How organizations are advancing ESG during Earth Day and National Volunteer Month
A round-up of what top companies are doing, from encouraging reusable cups and tree planting to offering paid volunteer time for employees to pursue their passions.
Amanda Ponzar is the chief communications & strategy officer at CHC: Creating Healthier Communities. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
National Volunteer Month, Earth Month, and Earth Day on April 22 make this a great time to focus on how your team can make a positive impact on the planet while advancing your environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities. In these turbulent times when polarization is at an all-time high, volunteering brings people together for the common good while benefiting business with increased morale, retention, and skills development.
Here’s a round-up of what top companies on CHC: Creating Healthier Communities’ Corporate Leadership Council are doing, from encouraging reusable cups and tree planting to offering paid volunteer time for employees to pursue their passions.
For Starbucks, April is Global Month of Good, where partners around the world give back. Starbucks Community Champions are supporting Starbucks’ ESG efforts throughout the month by taking action in the community as volunteers, encouraging customers to opt for a reusable cup in-store and joining the Partners for Sustainability partner network (employee resource group) to share sustainability ideas. Starbucks team members also fight hunger year-round by collecting surplus pastries and fresh food to donate to local food banks through the company’s FoodShare program.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) encourages all team members to be a “Force for Good,” giving new employees a free $25 credit to donate to a good cause and encouraging volunteering during onboarding. HPE employees receive 60 hours of paid volunteer leave, including increased hours for employees in Europe due to the war in Ukraine. The HPE Foundation also matches employees volunteer hours with $10-$20 USD, encouraging high-skill activities like pro bono and board volunteerism to tap into unique expertise and deepen impact. HPE also facilitates volunteering that aligns with the company’s strategic social impact priorities, plus provides community impact grants to ensure team members can invest locally.
Wells Fargo connects employee volunteer groups – known as Employee Impact Teams – to the focus areas of the Wells Fargo Foundation, such as creating affordable, sustainable homes and communities. During Earth Month, the company prioritizes connecting employees to local environmental volunteer projects such as community clean-ups and tree plantings. Volunteer service raises employee awareness of sustainable and social impact opportunities and can be aligned to Wells Fargo priority areas or leveraged for team building and networking. Wells Fargo provides up to 16 hours of paid volunteer time annually, finding employee volunteer programs contribute to overall employee satisfaction, recruitment and retention. Multiple studies also have proven that service enhances physical and mental wellbeing, lowers stress, and provides a sense of personal enrichment and satisfaction.
For FedEx, volunteering connects with both the “S” and “E” in ESG. FedEx met its goal to impact 50 million people by their 50th birthday in April 2023. Their new mission is to become carbon neutral by 2040. To do this, FedEx is always looking for opportunities for employees to leverage their unique skills around the world. Volunteering, especially skills-based, increases team members’ sense of pride and purpose. During the pandemic, FedEx employees helped the fire department in their headquarters city determine the most effective and efficient way to get the vaccine to homebound residents, considering temperature requirements and medication expiration windows, wait times, and more. FedEx also supports Orbis, a blindness prevention NGO that operates the world’s only Flying Eye Hospital, providing maintenance, volunteer pilots, ground support, translation help, and in-kind shipping for vital equipment and medicines.
At Fiserv, the company’s “Fiserv Gives Back” program encompasses volunteering, corporate gifts, in-kind donations and overall community responsibility. Providing opportunities for meaningful engagement and purpose creates a virtuous cycle of purpose-driven, high-performing teams. Research is clear— engaged employees perform better, are less likely to quit, and more likely to delight clients. This motivated workforce helps smart companies win the talent war and succeed.
As part of Fiserv’s ESG strategy, the company seeks to provide economic and shared value – moving money in a way that moves the world. Employee volunteering helps associates pursue personal purpose and invest in their communities. This generosity and civic spirit are renewable resources that only get stronger with use. Volunteering and social impact are essential for today’s companies which are not only measured by what they do—but also how they do it.
A parting thought
Volunteer engagement is just one tool to support a company’s ESG goals. Employees can volunteer with programs that support both community-focused outcomes and positive environmental outcomes, such as planting native trees and increasing biodiversity, says Jerome Tennille, strategist at Uplift and former Marriott volunteer lead.
In this digital era where virtual volunteer engagement has become the norm, the needs in our communities still require human interaction. You can’t virtually dial in to plant trees, says Tennille. Corporate volunteer programs continue to be a powerful way to get employees into communities, creating connections and driving social and environmental progress.