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Organizations that Support The Triple Bottom Line Foster Remarkable People
by Caela Farren, Ph.D., MasteryWorks, Inc.



The search for meaning is a search for clarity and purpose in our individual lives and our organizational missions.The Importance of Meaning in Our Lives
and Organizations

Meaning comes in many forms. For some individuals, it may be helping to find a cure for disease, or drilling for clean water in third world countries or organizing a food drive to help reduce hunger. For others, it may be mentoring colleagues at work or simply putting away enough money to send children to college. The search for meaning is a search for clarity and purpose in our individual lives and our organizational missions.

In their new book, The Why of Work, Dave and Wendy Ulrich believe work is more productive and the workplace more abundant and satisfying when employees are engaged with hands as well as hearts. “When leaders make work meaningful, they help create abundant organizations where employees operate on a value proposition based on meaning as well as money. Meaning becomes a multiplier of employee competence and commitment, a leading indicator of customer share, a source of investor confidence, and a factor in ensuring social responsibility in the broader community. ….An abundant organization is a work setting for which individuals coordinate their aspirations and actions to create meaning for themselves, value for stakeholders and hope for humanity.” [1] The Ulrichs believe abundant organizations empower corporate social responsibility.

What Is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a corporate commitment to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce, their families and the community at large. CSR is a concept where an organization takes responsibility for its impact on society, its own prosperity and the environment as a result of its decisions and activities. This is often referred to as, “the triple bottom line - people, planet, and profit.

Responsible, sustainable and transparent values contribute to the triple bottom line, help build brand and reputation, and help strengthen the community and therefore the marketplace. A solid business plan, embedded into the business culture, reflecting organizational values and objectives through strategic CSR application, will help to build a sustainable and profitable future for all. http://www.mpiweb.org/About/CSR

The Importance of Fostering Social Responsibility
Organization leaders and managers recognize that Corporate Social Responsibility counts Such social responsibility produces purposeful work for employees, improves engagement and retention metrics and increases the triple bottom line. Ultimately, CSR becomes an essential part of a mission statement. Companies select projects, choose volunteers, and contribute capital and materials to support meaningful goals. The Great Place to Work Institute and Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For present a cross-section of organizations committed to CSR projects. For example, the Boston Consulting Group’s Social Impact Practice Network offers a chance to work with the U.N. World Food Program and Save the Children. Dreamworks Animation SKG organizes teams for a Pediatric AIDS Triathlon and the AIDS Project Walk and contributes to the Motion Picture and Television Fund. Patagonia is dedicated to improving the environment. Bridgeway Investments helps eliminate genocide by partnering with non-profits to ensure safety for everyone regardless of family, tribe, religion, location, or skin color to stop racial and religious genocide – and the list goes on. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2010/full_list/

These organizations function through systemic corporate sponsorship, without necessarily addressing or supporting individual employees’ visions of what’s most important or meaningful. Sometimes public pressure and scientific concern play an active role. For example, in 2004 and 2005, Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase responded to external pressure from environmental organizations and shareholders to stop financing projects in endangered or high conservation value forests or where illegal logging is occurring. Likewise, Goldman Sachs was the first global investment bank to adopt a comprehensive environmental policy, acknowledging the scientific consensus on climate change and calling for urgent action by public policy makers and federal regulators to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Organizations Fueling Remarkable People
Many organizations provide autonomy, education and opportunity to increase organizational capability. For example, Google organizes autonomous idea teams and down time to develop outstanding software apps; Apple provides internal design team competition and rewards; Microsoft rewards innovative ideas in its organization; Accenture generates new ideas and apps; and Toyota goes to the head of class in fostering internal efficiency and design simplicity. Although organizations encourage employees to build a better mousetrap, they’re not always rewarding them for helping the homeless, feeding the hungry or teaching the illiterate to read. Ordinary workers have nowhere to turn to support their own passionate causes. They are too often left on their own.

Organizations have never been historically geared to turning ordinary people into remarkable people to pursue their own visions of a meaningful life. Companies choose the CSR projects for their organizations, often casting aside what may be passionate causes for individual employees. Again, meaning comes in many forms. Corporate projects promote worthwhile causes, but don’t necessarily support ordinary employee’s views for their own meaningful pursuits. It’s disappointing that many companies narrowly limit their CSR to a few special projects and don’t support an ordinary employee’s idea of handing out blankets to the homeless on freezing nights or feeding the hungry at Thanksgiving. On the one hand, companies sponsor hundreds, if not thousands of employees, who bring to each organization innovation and profit, but all too often fail to support or foster the development of remarkable people, who want to pursue individual meaningful projects as a part of their jobs. Such remarkable employees are eventually left with a choice; stay on and participate in the company’s CSR programs or leave and follow their own heart.

Corporate employees are frequently left on their own to fulfill their vision. For example, electrical engineer, Philip Kao had to leave his corporate job for one year on a self-funded journey through countries in Asia and Central America to learn firsthand about various water issues unique to each place, and how to implement solutions that directly help people meet their most basic need through efficient clean water engineering. http://www.ordinaryppl.org/projects/hydrophilic

Another example is Kiva founder Jessica Jackely and her former husband, who struggled for years with a vision to create a micro-funding project for the poor. Eventually, they had to leave their jobs to start Kiva, which has provided financing to nearly a half million entrepreneurs in 209 countries by connecting aspiring entrepreneurs with lenders. Their success has improved the lives of millions of people around the globe. http://www.kiva.org/

Remarkable people look for corporate sponsorship to make their communities and the world a better place. These are generally the most engaged people in the organization, innovative and with vision, - committed to finding meaning in the workplace When their organizations do not support their visions, they leave to follow their dreams and all too often being nearly impossible to replace.

How to Support Remarkable People
We all know that organizations often risk losing their most talented people if they don’t have a mechanism to respond to employees’ views of meaning within their jobs and lives. Although organizations can’t realistically support every employee’s vision of meaning inside and outside the workplace, companies can and should respond to employees’ needs to participate in socially redeeming causes. At little or no cost, companies can establish Good Cause Committees to support employees’ visions; maintain Worthy Bulletin Boards to connect projects with people; they can create a Remarkable People Corner showcasing their most remarkable employees doing their remarkable work. Organizations that seek to retain their most engaged and innovative employees will find ways to support their most remarkable people. Will you help?

Summary
Within organizations, meaningful work is a multiplier of employee competence, commitment and hope for humanity. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a concept where a company takes responsibility for its impact on society, its own prosperity and the environment to help build its reputation and help strengthen the community. CSR produces purposeful work for employees, improves engagement and retention metrics and increases the triple bottom line. Nonetheless, corporate employees are frequently left on their own to fulfill their vision. Companies should respond to employees’ needs to participate in socially redeeming causes. At little or no cost, companies can establish Good Cause Committees to support employees’ visions; they can create a Remarkable People Corner showcasing their most remarkable employees doing their remarkable work. Organizations that seek to retain their most engaged and innovative employees will find ways to support their most remarkable people. What is your organization doing to support the humanitarian visions of remarkable people?

References
1. The Why of Work, Dave and Wendy Ulrich, McGraw Hill, 2010, p 4


About the Author
Caela Farren, Ph. D.
, is President of MasteryWorks, Inc., - a leading Career Development consulting organization offering innovative solutions to large and mid-size companies, including Sony, Northrop Grumman, Bayer, Lockheed-Martin and Capitol One. MasteryWorks provides enterprise web portals, training, consulting, and an assessment framework for employees and managers. For more than thirty years, Dr. Farren has been a passionate leader around complex issues redefining the workplace. She envisioned the current workplace climate more than a dozen years ago, when she published a cornerstone compendium on career selection, “Who is Running Your Career: Creating Stable Work in Unstable Times” (Bard Press, 1997). Through MasteryWorks, Inc., she oversees solutions that create the foundation for impact-filled “career conversations” - centered on increased contribution, performance, and fit. Her strategic approach consistently delivers on employee engagement and retention goals for her clients. Visit www.masteryworks.com or contact Tom Karl, Executive Vice President for more information - tkarl@masteryworks.com or (703) 256-5712.



MasteryWorks, Inc.
2230 George C Marshall Drive, Suite 122 Falls Church, Virginia 22043 USA 800-229-5712 www.masteryworks.com