Whatever you focus on, reach out to other businesses to get them involved. Talk to elected officials in your area about the passion you have and suggest collaborating on solutions. Sit down with philanthropic groups who may be able to support your efforts. That’s how you go from being a single business with a good idea to building real momentum in helping solve a community’s issues.
How do organizational values play a role?
A key part of civic engagement involves looking in the mirror to ensure your own operations align with what you’re supporting publicly. What are you doing to ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace, and to support economic mobility for your employees and their families? Does the way your company consumes natural resources align with what you’re saying about environmental sustainability? It’s important that you articulate your values and goals to your employees, customers and the public, and that you’re able to demonstrate measurable progress in all of these areas. Your focus on organizational values should also extend to those you do business with, including your suppliers.
Why is civic engagement good for businesses?
More than ever, customers are supporting companies and brands that align with their own beliefs and values on climate change and sustainability, racial equality and education. And as companies compete for the best employees, it’s not just the paycheck; they’re concerned about what you stand for as a company, your values and the causes you support.
In a broader sense, though, companies and communities are part of the same ecosystem. We’re all interconnected, and all of us have to help bring positive change. Why should a company support education and help ensure all children have access to technology, for example? A few years from now, those students are going to be your employees, or the ones buying your products and services. Put simply, businesses can’t prosper unless communities prosper.
What have you found most gratifying in helping lead Bank of America’s civic engagement?
It’s rewarding seeing the positive impact you can have on people, whether in an after-school program for kids in underserved communities or even visiting a beach after you’ve organized hundreds of people to help clean up trash. But one of the most gratifying things is when you reach out to other businesses with an idea, and say, “We need your help and the community needs your help.” More often than not, you get an immediate and enthusiastic “Yes!” While it can be hard to take that first step, just about everybody wants to be part of the solution. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.