CSR Stakeholder Call Summary: June 11th Scaling Sustainable Change Dialogue

Earlier this week, Timberland hosted a CSR Stakeholder Call about how to scale local community engagement efforts. Timberland’s VP of CSR Mark Newton was joined by Chuck Bennett, VP of Earth & Community Care at Aveda for a stimulating discussion about employee engagement, extending volunteerism up and down the supply chain, and how to scale efforts through collaboration and partnership.

Corporate community engagement

Did you know that 2012 is the 20th Anniversary of Timberland’s Path of Service™ program?  Path of Service is our employee volunteer program, which provides Timberland staff up to 40 paid hours for community service.  When the program was started, the idea of giving employees paid time off to perform community service was unconventional. Through this program Timberland offers our most valuable resource – our employees’ time – to engage in the communities where we live and work.

What was unique in 1992 is not so today; many companies now offer similar programs, and we’re fortunate to be informed and inspired by many of them – including Aveda, whose employee engagement program was outlined on this week’s call.

What’s the value of these community engagement efforts? We know our commitment to community engagement helps us retain employees and contributes to a healthy corporate culture. In our last global employee survey, 67% of employees reported that our Path of Service™ program plays a strong role in their decision to work at Timberland.

Extending up and down the supply chain

Just as we’ve seen increased employee development, attraction and retention inside our own company, we have encouraged and supported factories that produce our products to serve their local communities as well. See Timberland’s Responsibility site for examples of this engagement in factories in China.

We also have opportunity to engage business partners in service. By inviting others to join with us, we inevitably increase our impact. In fact, in 2011, 40% of the volunteers at Timberland-sponsored service events worldwide were business partners, and we hope to increase that percentage in 2012.  Whether we’re working together to transform a school, build community gardens, or plant trees, we know that the bonds formed through service are more powerful than simply taking a customer out to dinner. Some of these organizations have even formed their own community engagement programs!

Consumer engagement

On the call, both Timberland and Aveda discussed opportunities to extend their community engagement efforts to their consumers and retail partners. For Timberland, our 20th anniversary of Path of Service™ presents a unique opportunity to invite these important stakeholders to join us. Timberland Taiwan is leading the way (with over 3,000 hours served by consumers and employees to date!), and we aim for other regions to also engage their consumers this year.

We were inspired to learn more about Aveda’s Serve from the Heart program, whereby Aveda provides grants to retail stores to invest in their local community organizations of their choosing – and store employees are also encouraged to volunteer. And there’s no doubt that Aveda’s Earth Month campaign is having a profound impact: in 2011, the company exceeded its goal of raising $4 million for global and clean water projects.

The importance of collaboration and partnership

Clearly, neither Timberland nor Aveda could successfully engage these local communities without their employees, business partners, consumers, and local community members. For Timberland, we’re always willing to share our experience – organizations looking to run their own service events might find some helpful tips in our Community Service Toolkit.

If you missed this week’s call and want to hear more, you can listen to the entire podcast here.  Learn more about Timberland’s community engagement efforts and stay tuned for opportunities to continue the conversation at http://responsibility.timberland.com.

  • http://www.cleanwateraction.org/ Jon Scott

    I was privileged to be on this call representing Clean Water Fund, a long-time Earth Month partner for Aveda in CA, MN, PA and New England. This experience and the Aveda partnership model centered around Earth Month has many positive aspects. First it is part of a continuum, with Aveda and its employees providing year-round support via Earth Share (a vehicle for employee engagement and philanthropy). Second, the Earth Month partnership is further enhanced through substantial in-kind donation of Aveda products for partner use beyond Earth Day. What is most exciting though is the opportunities provided for Earth Month partner NGOs to connect directly with Aveda-affiliated staff, managers, leaders and the Aveda client/customer base through a variety of fun and inspiring activities. These diverse and energetic individuals, teams and communities all come together to raise awareness and funds in ways that ignite shared passion around our Clean Water cause. Having fundraising as one key element provides a powerful and motivating means for encouraging and measuring impact. Given that some of the biggest clean water challenges today relate to awareness — people taking our clean water for granted — the fundraising success functions as an exceptionally effective surrogate for measuring impact. Since anyone can participate and bring their own creative energies to these activities, involvement is open to everyone connected to the Aveda community rather than limited to those with narrow specialized skill sets or environmental interests.
    It was so exciting to see Timberland and its new parent company exploring ways to refresh and expand on its impressive track record for employee engagement. We think the approach taken by Aveda offers some great examples for how Timberland might further its CSR and employee engagement aims and would welcome the opportunity to explore this further with Timberland and other companies. Aveda’s current focus on water is an especially compelling one which meets huge needs and resonates strongly with almost everyone.

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