Most of 2020 has been spent navigating uncharted waters full of difficult decisions and rapidly changing dynamics. But in no way does this mean that a company’s role as a community partner and social advocate takes a back seat. In fact, if you share my belief that resolving COVID-19 and bringing broader change to society requires a partnership between private, public, and government entities, now is the time to step up. That doesn’t mean we all need to stop worrying about P&Ls, payroll, or the other responsibilities we have as business leaders, but rather that we thoughtfully consider how our teams can contribute. At Headstorm, we found tech-focused opportunities like educating high schoolers about AI and helping cities optimize public spaces left underutilized due to the pandemic. I advise finding that sweet spot between what you can afford to contribute and where your team can drive the most impact.
- Remember your vision. Your firm may already have a commitment to social responsibility written into a vision statement or other formal document. Does your team resonate with that vision? If so, find out what they care about and how much they are willing to pitch in. If not, it’s time to rally the troops and have a conversation about your firm’s give-back culture.
- You can’t do it alone. Meaningful change is rarely accomplished by one individual. Your business network and local organizations have amazing folks with experience in social advocacy and charitable efforts. A phone call with one of these advocates can unlock unique perspectives on how and where you can invest your time. You’ll also want to engage your team early to create dialogue and build interest for upcoming efforts. Initial discussions will quickly reveal who you can rely on as advisors, volunteers, and partners.
- Start small, be effective. Once you have a list of causes that resonate with your staff, and an idea of how your team’s expertise can translate to value for a cause, get started. Local communities and organizations have plenty of resources (and needs) that can help you figure out what makes the most sense for your business.
- Be agile. After starting an initiative, gather feedback and data to see if your investment makes sense. Remember, the equation is impact versus effort. Is the team fulfilled with the chosen causes? Is meaningful change being created? How much time is being spent across the various initiatives? Form a committee to gather and present these data points on a regular basis.
Lawrence King is founder and CEO of Headstorm, a data and software firm based in Addison.