Leading by Example: Helping Your Employees Build Your Community

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As 2013's NorthCoast 99 program clearly indicated, building great workplaces in Northeast Ohio is closely tied to building great communities. Among the NorthCoast winners, community service or other volunteerism opportunities was nearly universal, but even among the general population of employers in the region, there is a strong commitment to service in the surrounding community.

According to the 2013 ERC Sustainability & Social Responsibility Survey, 81% of organizations participate in at least one or more community involvement efforts. In terms of the specific social responsibility efforts reported, as the figure below indicate, employers most commonly offer monetary donations/ charitable giving, participate in walks/races or help with food drives.

In addition to participating in these activities as an organization, some employers simply implement policies that create an environment in which community service can thrive outside of the formalized employer driven service opportunities. For example, about one quarter of the participating organizations have a policy in place that allows employees to take paid-time-off in order to volunteer. A similar number of employers encourage employees to join non-profit boards in order to give back.

Interestingly, few organizations surveyed (22%) have official community service policies on the books. In addition, only 5% of organizations have a formalized set of rules or guidelines regarding requests to employers for matching donations or other employee initiated charitable giving requests. Organizations typically evaluate employee requests for charitable giving and matching activities on a case-by-case basis or pick one or a few charities available for employees to donate and then the company matches this amount. Ultimately, this suggests that while many organizations still have not formalized their social responsibility efforts, the local business community is demonstrating a strong sense of social responsibility both financially and otherwise to their employees and the surrounding community.