The purpose of businesses should be more than just making profits, it should also be to bring real change and social impact!
1. Can you tell us about yourself and your career before Benevity?
After confidently declaring that I would never go into marketing, I ended up spending 20 years in marketing – go figure! My entire career has been spent in disruptive tech companies that serve global markets – in payments, stock photography, and more recently in social impact. In these companies, I’ve found my people: humans who are chronically dissatisfied with the status quo, relentlessly focused on creating better solutions, and passionate about leaving the world better than they found it.
2. Could you brief us about Benevity and your role there as Chief Impact Officer?
We call Benevity the “little goodness engine that could.” We are a Canadian-based tech unicorn that has become the leading provider of global corporate purpose software. Our technology enables CSR and HR leaders to engage employees in charitable giving, volunteering, and other pro-social activities, for example, biking to work or educating themselves on racial inequity by watching documentaries, reading books, or joining company events on these topics. Our moonshot is to facilitate one billion acts of goodness with 10 million changemakers in the next few years. It’s a big goal, but we think it’s possible!
We aim to do that by helping companies help their employees and customers become their best selves in their everyday lives by connecting them with a sense of purpose while delivering business and social impact. Our solutions enable companies to incorporate and scale social and environmental action into companies’ employee and customer experiences and make a positive impact in their communities.
As Benevity’s first Chief Impact Officer, I head up Benevity Impact Labs, a social incubator aimed at helping organizations and individuals maximize their impact, leveraging data and insights from Benevity’s community of 940+ world-class brands and nearly two million nonprofits. I also host our podcast, Speaking of Purpose, where I interview top ESG, impact, and executive leaders who are focused on using business as a force for good.
3. What’s your favorite part about working in this industry?
That’s easy! I get to work with the best people at the best companies who are changing the face of capitalism by using companies’ reach and resources to change the world for the better. Honestly, it’s an idea that’s time has come, and I am humbled to be part of a new wave of business and the force behind an increasingly purpose-driven economy.
4. How do you look at the idea of turning social impact into business impact?
First of all, we shouldn’t need a business case for doing good, but the good news is that there are reams and reams of data proving that companies can and should leverage social impact and corporate purpose programs for business impact. Recent Benevity data uncovered that newer employees who donate or volunteer through company programs are 52% less likely to leave the organization. Identifying ways for employees to positively impact the world through social impact initiatives provides employees with a sense of purpose and community, which contributes to improved loyalty and retention for the business overall.
Additionally, social impact has a direct correlation with the employee and consumer trust. Benevity’s State of Corporate Purpose 2022 uncovered that 84% of consumers and 85% of employees agree the more a business engages its consumers in charitable giving decisions, the more trust they have in that business. This provides a competitive advantage for brands and employers as employees are more likely to want to work for them and consumers are more likely to buy from them, both of which directly impact businesses’ bottom lines.
5. How does Benevity software impact the community?
Benevity’s platform gives organizations the platform to mobilize their employees and customers on the issues they care about by showing their commitment to doing the right thing within their community. To date, Benevity has processed more than $10 billion in donations for businesses and supported 46 million hours of volunteer time to contribute to 326,000 nonprofits worldwide.
With Benevity, companies can:
1) Encourage employee and customer participation in giving campaigns to provide aid during crises like the recent floods in Pakistan, Hurricane Ian, and even the protests in Iran and the war in Ukraine.
2) Provide access to millions of nonprofits around the world that employees can give back to with matching dollars or volunteer rewards from their companies, enabling them to amplify their impact. These causes can be everything from the women’s shelter around the corner to global organizations like UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, the WHO Foundation, and more. They can even start their own giving campaigns or volunteer events, and invite teammates to get involved too.
3) Empower learning on critical environmental and social issues through a library of micro-actions that employees can take in their everyday lives or through connecting with members of Employee Resource Groups to become better allies to underrepresented groups, helping to create a stronger sense of community at work.
4) Easily manage and report on social impact investments (corporate grants, product or in-kind donations) and workplace programs (employee giving, matching, and action programs) that support a company’s ESG strategies or B Corp scores.
5) Get access to Benevity’s disbursement platform, which ensures that payments go to nonprofits within the company’s community and around the world with nearly 100% reliability, accuracy, and efficiency.
6. How does your software help form employee resource groups (ERG) at your place of business?
Since the onset of the racial justice movement back in 2020, we’ve all become much more aware of how our unique identities and lived experiences shape our work experiences and careers. According to Benevity data in 2021, 83% of employees said they wanted their employer to prioritize addressing racial injustice, and a key way to get employees involved in these conversations is through employee resource groups (ERGs). As DEI continues to be a critical investment for HR teams, we saw a need for companies to manage these grassroots communities that are growing at an unprecedented rate.
Benevity’s Affinity Groups module launched earlier this year to create a sense of community amongst members of ERGs while providing allies with the opportunity to help make a much-needed social change at work and in their personal lives.
Our software empowers employee resource groups, or what we like to call affinity groups, to scale, manage and track their events, membership, and initiatives. With this new product, employees can create their own social communities online, share content, organize and promote events and manage their membership. The software also helps raise awareness, drive positive change and collective impact on causes the ERGs care about, and communicate those causes and efforts across the entire company.
7. How companies are approaching Benevity software to build employee engagement at their workplace?
As employees – specifically millennials and Gen Zers who make up almost half the workforce in the U.S. – seek purpose, meaning, and impact in the workplace, it’s no surprise that more businesses are looking for ways to infuse this into their company culture. In fact, this purpose is critical to engagement and retention as 31% of employees quit their jobs due to a lack of meaningful work.
Benevity was built with a vision to “democratize goodness” allowing companies not to just rally their people in annual fundraising campaigns, but instead to provide companies with scalable technology that allows them to empower their people to support the causes they care about. It also amplifies that support through matching dollars, volunteer rewards, and social action opportunities in a delightful online and mobile experience. What we’ve seen since we started is that this way of engaging employees in doing good is far more likely to yield participation, engagement, passion, pride, and talent retention – all of which are good for a company’s people and their business.
8. Could you give us a sneak peek into the next growth phase of Benevity, Inc?
We believe the future of work is one of the purpose-driven communities where employees will come together to learn, grow, take action and make a difference together. This is why we are excited to see how CSR and HR come closer together, with ERGs acting as the bridge to drive equity, diversity, and inclusion internally and externally.
We also know that more companies – and their people – want to better understand how they are making an impact, so we are working on some exciting new partnerships that will enable companies to report on their social impact and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives as part of their ESG efforts, while also trying to help employees see how their actions make an impact, too.
9. Which inspires you to achieve more at work?
The thing about being in this sector is that there are no easy, quick wins when it comes to driving DEI or cultural change – and yet there is tremendous urgency to do so. I’ve learned that cultural and social change is long-term work and can often take a generation or more to take hold. So I’ve learned to act with urgency, celebrate every time someone feels like they can make a difference at work, and stay focused on long-term change. It’s not always easy, but it’s what makes life meaningful.
10. What is the most significant piece of advice you would want to give to company leaders?
My biggest piece of advice to company leaders is to not underestimate how important providing your people with a sense of purpose at work already is and will be. In the next three to five years, as millennials and Gen Z take on even more leadership positions, we will see the face of work change forever and purpose and impact will be the driving force for the best workplaces. Companies that want to attract and retain the best and brightest are well advised to invest in creating a culture where people can come to work and make a difference in ways that matter to them.