National Volunteer Week is April 17-23, 2022, and can be a fun, purpose-driven week within a company. The week can provide opportunities across the volunteer continuum from hands-on to skills-based to pro bono consulting and board service – for employees to give back to the causes they care about.
It is a fantastic opportunity to intentionally make progress on your organization’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals. If your organization still keeps DEI and Corporate Social Responsibility in different silos, this is a great opportunity to build an interconnection between these two important corporate functions.
Builds Skills that Can Lead to Career Advancement
The “Prove It Again Bias” often demands that women, people of color, LGBTQIA+, and other historically underrepresented employees have to prove over and over that they have the skills and experience required for promotion. Yet, there may be few opportunities to build those skills within their current role. Planning, organizing, and leading team volunteer events is a powerful way for employees who don’t lead or manage teams in their current roles to develop and then document these skills on their resumes.
Senior Leaders can show allyship by tapping historically underrepresented employees to take leadership roles during National Volunteer Week. Having an intentionally direct conversation about skill development and adjusting workload expectations during the volunteer project can help an employee tapped to lead a project feel supported and recognized for their contributions.
Eases InGroup OutGroup Dynamics
Working together towards a shared goal can help break down ingroup/outgroup dynamics. Generally speaking, there are few opportunities to work side by side, with colleagues from across the organization, on the same project. Intentionally planning volunteer teams to have representatives from across the organization (think sales + manufacturing + customer support all on the same volunteer team) can help build and strengthen relationships across an organization. We know from our research that demographic experience is a meaningful way to disrupt bias in the workplace. Helping facilitate the opportunity for employees to work with people they don’t typically interact with, towards a shared goal, can provide more demographic experience.
Additionally, providing opportunities for different Employee Resource Groups to work on teams together, can also help break down ingroup/outgroup dynamics and provide additional demographic experience.
How DEI Can Help Your CSR Efforts for Volunteer Week and Throughout the Year
The research is clear. Active Corporate Social Responsibility programs build employee engagement and loyalty. But, CSR practitioners, especially those responsible for organizing corporate volunteer events, know firsthand that recruiting volunteers is often no easy task. And, that frequently, it’s the same faces time and time again who participate. Intentionally partnering with DEI practitioners who have specific goals, such as increasing retention and promotion of historically unrepresented employee groups, can expand the pool of active volunteers for CSR programs while building engagement and commitment to the company.
- Volunteer Match: General Volunteer Events
- Taproot Foundation: Pro Bono Volunteering Expertise
- Catch A Fire: Skill Based Volunteer Projects
- Board Source: Board Service Training and Opportunities
- Volunteer Programs That Employees Can Get Excited About: HBR Article about effective Corporate Volunteer Programs