Any volunteerism is meaningful and, hopefully, satisfying to the volunteer in his or her own individual day-to-day life.
By Gina Rude, Accenture
I often wonder what really “counts” in life.
What truly matters regarding what I do with my family, my friends, at work and in the community? Does anyone even care about what I am doing? And why should I even be concerned about what counts?
Is it because what counts earns me recognition, advancement, popularity, appreciation, money? When it comes to what counts in the corporate world, do the things we do on a personal level need to be visible to our employer?
In my role at Accenture, I have the privilege of managing our volunteerism “counting” in the U.S. That is, it is my job to support our U.S. locations in executing their Corporate Service Responsibilities (CSR) strategies that align with our overall global CSR strategy. As a company we have the opportunity to lay the foundation and give people the opportunity to give back in the community through our volunteer efforts.
When the Focus is on Signature Programs…
The focus of our team is to guide Accenture employees to give their time through our two sponsored initiatives: Skills to Succeed and Environmental Stewardship.
Personally, I love seeing and hearing about all the ways our employees and locations are contributing to their community through these two initiatives. We take our corporate responsibility seriously and want to engage and cultivate our employees to contribute in the communities where they work and live…inside and outside company objectives.
Because we choose to focus and report on only those volunteer efforts where we are able to partner with our people to achieve impact, it can create concern among our participants regarding how they “count” the efforts they are contributing outside of the company sponsored volunteerism.
…Where Do You Log Personal Volunteerism?
A question I tend to hear a lot is “where do I log my personal volunteer hours?”
This is a tough question, because it is important our people are contributing by following their personal passions – and that it count toward their social responsibility, but from a tracking and development standpoint, we choose to only share what our people are doing at Accenture-sponsored events.
Often a follow-up question when they hear there is no mechanism to “count” their volunteerism activities outside these events within our company reporting, is “how do I count what I am contributing to outside of company sponsored activity and does it matter?”
Well, of course!
Any volunteerism is meaningful and, hopefully, satisfying to the volunteer in his or her own individual day-to-day life. It obviously counts to those benefiting. Where it becomes confusing is the same volunteerism borne out of a personal interest may not align with a company-sponsored volunteer effort.
Searching for Meaning … and Making it Count
We fully expect and know our people are working tirelessly on personal passions outside of all the work they do, and know that is part of what makes them great. And we're equally proud of them whether they find purpose in aligning with our corporate volunteer objectives or follow their personal passions to obtain purpose.
As I look back on my career and begin to add up what has “counted,” I start considering the big milestones, the accomplishments, the network that’s been built, the skills gained and the things I have done above and beyond my day job. Are the things I have done on my own bringing additional pride to my company? Did my company help me grow and develop so I could do these things? Similarly, have my individual efforts helped my company grow and develop in ways that I may not even be aware of?
The answer to that isn't a simple one.
But I believe the reciprocity inherent in company sponsored volunteerism efforts is simply a benefit for me to grow and hopefully give back at the same time. I hope that at the end of my career I can say I am proud of what I have done for my company and grateful for what my company was able to do for me.
And I hope that somewhere in the mix we were both able to contribute to our communities where we were fortunate to live, work and serve.
As for counting in the final accounting, “Yes,” all of it will have counted!
Join Gina at the Charities@Work 13th Annual Best Practices Summit on Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship on April 3-4, 2014, one of the country’s leading conferences on employee engagement and corporate social responsibility with attendees from Fortune 500 companies across all sectors of business.
Related: Finding the Balance: 7 Ways to Ensure Your CSR News Inspires & Activates
About the Author:
Gina Rude is with the Accenture Corporate Citizenship team in the US. She manages volunteer programs, people engagement and the employee giving programs to drive location strategies and involvement. Gina is passionate about helping employees find passion and purpose in a corporate environment and building engagement through giving back to the community.