WASHINGTON – A week after President Barack Obama encouraged insourcing jobs, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored American companies Wednesday morning for building business abroad.
At the Award for Corporate Excellence ceremony, Clinton recognized manufacturing giant Procter & Gamble and family-owned Sahlman Seafoods Inc. for aiding developing countries by creating facilities or doing business in the countries. Chosen from a pool of 60 nominees, the companies were honored for corporate achievements in foreign countries.
Although Clinton congratulated the CEOs of both companies, she noted public disappointment with some unsavory U.S. corporate actions abroad.
“We are rightly concerned here in the State Department by some of the negative aspects that we have to deal with, whether it’s environmental degradation, or labor exploitation, or financial speculation, but that is the minority,” she said. “Unfortunately, it’s often the tail that wages the public dog and gets all of the attention.”
The only company in the award’s history to win for its work in two countries, P&G was commended for providing hygiene products and about 280 million liters of clean drinking water to more than 1.5 million Pakistani flood victims. In Nigeria, the manufacturer has also purified more than 2.5 million liters of water since 2008.
Bob McDonald, CEO of P&G, spoke of a “virtuous cycle” the company has pursued, maintaining a positive image to the public.
“When we improve lives, we grow our business, and by growing our business, we’re able to improve even more lives,” he said.
Florida-based Sahlman Seafoods, a shrimp-farming company, began operations in Nicaragua, establishing a processing plant and employing a majority of female plant workers to provide jobs to single mothers.
Clinton emphasized the significance of operating companies abroad, explaining that many foreign countries depend on American businesses to maintain contact with the United States.
“That’s how they learn what we stand for and who we are and what aspirations we have,” she said.