Emerging World has published the results of their latest research on the long-term impact of Corporate International Service Learning (CISL) experiences. The study, completed in collaboration with leading global organizations including Microsoft, Merck and EY, found that “100 % of participants recommended a CISL experience to a colleague”. The results strongly endorse CISL’s positive and lasting impact on leadership behavior, career mobility, and retention.

Corporate International Service Learning (CISL) programs are becoming an increasingly popular tool for companies looking to build the talent and skills of their workforce while simultaneously addressing societal needs in the markets where they do business. CISL programs are an immersive learning experience. They offer unique opportunities for employees to travel across international borders and apply their work-based skills to projects that serve a third-party constituency and deliver a positive social impact.

In the past, very little research has been undertaken to establish the longer-term impact of these programs on participants and the associated return on investment for the company. To address this gap, Emerging World implemented the first CISL Impact Benchmark Study in 2015. For the first time, it was possible to generate highly robust empirical data that demonstrated the considerable value and return on investment that CISL programs bring to companies in terms of leadership development, career mobility and employee engagement.

For 2017, a new benchmark has been created from 688 employees from five companies: BD, Credit Suisse, EY, Merck and Microsoft.  As these programs have evolved, so has the study which now includes return on investment data on leadership development, career mobility, retention, employee engagement, business impact and responsible leadership.  Highlights of the study include:

  • Outstanding approval ratings: 100% of participants had recommended a CISL experience to a colleague
  • Deep levels of learning: 75% of employees reported that they had applied the learning from their experience to their role as a result of their experience
  • Strong business impact:  59% identifying one or more areas of the business that were impacted by their experience
  • Accelerated promotion: 66% of returning participants have moved to roles of increased scope and seniority
  • Enhances employee retention: 70% identified that their experience contributed to their decision to remain with their organization
  • Develops responsible leaders: 90% of participants reported that their experience inspired them to think more deeply about the role that business plays in the world


Get all of the results by downloading the complete report or the one-page infographic for an overview of key data points.

Sage Ways is the North American partner for Emerging World. Contact