Why Top Executives Give Back to the Community

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Being a top entrepreneur and business executive involves more than just finances. The best executives will also give back to the community, participating in non-profit events and donating time and money to important charitable causes. Research suggests such participation trickles down to the staff level and helps boost both employee and corporate giving.

Although improving culture means different things in different industries, it does help employees feel more connected to an organization. Charitable giving is also an opportunity for companies to define their purpose beyond products and services, and to assist staff in reinforcing that purpose.

A prime example of this philosophy comes from automotive leaders at Toyota where the company’s core values is to be “humble, kind and generous within the local communities.”

Executive Tom Linebarger said, “I work a lot and travel a lot and I sell a lot of engines, but there is nothing more important that we do than help the people in our community.”

When asked in a survey if their organization has a clear purpose, respondents who answered “yes” jumped from 62% for companies that don’t organize holiday charitable events, to 84% for companies that offer multiple holiday charity events. That’s a large leap for programs unrelated to a company’s corporate vision or mission statements.

In addition, 37% of survey respondents indicated that they felt more connected to the culture when their company organized charitable events. The impact on morale was even stronger: 57% believed the charitable events made for happier teams on the job.

“By organizing and offering charitable opportunities in the holiday season, companies can help employees align with their corporate purpose and mission,” the OC Tanner survey noted.

Charitable giving has been a part of the workplace for decades, and the majority of U.S. companies organize charitable events for their employees, OC Tanner noted. But there’s always room for improvement.

Sean St. John, executive vice president and co-head of fixed income, currencies and commodities at National Bank Financial in Toronto, has been successful due to hard work and dedication. But he also donates his time and energy to the community, through several charitable initiatives.

Sean St. John reflects on the importance of giving back and encourages his staff at National Bank to get involved in community events.

“We all know the important aspects of life are family, friends and community. Taking time to get out there, help others in the community, being involved, are all part of a full, balanced life,” he says.

The best employers frequently lend the unique skills of their employees to worthy causes. For instance, professionals at Deloitte have completed more than one-thousand pro bono projects in the last four years. In addition, more than 200 people within the company’s consulting business use their professional expertise to help local non-profits.

Such projects go well beyond the “feel good” factor and help give employees a sense of ownership in their employers’ positive initiatives.

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