Finding More Meaningful Corporate Volunteering
I write a fair amount about digital age transformation, but hadn’t really thought about the impact on employee volunteering until I did two things. First, I applied for an SAP Social Sabbatical, and was accepted. Second, I recently talked with Alexandra van der Ploeg about SAP’s latest Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, specifically as a co-founding partner of IMPACT 2030. IMPACT 2030 is private sector-led collaboration between major companies to mobilize corporate volunteers supporting the achievement of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The primary focus is on eradicating poverty and inequality and addressing climate change. Read my full article on this important initiative on the SAP News Center.
IMPACT 2030 espouses a new kind of corporate volunteering that matches employee skills with community needs on a global scale. In talking about SAP’s involvement, van der Ploeg was pretty candid about the evolution of SAP’s corporate volunteering efforts.
“SAP is a global company with a European history, and might not be the first company that comes to mind when you think of CSR, particularly in the United States,” she said. “But through the Social Sabbatical program, employees take their skills, competencies and expertise, and apply it in an incredibly meaningful way to work with an organization and help advance their business objectives.”
Van der Ploeg sees SAP’s Social Sabbatical as the prototype for this new kind of corporate volunteering. For those who might be unfamiliar with it, employee volunteers are embedded with local organizations in emerging countries worldwide for four-week assignments. The kicker is that we’re matched to support business development efforts based on our unique skill sets.
The Social Sabbatical has become SAP’s flagship volunteer program, generating a significant amount of well-deserved recognition. “It is an incredibly impactful program, and we have large companies with well-recognized names coming to us asking how we’ve done it,” said van der Ploeg.
I also had the chance to speak with Sue Stephenson, Vice President of Community Footprints at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, another IMPACT 2030 co-founding company. Stephenson told me that, “Our employees of every generation bring their values to the workplace, and this is an opportunity to do good and contribute in a way that goes beyond what their day job is. This linkage to the sustainable development goals shows that the role they’re playing is part of a broader network.”
I’m honored and excited about being selected to participate in the Social Sabbatical. Early next year, I’ll travel to Botswana for four weeks, where I’ll work with local businesses to support their development objectives. And I totally agree with the concept behind IMPACT 2030. There’s only so much each company can do on its own. Having a platform to connect and collaborate with other others, aligning ourselves to address a common purpose means we can combine forces to create even more impact than we could individually. Of course each private sector company has its own culture and expectations, but uniting to help achieve global sustainable development goals provides a common purpose cascading down to more effective volunteering.
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