A growing number of US employers are closed today for civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, observed as a national holiday on the third Monday in January (this year it happens to coincide with King’s actual birthday). In fact, more employers give their workers the day off for this holiday than for Presidents Day, Veterans Day, or Columbus Day, Bloomberg’s Jordyn Holman and Jeff Green report:
About 42 percent of American employers will close on Jan. 15 in observance of the civil rights leader’s birthday, according to an annual survey by Bloomberg Law. The U.S. stock market is closed, as it is for the slightly less popular Presidents Day. (It is open on Columbus Day and Veterans Day.)
By comparison, the survey found, 34 percent of employers close for Presidents Day, 19 percent for Veterans Day, and 14 percent for Columbus Day. Over 90 percent shut down for “major” holidays like Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Independence Day. The survey also showed a marked divide in how many employers observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day in different industries:
As the year draws to a close, many companies—such as Merck, Xerox, and JCPenney—are publishing their corporate social responsibility reports for 2017, highlighting the CSR activities they have undertaken this year and how they relate to the organization’s overall goals. In judging the impact of a CSR initiative, companies should consider not only how these efforts impact their community, improve organizational sustainability, and advance diversity and inclusion, but also what they mean to employees and customers.
When it comes to employees, candidates today are particularly interested in working for companies that demonstrate a strong commitment to social responsibility, so CSR investments can have a direct benefit in terms of attracting talent. The most innovative companies, however, are designing CSR initiatives that fulfill employees’ demand for volunteer opportunities while also drawing on their professional skills and interests to make that volunteer work more engaging and potentially valuable.
Companies commonly offer opportunities for employees to engage in simple volunteer tasks such as packing boxes of aid for needy households, serving food at a soup kitchen, or cleaning up a public park. These are all valuable acts of community service, but the companies that are having the most success getting employees involved in CSR initiatives are offering them more dynamic and engaging ways to give back.
Here are some of those companies and their methods:
Deloitte partners with nonprofits on projects to provide pro bono consulting or advice, allowing employees to use their professional skills and knowledge to help these organizations have a stronger impact.
Dell uses their Youth Learning program to give underserved youth around the world better access to technology opportunities, including through employees volunteering with nonprofit partners.
Time Warner sponsors employees who participate in public fundraising events such as the Bronx Zoo’s Run for the Wild, and gives out an annual award honoring employees who have made exceptional contributions to public service.
A whopping 75 percent of US workers between the ages of 18 and 34 expect their employer to take positions on social issues affecting the country, such as civil rights, immigration, and climate change, a new survey from Glassdoor finds:
Furthermore, nearly four in five (84 percent) U.S. workers believe companies have an important voice in proposed legislation, regulation and executive orders that could affect the employer’s business or the lives of employees. …
The Glassdoor survey reveals that employees expect employer engagement on timely political and social issues. “Today’s informed candidates want to work for companies that are actively engaged on topics that directly impact their lives and align with their beliefs,” said Dawn Lyon, Glassdoor chief reputation officer and senior vice president of global corporate affairs. “Today’s candidates, especially younger job seekers, want to work at companies that take a stand and take action.”
These findings echo another study released earlier in the year, in which a majority of millennials said they thought CEOs and other business leaders should play an activist role and take public positions on social issues. CEOs are taking notice of this generational change: At the Fortune and Time CEO Initiative conference on Monday, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini remarked on how the millennial generation was changing the role of the CEO:
According to Nooyi, one factor is a changing workforce, which is now heavily populated with millennial workers who want their employers to embrace social issues. “They no longer look at is as [just] a paycheck,” she said. “They look at it as ‘How can I go to work and make a difference in society?’” The Pepsi CEO said that part of a chief executive’s duty today is to ensure that a company’s business goals align with initiatives that make a positive difference in the world. “We had to weave purpose into the core business model of the company,” Nooyi said. …
Many companies try to attract and retain talent with creative, innovative benefits that have special meaning to their business, reflect their values, or respond to the specific needs and interests of their employees. Employees today—not only millennials—are particularly driven by a sense of purpose and the desire to do meaningful work, and some employers are responding to that desire by giving them opportunities to volunteer or put their skills to work for the public good.
IBM, for example, has launched a series of pro bono programs through which it lends employees out to humanitarian projects, letting them apply their coding, engineering, or management skills to solving social challenges throughout the world. Ben Paynter profiled IBM’s initiative at Fast Company last month:
Since 2008, Corporate Service has sent at least 3,500 workers to projects in 40 counties. Projects include working with Coders4Africa in Senegal to provide programmers business training along with technical skills, a disabled rights group in India to open business processing centers that could create more jobs, and finding ways to boost donations and the distribution range of food banks in Latin America. …