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Johnson & Johnson Taiwan

Helping Women Stand Up on Their Own

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When Johnson & Johnson Taiwan offered to help the Peng Wan-ru Foundation, it provided the nonprofit organization sorely needed management skills, and empowered women to help themselves.

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Helping Women Stand Up on Their Own

By Rebecca Lin
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 417 )

Five years ago, Huang Shu-dan walked into the offices of the Peng Wan-ru Foundation, alone in the world and fearful for her future. Huang was divorced, and was having trouble holding down a steady job.

Selling insurance, waiting on tables, working as an administrative clerk in a small company, she had tried a wide variety of jobs. The older she became, the more she grew anxious, a profound fear brewing within her that she would never settle down.

"When I hit 40, I was still running around looking for work," Huang recalls.

Ignoring her family's disapproval, Huang decided to register for the foundation's home management training course. The one month of training she received changed her life.

Today, Huang is a happy, hard-working housekeeper who makes NT$40,000 a month washing clothes, cleaning and cooking for a number of clients. Her pay, she says with a glitter in her eye, "is more than the salary I made in the past."

But of even greater importance is "the respect I get from customers and their satisfaction with the job I do, which helps me feel more and more confident," Huang admits.

Having an Impact

Huang's dramatic turnabout is just one of a thousand stories that have emerged from the Peng Wan-ru Foundation's home management training course. Over the past five years, the foundation has trained more than 1,700 women, with 94 percent of the trainees remaining employed for at least one year. They average around NT$30,000 in monthly pay, more than the starting salary offered to university graduates. By any measure, the class has had a profound change on the women's lives and their families.

Behind the foundation's ability to deliver such impressive results lies an important force – Johnson & Johnson Taiwan.

"Only after making contact with Johnson & Johnson did we discover that they understood people better than we did," says Peng Wan-ru Foundation executive director Wang Huei-chu, looking back at the impact the company had on the nonprofit group after it got involved. Johnson & Johnson reversed her bias against cooperating with private businesses and gave her a new sense of humility. The foundation also gained what most nonprofits sorely lack – management sense.

Every person who visits Johnson & Johnson's Taipei office is immediately greeted by the company credo that dominates the entrance. "We are responsible to the communities in which we live and work, and to the world community as well," the credo reads.

"It's not just rhetoric. It's what we believe," says Kim Sang-Jin, general manager of Janssen-Cilag Taiwan, a division of Johnson & Johnson.

The Korean Kim has worked for the giant consumer health product company for 18 years, gaining experience in South Korea and Hong Kong before coming to Taiwan.

"Every office is encouraged to submit its own corporate social responsibility plan," Kim says, because that is the only way to meet the different needs of each society. The approach also prompts employees to discover problems or ponder the meaning of social responsibility, to the point that it gradually becomes a part of the corporate culture.

Johnson & Johnson Taiwan chose women and children as the focus of its activities in Taiwan, spawned by a milestone that made it look hard at itself.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in Taiwan in 1993, the company felt compelled to ask, "After 30 years, what kind of an impact has Johnson & Johnson had on Taiwan?" recalls Johnson & Johnson Taiwan managing director Angela Chang. The company began thinking about how to bring about social change and worked hard to find an issue that would have a substantial impact. But no matter what issue they chose, they were determined to get involved in a big way.

Money Not the Key to Success

Chang clearly realized that the company's staff did not have time for such an undertaking and looked for a partner through which Johnson & Johnson Taiwan could positively influence society. She eventually chose the Peng Wan-ru Foundation, which stressed the concept of women helping women, because "in helping a woman, you're saving a family."

When Chang knocked on the foundation's door to offer the company's help, she made her intentions clear to foundation chairwoman Liu Yu-hsiu. Her goal, Chang said, was not to impose the company's own needs on a nonprofit organization, but rather to have "the nonprofit stand on the front line, with the company providing assistance behind the scenes." 

As a potential starting point, Liu brought up the home management training course that at the time was a source of perplexity for the group.

"Do you understand the needs of your clients?" Chang fired back, ready to get to work. The question stumped Liu and her foundation colleagues, a clear sign that the Johnson & Johnson executive had gotten to the heart of the problem, but she offered reassurance.

"This is what we're best at," said Chang, who spent 15 years in the company's marketing division working primarily at identifying customer needs and satisfying them.

Johnson & Johnson Taiwan set up a small team to both study the program's participants and analyze the reasons behind the success of those housekeepers who were in demand. The team then compiled all the needs and itemized the preferences of different regions to create standardized teaching materials and classes. Once a course ended, the team would follow up by examining service quality through such indicators as rate of employment, level of satisfaction and wage growth.

Chang relied on her network of contacts to find the most appropriate and professional people to train students how to wash clothes and cook, and even improve their self-confidence.

"The volunteers were not chosen haphazardly," says a chuckling Chang. "Only by making use of their strengths could we generate the biggest effect."

Because most of the participants were single parents or once-married women looking to learn a new skill, it was important for them not to worry about their families as they were trying to turn their lives around. Johnson & Johnson Taiwan put up NT$2.5 million to fund micro loans to needy participants. Those who received loans were to pay them back in installments once they began working. This small fund became a fountain of life, generating NT$73 million in income in five years.

"The key wasn't money," Chang says of the company's successful cooperation with the Peng Wan-ru Foundation. "It was finding the needs."

Identifying the needs of women and the needs of the foundation was Johnson & Johnson Taiwan's core competence. Applying that competence successfully created a new horizon in which the women, the foundation and the company have all emerged as winners.

Translated from the Chinese by Luke Sabatier 


Johnson & Johnson Taiwan

CSR Foreign Enterprise No. 7

Affiliates: Janssen-Cilag Taiwan; Johnson & Johnson Taiwan Ltd.; Johnson & Johnson (HK) Taiwan Branch; Johnson & Johnson Taiwan Ltd. Vision Care Division

Employees: Around 500

Chinese Version: 幫女人自己站起來

Keywords:

好友人數