Port of Oakland, Director of Social Responsibility
You might ask what is doing good business. Well from my perspective, doing good business means being socially responsible. With this idea in mind, I am elated to present a series of articles profiling socially responsible leaders who are in charge of local businesses and corporations. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) sparked my interest in graduate school and it became my primary research focus, landing top on my list of interests in the business world. CSR is a business tactic that delivers economic or social benefits to their respective community or communities. Digging deeper along this line, I specifically wanted to know what being socially responsible looked like for corporations and business entities. Consequently, I set out to find what local companies are doing in the community from a socially responsible lens. CSR tactics vary from company to company. In one organization, it might look like designing a workforce pipeline or creating awareness around a specific issue and promoting it as their main mission for change.
This article is the first of a series of profiles on local business leaders who are charged with designing, executing and implementing CRS as their business strategy. An example of an active company with a social responsibility department is the Port of Oakland.
The Port of Oakland was the first major port on the Pacific Coast. It consists of a seaport located in West Oakland and an airport located in East Oakland. Oakland's port ranks among the top 4 in the nation and 20 in the world in terms of annual container traffic. The port is one of the main employers in Oakland.
BUSINESS LEADER - AMY THARPE, Port of Oakland, Director of Social Responsibility
Amy Tharpe is in charge of the Port of Oakland's Social Responsible department. As the Social Responsibility Director at the Port of Oakland, Tharpe was appointed in March 2013 to establish and execute strategic partnerships with the community, locally-owned and minority-owned businesses to promote positive social and economic changes.
Tharpe believes that being socially responsible is ensuring that the community at large benefits from the success of the Port's business revenues. Her department works diligently to ensure that small businesses have a place at the table when large contracts are awarded. As part of fulfilling this mission, the Port recently renewed a Project Labor Agreement (PLA), which will increase East Bay hiring for Port-related capital projects.
Tharpe also believes it is important to invest in local talent. Tharpe is a strong advocate for the community and hiring locally. Her department works with local high schools and the Peralta Community College District to create a workforce pipeline. Creating this pipeline to local jobs also helps the local economy. This year Tharpe is excited that her department selected 26 interns, 20 from college and six from high school, to work and get hands on experience in various departments throughout the Port.
"As each port city has its unique way of operating", Tharpe further explained, "What makes the Oakland Port distinct is their involvement in helping to establishing policy. Many ports may not have a social responsibility department. I am proud to be part of an organization that cares about its community enough that it allocates money to support and educate through a number of investment initiatives. We have a dedicated team around community relations in local hiring and looking at fair wages. The Oakland Port SRD's main community partners include community based nonprofits, local businesses, labor groups, environmental organizations, and community groups from West and East Oakland." Tharpe is always looking to support local organizations and always see a need to enhance outreach.
This year Tharpe’s department features the new "Harbor Tours" initiative for the public to learn more about the Port's business lines. Harbor Tours are free and a great family excursion. Sign up for here to RSVP.
Prior to working at the port, Tharpe managed San Francisco's HOPE SF Initiative and served as the Director of Policy and Planning for the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Housing. Tharpe earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Economy from U.C. Berkeley and a Master of Public Policy degree from Harvard University. Her extensive experience in working in the field of civic duty heavily equipped her for her role as the Social Responsible Director at the Port of Oakland.
To stay in touch with upcoming community events the Oakland Port is sponsoring, you may look at their newsletter here.
To sign up for a maritime boat tour, click here