Corporate volunteering – a must for companies

Encouraging the voluntary commitment of their employees pays off for companies in many ways. Voluntary assignments by IT specialists can be particularly useful. […]
Siemens CIO Hanna Hennig: "In the employee initiatives, we can combine our corporate responsibility for society with our employees' desire for more personal commitment."
Although most IT professionals would like their employers to offer social volunteering opportunities, many companies still have some catching up to do. This is the result of a survey conducted by CIO-Magazine, IDC and WHU among 393 IT professionals in the DACH region. According to this, not even 20 percent of the employers have created the framework conditions for company volunteer work.
Not only the employees and non-profit organizations can benefit from this, but also the employers themselves, as the example of selected companies shows.
The technology group Siemens has firmly anchored the topic of corporate volunteering in its global sustainability strategy and the "DEGREE" framework. This includes financial, organizational and communication support for numerous employee initiatives, for which all employees are given at least two days off per year.
A recent example is the digital learning project #SiemenbewegtSchool, which was founded by employees in 2020 during the pandemic and is under the patronage of Siemens CIO Hanna Hennig. Pupils are trained in the use of digital media in courses, lectures and workshops.
In addition, Siemens employees get involved in non-profit organizations such as the Hacker School and various hackathons to impart IT knowledge and promote activities in the area of corporate social responsibility. As part of this year's Earth Day, sustainability measures far removed from the actual IT topic were also supported at the Munich location.
"In the employee initiatives, we can combine our corporate responsibility for society with our employees' desire for more personal commitment," emphasizes IT boss Hanna Hennig. Corporate volunteering thus makes an important contribution to the sustainable management of the Siemens technology group and has a positive effect on its overall image.
The employer brand also benefits from this, since the meaningfulness of the work is considered a decisive criterion for the job decision. "With our voluntary service programs, we can increase the satisfaction and loyalty of our employees and also inspire young talents for our company," says Hanna Hennig in a nutshell. "Corporate volunteering is therefore an invaluable advantage for our company, especially in times when there is an increasing shortage of IT specialists."
Tobias Fausch, CIO of the BayWa Group, who develops solutions and projects for the basic needs of nutrition, energy and housing, shares similar experiences. At BayWa, too, employees can take part in social projects during their working hours. Volunteers are sought several times a year for the BayWa Foundation's Social Days, for example to lay out school gardens or build insect hotels. One employee per year is released for up to one day to participate.
In the “EnableMe” mentoring program, employees can support young adults with physical disabilities as they enter the workforce. In five one-hour sessions, questions about professional orientation, applications and interview preparation are dealt with.
Comprehensive IT skills are required to implement the digital transformation. It is therefore of particular advantage when companies encourage their IT professionals to do voluntary work. At BayWa, this happened, among other things, in a project for the Pfennigparade Foundation, whose work the Group has been supporting for over ten years. Since an exhibition by disabled artists could not take place in the BayWa foyer due to the pandemic, IT staff developed a virtual platform that makes the works visible online.
"Anyone who wants employees who take responsibility and have a high level of social skills must cultivate a corresponding corporate culture," emphasizes Tobias Fausch. "For me, social commitment is part of it." The BayWa CIO does not see corporate volunteering as a means to an end, but as a lived reality from which everyone benefits and which is very attractive.
As a current example, Fausch cites a company-wide aid campaign for the Ukraine that arose from the commitment of a single employee: "In the end, the BayWa Foundation was able to send 25 trucks with relief supplies to the crisis areas. It was very clear that everyone wanted to make a contribution and would support BayWa as an employer where it could!”
Dorothee Appel, CIO of ABN Amro Bank, also considers it essential to integrate the topic of volunteer work into the corporate culture and corporate values: "Social volunteering must be wanted and lived with pleasure – from the board to every employee."
This can be seen in the foundation that ABN Amro Bank set up more than 20 years ago to implement social projects – with a focus on education and the support of socially disadvantaged children. Because the interest is huge: To date, more than 6,400 employees have participated in around 110 projects.
Although there is no special volunteer program for IT specialists, this group of employees also shows a strong need to get involved. An example of this is a current project by the ABN Amro Bank Foundation, in which employees read books together with primary school children. Participants are free to participate in these activities, which total six sessions of half an hour each.
For IT boss Dorothee Appel, it is obvious that both employers and employees benefit greatly from corporate volunteering such as the reading project: "From the company's point of view, this is the best team development imaginable, and the soft skills of the employees are strengthened." The participants themselves experience a kind of appreciation through the positive feedback from the children, which goes far beyond professional recognition. "Today everything revolves around corporate purpose," says Dorothee Appel. "Young talents in particular want to experience their work as meaningful." With its numerous social volunteering offers, ABN Amro Bank is right on trend.
As these examples demonstrate, corporate volunteering offers numerous benefits to CIOS and their organizations. You can get a head start in the war for talent and strengthen employee retention while benefiting from the social skills employees develop through their community service. In addition, the promotion of company volunteer work is an important building block in the development of social and ecological corporate management, without which no company can score points with customers and business partners in the future.
CIOs and their companies are therefore well advised to act quickly and implement suitable volunteering projects. This is the only way to eliminate the significant delta that, according to a joint survey by the CIO, IDC and WHU, exists between the needs of IT experts for voluntary social commitment and the actual circumstances in the company. Especially in the light of digital transformation, this result should be a wake-up call for CIOs and their companies.
*Sibylle Hofmeyer is a freelance journalist based in Heidelberg.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: