When I first transitioned to the tech sector, I assumed my new colleagues would be uninspired “techies.” (Hint: You know what they say about assuming…) I imagined they might be hunched over their computers, unsocial, and maybe not even passionate about their work. I thought to myself, “This is where I come in. I come from ‘corporate social responsibility’ and I will help my colleagues find purpose!” After all, I came from the non-profit sector and it was my job to enlighten this huge company and share how good it was on the other side – the purpose-driven side.
Looking back on my first day 6 years ago, I met many new colleagues – both virtually and in person, however, unlike my assumption, everyone I met appeared happy, energized, and plugged into their local community. Say what? How could this be? I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
From walking the halls to my first town hall style meeting, each employee was more passionate than the next. People shared stories about how their daily work makes the world a better place. They challenged company leaders to do more, say more, and be more involved. I came home, and said to my now wife, “These people love their work! They believe that what they are doing is making a difference in the world.”
My wife is a social worker, and at the time she didn’t buy it. She said to me in disbelief, “Don’t they look at a computer screen all day?”
I’ll admit, at first it was hard to understand how a technology company [and its employees] helps the world run better and improves people’s lives, we are constantly working at this. But now, I have a clearer understanding as to how anyone can find purpose in the right environment.
My role may not be to “enlighten” my 89,000 colleagues, but it is a purpose-driven opportunity to engage with- and inspire my colleagues. As a member of the Corporate Social Responsibility team, I can help activate people through volunteering, which directly creates positive community impact. I also am in a privileged position to guide investments to partners making a difference for at risk youth. This type of purpose is easily defined, tracked, and talked about, however, it’s limited. Most importantly, these engagement avenues should not be the only one way people believe they can make a difference. We all want to make a difference, but it’s not “officially” in most of our job titles. How we feel within our work environment can ignite or inhibit our ability to act on this.
How does your company support you in igniting your passions? Find out what happened when I was at in an inclusive environment in Part Two of this blog series: Lesbians Who Tech Summit; Your Ticket to Shine.