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Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy: A Call to Action

ebony beckwith

During this challenging year, I’ve asked myself – what outlasts a pandemic? For years, companies have banked on perks to attract and retain talent. The answer is simple. Values-driven cultures will last the test of time, while trinkets and perks won’t. As our worlds have been turned upside down — the free lunch isn’t what matters.

Throughout my time at Salesforce, I’ve seen how weaving giving back into your culture increases impact. To date, our employees have volunteered more than 5.5 million hours, and we’ve given more than $400 million in grants. Throughout the pandemic, our employees haven’t lost this passion. This culture of giving has stayed true – from reading books to kids in virtual classrooms to socially-distanced food donations.

As businesses, we are rewriting the corporate narrative with every action we take. The current challenges have cemented the importance of a business’s role in corporate citizenship — building resilience into our communities, stimulating the local economy, and righting the social wrongs we’ve inherited.

The role of business as a platform for change will no longer be the exception. Purpose is non-negotiable and will become the new business as usual.

Corporate citizenship is what employees and customers want — they’re even beginning to demand it. In a recent Salesforce survey, a majority of respondents felt it was critical that their work not only help the planet and that their employers give back to the community, but also prioritize addressing global inequalities. And 60% said they trusted businesses to help build a better future for younger generations, a figure that has risen since last fall. It’s sometimes hard to find a signal in all the noise, but numbers like this are crystal clear: modern corporations are expected to actively serve.

Businesses unwilling to lead the fight against COVID-19, combat racial inequality, address homelessness, build equity in education and prepare the labor market for the jobs of the near future will lose talent, customers, and market share.

This Giving Tuesday, I encourage business leaders to rethink their role in building a plan for lasting, sustainable action. Lip service has never been enough but companies can no longer hide behind the status quo. Our communities need us to walk the talk.


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