet. Here, she writes about her experience with the Cause and Shared value (Shared Value) team.

Born in 2001, I’m part of ‘generation Z’ (or ‘gen Z’) – the first to have been exposed to the internet since childhood.

Like generations before us, we’re hungry to make the world a better place. But now through the power of social media, it’s easier than ever before to become an ‘activist’. We can join the fight against social injustices with a simple hashtag or a repost.

But when I ask my friends their thoughts on corporate responsibility, they’re suspicious of the motive. Rather than seeing it as a genuine desire for companies to use their power positively, some believe it’s only a ploy to increase market share and dodge tax liability.

“Don’t just do the PR, but make an actual difference,” one friend suggested.

Due to my role at Elanco’s global headquarters, and the cynicism I often see online, it’s sometimes been difficult to not to wonder if I’m contributing to the problem somehow.

But after recently working alongside Elanco’s Cause and Shared Values team, I’ve realised how genuine our corporate responsibility partnership is.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of helping organise our annual trip with our global non-profit organisation - working on food security - Heifer International. It’s an organisation working to help end hunger and poverty by providing families in poor communities with livestock and training, so they can grow their income.

Elanco lends support on some of Heifer International’s key projects and – following a company-wide competition – we took a group of global employees from all levels of the organization out to Cambodia to witness the work for themselves earlier this year. They not just went to see the impact that we are making, they also actually go their hands in the dirt and built a chicken barn.

They were able to see the undeniable impact these projects are having on real people and communities. While it’s true that the trip provides a good news story to promote Elanco’s positive impact on global small agriculture, it communicates much more than this.

Elanco colleagues are able to see the hardships these farming communities face; they can speak to the farmers and families living there. And farmers in this small community can speak honestly about their working lives.

These shared experiences are what make Elanco’s trips with Heifer International more than just a ‘PR trip’. They help make that human connection, inspiring colleagues so that when they return, they can be confident we’re all making a real difference to communities who need it most.

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