Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the State Department. I’m really sorry that I couldn’t join you in person, but I am still very pleased to play a part in celebrating the great work of the finalists for the 2015 Award for Corporate Excellence.
I’ve said many times that foreign policy and economic policy are really two sides of the same coin.
There are indelible links between peace and prosperity; growth and stability; development and security. Yet our government cannot possibly advance any of these aims individually.
We need partners in every sector: companies that recognize that they can turn a profit while doing right by the customers that they serve and the workers that they hire; enterprises that invest in local communities and, in the process, create jobs for young people that give them a stake in building their societies up, instead of – out of frustration – turning to other, less constructive, options.
Put very simply, we need you. This celebration of corporate excellence was designed to recognize but also to bring out the best in American businesses, so that we’re able to export more than just U.S. capital, services, and products – but we also export American innovation, values, and high standards.
The fact is that every day impressions of our country are formed not only by the outstanding work of our diplomats, but even more so, by the interactions between foreign consumers and U.S. businesses.
Every day, you promote economic opportunity and you provide good jobs to local workers. Believe me, that makes an enormous difference.
Every day, you share abroad our belief in the rule of law, in fair play and open markets, our respect for the environment, and support for the fundamental dignity of every human being, and that makes a difference.
To highlight your work, this year, for the first time, we chose finalists and winners in three distinct categories:
First is environmental sustainability, a growing field in which companies are revolutionizing energy markets and harnessing renewable sources of power on every continent.
Second is human rights and labor rights, honoring firms that support equality in the workplace, promote transparency, and combat corruption.
The third category recognizes small and medium-sized enterprises, those who are often the most fertile source of new jobs and where innovation is absolutely key.
Each of our finalists exemplifies the excellence of the American business community and shows the best face of our country to friends overseas.
Each rejects the false choice between doing well or doing good in favor of the right choice – which is actually doing both at the same time.
And each demonstrates the value of cooperation between this Department and the American private sector – because the more that we are able to work together, the more successful we will be in promoting our mutual interests and values, and in strengthening our leadership across the globe.
So once again, profoundly: thank you to all of you. You are all winners today, and I look forward to working with you even more closely in the weeks and months to come. All the best.