I recently had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion as part of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship 2017 International Corporate Citizenship Conference. Phyllis A. James, executive vice president and chief diversity and corporate responsibility officer at MGM Resorts International, moderated the conversation, which also included Jack Bergen, vice president of corporate projects at Arconic, and Caroline Chambers, vice president and diversity programs manager at Comerica Bank. Together, we explored how an integrated approach to corporate responsibility and diversity and inclusiveness can help achieve business goals.
At the 2014 International Corporate Citizenship Conference, volunteerism emerged as one of the major themes of discussion. To keep the conversation going, it also became the topic of our April webinar, titled “Innovations in Volunteering.” This one hour webinar highlighted two companies that have utilized volunteer programs to enhance their corporate citizenship programs at their companies and provided key takeaways.
Research has found that professionals who are required to track billable hours are often less willing to volunteer. The pressures of meeting certain quotas can deter professional services firms from taking the time to give back to the community. Quite the opposite trend can be seen at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, however, an international law firm that focuses on intellectual property; corporate, finance, and real estate; and litigation. Whitney Deal, Director, Corporate Citizenship, attributes this trend to the culture of giving back which has been ingrained in the firm’s 153 year-old foundation.
When Robert Musslewhite, CEO of The Advisory Board Company, presented the 2013 challenge of 100% participation in service, $1 million in nonprofit benefit, and 10,000 lives touched, his employees responded. At The Advisory Board Company, employees are encouraged to develop as professionals and lead with both their heads and their hearts. The company culture is driven by a desire to not only go beyond every expectation to serve mission-driven organizations, but to do so with an understanding of the importance of its nonprofit partners’ work. Because of this service-driven mindset, combined with a collaborative approach focused on truly understanding all facets of a challenging issue, they have built deep relationships with their partners.
Now entering its third year, the Skills-Based Volunteer Program at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) is focused on making high impact, long-term progressive change for select nonprofit partners. To meet this end, BCBSMA recognizes the importance of leveraging local talent when implementing an impactful corporate citizenship initiative. This talent forms the foundation of the Skills-Based Volunteer Program in which recruited employees are paired with local nonprofit organizations that have a need for their particular skills and experience. Associates provide a wide variety of skills and expertise in traditional business functions, including human resources, finance and operations.
In partnership with the Human Resources Department, the Corporate Citizenship team established this program as a way to build the internal capacity of its nonprofit partners while creating an outlet to develop and showcase its employees’ core competencies. “We wanted to deepen BCBSMA’s support of its community partners by leveraging our most strategic investment – our associates, their skills, and their expertise,” explained Lucy Darragh, Director of Corporate Citizenship at BCBSMA. To fully realize the potential of such an initiative, BCBSMA reached out to Common Impact, a local nonprofit organization that facilitates cross-sector partnerships designed to tackle community challenges.