Bringing Creativity and `Collective Impact’ to the Workplace

Companies are recognizing that volunteer programs affect the value of their business – and employee morale. Volunteer programs help employees build creativity and problem-solving skills they can use in their jobs and even their personal lives.

jean.jpgVirgin Unite CEO Jean Oelwang addresses the Business Track Opening.

On June 17 during the Conference on Volunteering and Service Business Track Opening, Virgin Unite CEO Jean Oelwang gave a TED-style talk on how. “We as leaders in our companies need to make sure that our employees have that collective purpose so they can continue to be themselves,” said Oelwang. “We need every single person to be empowered with purpose right now.”

Diane Brady, senior editor and content chief of Bloomberg Businessweek moderated a dynamic panel discussion with Kerry Sullivan, president of Bank of America Charitable Foundation, and Deb Elam, president of the GE Foundation and chief diversity officer of GE.

“When you make volunteering personal – that’s when you get employee engagement,” said Elam. “Companies have to do volunteerism in a way that makes sense for the employee.”

Jeffrey Raider, co-founder and Co-CEO of Harry’s and co-founder of Warby Parker, explained how a company’s mission is critical to inspiring their employees: “Selling stuff isn’t a mission – your mission should be much broader.”

Later, the Business Track Luncheon explored the idea of “collective impact,” when organizations across sectors work together around clearly defined goals that help solve complex social problems in communities. Companies play a key role because they can use their best asset – skilled employees – to make a difference.

Mark Kramer, founder and managing partner of FSG, discussed the model as it relates to volunteering.

“Organizations do great work and they help a few people, but they aren’t really solving the problem,” said Kramer. “The problems are so much bigger than one organization – all the organizations that affect an issue need to focus on the same set of goals.”

Continuing the discussion, Points of Light President Tracy Hoover moderated a panel that included Shan Cooper, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics; Scott Schirmeier, executive vice president of The Advisory Board Company; and Ryan Armbruster, vice president of innovation and director of the Human Centered Design Studio at the UnitedHealth Group. (Armbruster and Schirmeier both accepted the 2014 Corporate Engagement Awards of Excellence on behalf of their companies during the Corporate Service Council dinner at the conference on June 16.)

The Points of Light Corporate Institute offers a multitude of resources that help companies collaborate across different sectors and with different organizations. Learn more here

Special thanks to our Business Track sponsors: Arby's Foundation,, Cbeyond, CVC of Atlanta, Delta Community Credit Union, Georgia Natural Gas, Georgia Pacific, Georgia Power Company, IBM, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, LexisNexis, MailChimp, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, The Home Depot Foundation, State Street Corporation, Wells Fargo Atlanta Branch.