Porter Novelli

Note: The following is a guest post from Bill Novelli, the first in a series based on his comments from a co-convening of Social Capital and Points of Light. Most of the attendees were corporate execs, with a smattering of nonprofit execs included. The event was a joint session with Social Capital and Points of Light that sought to understand how to approach partnerships and where to go from there. It took place in Alexandria, VA on Feb. 23. You can read the introduction to the post here and part one of the series here.

Corporate employees will be even more involved in partnerships for good

Bill NovelliCorporate volunteers and employee engagement strategies are already built in to many partnerships. We’re all aware that talented people gravitate to organizations that offer the opportunity to be entrepreneurial, to achieve, to excel and to feel positively about where they work. These employees are essential to business success.

Many, if not most, of these employees have a strong desire to participate in doing well by doing good. They are willing to volunteer and they have valuable competencies to bring to bear. Towers Watson reported that these employees are connected to the organization on the basis of commitment to achieving work goals, a supportive environment for productivity and the promotion of well-being.

Most of you are already involving your employees in social partnerships. The challenge will be to make even more and better use of what they have to offer, for their good and for the good of the company. This is a two way street. A corporate executive of a Fortune 500 company told me that it’s about helping employees to integrate a social agenda into their day-to-day work on behalf of the company. And it’s also about holding employees accountable for social behavior.

These “bigger-than-self” approaches are what employees want, and they can have a powerful impact on performance. A University of Virginia/University of Washington study says that this applies not just to individuals, but to enterprises as well. Connecting to a sense of values and purpose is a powerful force.

I work every day with your future employees; in my case, MBA students at Georgetown. Our Global Social Enterprise Initiative has many student leaders, and even more students who come to our events and participate in other ways. These millennials want –perhaps “demand” isn’t too strong a word – to be involved and to take pride in where they will work.

I know you realize this and are recruiting them with that in mind. For example, Morgan Stanley recently asked that I inform our students about their 2016 Sustainable Investing Challenge, for graduate students to develop an institutional-quality investment vehicle that aims to achieve positive environmental or social impact as well as competitive financial returns. There’s substantial prize money, which by the way, is still an excellent motivator.

Recently I moderated a meeting of our students and some of our corporate partners, including CSX Transportation, BD, Thrivent Financial, United Healthcare, Corning, Proctor & Gamble, Aetna and Rockwell Automation, among others. The discussion about what students want and what companies have to offer in terms of combining business and social value was candid and enlightening. And it showed a lot of congruence. Companies and future employees realize that this is needed, growing and powerful.