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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal   Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at Presenting Inaugural Corporate Excellence Awards to Francis Schaffer, President, F.C. Schaffer & Associates, and to Richard Thoman, Chief Executive Offices, Xerox Corp.
Washington, D.C., December 21, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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[Audio streaming of remarks]

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. Good morning, everybody, thank you. And Honorees and Excellencies, friends from the business community and Capitol Hill, distinguished colleagues and guests here in Washington and around the globe.

After Seattle, I can't tell you what a joy it is to speak to an international audience about the positive role of US business in the world without feeling as if I should be dressed up as a turtle in self-defense. Seriously, I did want to make a public spectacle here, not of myself but of the award we inaugurate today, because the State Department's natural partnership with American business is something that I value very much.

For example, we both remain determined to build a more open and broadly based system of global trade and to help ensure that in every foreign market, on every continent, American businesses and workers have a level playing field on which to compete. That is only one key reason why we must stop denying US foreign policy the resources we need to do our job.

The support of the business community is vital in assuring that America can continue to lead, and I hope we will have your help because no partnership can fully succeed when one of the partners is being starved of the nourishment it needs.

But our spotlight today is on the great things American business is already doing and has done to help achieve our nation's goals in the world. Everywhere I travel, I see the best US companies bringing to foreign economies not just American capital but American technology, best practices, and the values of freedom. These firms see worker training not as a burden but as a wise investment. They treat the environment as a sacred trust and high ethical, financial and legal standards as a source of strength. And they show the world that for the best American companies, there is no conflict between doing well and doing good.

We had intended to honor a single company but, thanks to our posts' extraordinary response to our request for nominations, our field was so strong we couldn't decide -- and, fortunately, we make the rules so we changed them. Today I am delighted to announce the first of two winners of the Department of State Award for Corporate Excellence.

In the small to medium enterprise category, F.C. Schaffer & Associates of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Schaffer has stayed the course since the early 1970s with its sugar operations in Ethiopia. Despite civil strife, natural disasters, and a difficult business climate, it has helped build the Ethiopian economy and provided opportunity to thousands of people in desperate need.

When floods hit two of Ethiopia's three government-owned sugar refineries, Schaffer stepped in with valuable advice and technical assistance -- characteristically, free of charge.

And its factory in Finchaa is a modern marvel of environmental friendliness. By processing sugar cane byproducts to supply its own power, it demonstrates Schaffer both doing the right thing and doing the thing right.

It gives me, therefore, great pleasure to present the Department of State's Award for Corporate Excellence to the company's President and CEO, Francis C. Schaffer.

(Applause / Presentation of Award.)

MR. SCHAFFER: Thank you, Madame Secretary, Your Excellencies and distinguished guests. It's a great honor for us to receive this award. We really appreciate it. It's the result of assistance from all the Department of State and from our embassies in Africa and throughout the world that we have been successful.

We are a very small company. We started in 1960. We do about 90 percent of our work overseas; about two-thirds of that in Africa, the rest in other developing countries. We do about 8 to 10 percent in the United States, so you can see how important this is to us to work overseas.

We've completed about 700 agro-industrial projects throughout the world in the last 30-odd years, 39 years, and I think in about another 39 years, I'm going to consider semi-retirement. I really appreciate this award. I'm very grateful for everybody's help to make it possible.

(Applause.)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I don't think he should retire. Thank you very much. Because I have to leave shortly for the White House, let me take a moment now to congratulate every company and every post that took part in this inaugural competition -- including, of course, our two winners.

You have shown the world much of what is best in the American spirit and you have demonstrated anew the genius and generosity of American free enterprise. You have demonstrated also that we can set a standard of corporate excellence to which all your peers may aspire.

Speaking of excellence, I am equally delighted to announce now our first winner of the Department of State Award for Corporate Excellence in the multinational category: Xerox Corporation of Stamford, Connecticut.

Xerox of Brazil has kept thousands of young people off the mean streets of drugs and crime by keeping them instead in the classrooms and on the playing fields of its Mangueira "Olympic Village." What began as a Samba school in a Rio shantytown last year served 1,400 students, 3,000 patients in its clinics, and 220 tradecraft apprentices.

Xerox of Brazil has worked in many other ways to empower the marginalized and give the young a chance for a better life. Its Community Involvement Program helps to meet basic needs and teach life skills. It has built a modern hospital and a school and its "Factory of Hope" offers medical care and job training in a poor Rio suburb.

Xerox strongly supports environmental education in the communities where it does business and, in an era when American is accused of cultural hegemony, I find it inspiring that Xerox has established a special library to publicize and preserve the history of the Brazilian people.

Therefore, I am very pleased to present the Department of State's Award for Corporate Excellence to the company's President and CEO, Rick Thoman.

(Applaud / Presentation of Award.)

MR. THOMAN: Thank you, Madame Secretary Albright and Ambassador Larson. On behalf of more than 90,000 Xerox employees worldwide and especially our 5,000 employees in Brazil, it's an honor to accept the first State Department Award for Corporate Excellence.

Those of us inside Xerox believe that we have a long and strong record of good corporate citizenship on issues ranging from social service and community involvement to protecting the environment while reducing waste and recycling product parts of all kinds.

I have had the opportunity to see firsthand some of the work that our people in Brazil do on a variety of projects that have just been described to you, and those range in a whole series of things from a provision of sports programs to combat juvenile delinquency, to programs on education, to training for teenagers, and a whole series of other things.

At Xerox facilities, along with other health, education and environmentally oriented initiatives, this is something that we're very proud to do. I would also challenge other companies to do the same things as they extend their breadth abroad because, clearly, globalization is one of the trends we all face in a world economy and a globalized society is one in which people of all kinds benefit from American investment.

I really do think that, in fact, doing good is good for business -- and I would challenge everybody to do more in the environments in which they operate.

So, Secretary Albright and Ambassador Larson, thank you again on behalf of the people of The Document Company Xerox. We accept your award with a great deal of pride and a pledge to keep doing the right thing. Thank you very much.

(Applause.)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I really am so pleased that we were able to do these awards to these outstanding companies and to have everybody here to see what they do; and, also, I think to reiterate the message that I started out with is the partnership between the State Department and business is a indissoluble one because we actually are doing exactly the same thing, which is promoting American interests. And so I'm very, very pleased that we are able to have these awards and very pleased to be able to put another seal on this great partnership.

Thank you very much.

(Applause.)

[End of Document]
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