Corporate community engagement is no longer about responding to requests from community organizations with a simple yes or no. Instead, companies are designing programs that make meaningful social impact while also meeting business needs. Here are a few noteworthy practices from some of the top community-minded companies in the country.
Today’s cutting-edge community involvement doesn’t merely select a cause from a traditional list that includes art, education and health. Instead, companies circle around causes that they are well suited to support.
The Home Depot is committed to supporting veterans. Since 2011, it has invested a quarter of a billion dollars in renovating 37,000 veteran homes and facilities across the country. The company also places high value on hiring veterans and currently employs 35,000 veterans.
Developing Employee Changemakers
Beyond offering employees volunteer activities, companies also create programs that develop employees to become community leaders and agents of change.
While Intel offers a robust internal website with volunteer opportunities that any employee can access, it has also formed affinity employee groups that are encouraged to take the lead in supporting issues important to their specific group. In turn, Intel not only provides paid time off to volunteer, but also provides a $10-per-volunteer-hour match to the service organizations its employees support.
Placing Community Involvement at the Top of the Organization
In years past, community involvement was often buried deep in community relations, HR, marketing or another department. Many of today’s companies place community involvement at the top of the company’s leadership structure, demonstrating its strategic importance to the business.
This practice has also been implemented by some of America’s largest cities, from New York to Chicago to Phoenix. These municipalities have created Chief Service Officers (CSOs) who work out of the City Manager’s or Mayor’s office to advise, support and develop city-wide service plans.
Many companies enrich the lives of their customers using community involvement, either by providing them with opportunities to serve or by having them benefit from the company’s community service.
T. Rowe Price is among companies that see a value in community engagement activities that involve both their employees and their customers. The company plans annual service events in which customers are also invited to participate. This concept redefines team-building, and we see it happening with company/vendor community activities, too.
Rhonda Oliver is CEO of HandsOn Greater Phoenix.