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How Corporate Volunteerism Can Change the World

Submitted by: Sarah Middleton

Posted: Mar 21, 2016 – 06:00 AM EST

Tags: volunteerism, employee engagement, csr


Please allow me to make an obvious statement: We live in a society of impatience. We don’t want to wait in line to pay for our groceries. We don’t want to wait in line at the bank or the car wash or the taxi stand. We want that email response now. We want those results immediately. We want an answer yesterday. We’re whirling dervishes of spastic fidgeting and incessant internal monologues. We’re a collective tornado, tearing through life and work and play at a blistering pace.

And it is easy, so easy, to run week in and week out, to run so fast and so hard that we collapse on the couch exhausted each weekend. And maybe when we’re on that couch, we read an article about a family torn apart by the global refugee crisis, or a homeless veteran, or children orphaned by AIDS, or a human trafficking victim, or any social issue really. And we probably tuck that article in the recesses of our minds, because that’s someone else’s problem; someone else will swoop in and help that family, the veteran, those children, that victim.

But let me make another obvious statement: Volunteers – namely corporate volunteers – are changing this societal paradigm. We are outraged by the extreme inequality we see around the world. And we are also champions for optimism. As corporate volunteers, we know that we can offer courage, creativity, innovation, and conviction. We can pursue social change and be a force for good.

Corporate volunteers are coming out in droves to serve, to make the hurts of the world hurt less. The private sector understands that corporate citizenship is no longer a nice thing to do – it’s a business imperative. Employees want to be engaged; they are incredibly motivated by what they see their employers do. And employees are watchful. They ask, “Does this company allow employees to bring their whole selves to the office, and does it offer jobs with social purpose?” The answer to both of these questions needs to be a resounding “yes.” Gone are the days where employees clock in and clock out; people want to serve, and they want to serve through their employer.

When our employers support a culture of service, we, as employee volunteers, can fully express our values. We can make our communities better places to live and work. We can make ourselves better leaders. 

Volunteering increases our resourcefulness and diversity of thought. It can help us craft brand-new skills. We can discover talents we didn’t know we had.  

Volunteering is amazing in so many ways. It can take us outside of our comfort zones. It allows us to work with new challenges and new people. Volunteering can create cultural empathy and an expanded perspective. 

Aside from the extraordinary power of volunteering, it’s these myriad benefits of volunteering that have me so excited about IMPACT 2030, a global private sector-led collaboration to mobilize employee volunteers to advance the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through IMPACT 2030, companies around the world can ensure smarter corporate volunteering together. This initiative is a huge global movement – and it’s time. Service needs to be a global movement if we want to make a dent in the world’s biggest social issues, like poverty and inequality and climate change, and we need the private sector’s resources to achieve these goals. Companies that sign on to IMPACT 2030 commit to aligning their employee volunteer efforts with the global goals to create real and sustainable change.

IMPACT 2030 is the only initiative of its kind and scale. I liken IMPACT 2030 to a patchwork quilt that wraps around the globe – the top layer consists of patchwork blocks that represent constituents from the five stakeholder groups (private sector, academia, civil society, government leadership, and noble houses); the middle layer (the stuffing) consists of incredible knowledge, and the bottom layer (the backing) is the resulting network that carries and pushes us forward.

As human beings, we are all wired to help; we should all be clamoring to join this patchwork-to-network. I firmly believe in the transformative effects of volunteering, and what better way to magnify the impact of our collective service than to promote awareness of the SDGs and encourage the practice of corporate volunteering around the world.

When corporate volunteers work together, they can produce something truly remarkable. They can leave their desks behind and engage with people around the world who are different.

By giving back, employees the globe over are continuously shaping trusting, authentic, innovative and caring corporate cultures. They’re making a real impact wherever they’re volunteering, and they’re building an amazing volunteer identify for themselves and their companies. 

Want to learn more about IMPACT 2030, or perhaps just transformative impact in general? Join our PIMCO Foundation team at the Charities@Work Best Practices Summit on Employee Engagement. Stop rushing and start exercising persistence and patience. Start tackling the inequitable systems of our world, help us all reach the SDGs by 2030, and let’s together shape a better future. 

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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