Each of us has a relationship with an organization, whether an employer, a business venture, a church, a university. The employment relationship is oftenat the heart of what we accomplish in our careers and how we feel about those accomplishments. Together, the personal relationships we form based upon aset of shared beliefs and behaviors across an organization constitute its culture.
Being in the financial services industry, PIMCO has a culture that is anchored in its mission to serve our clients, placing their interests ahead of ourown. There are strong arguments for having a culture of service in other ways as well.
First, let’s take a closer look at the workplace.
For many working adults, most of our conscious hours are spent either at work, doing work from another location or thinking about work. The workplace andthe people with whom we work form a community. We derive a degree of contentment from the personal bonds of friendship we form with our colleagues, andwhen we succeed together, the sense of achievement is richer.
Yet, it goes further than this. Organizations, like people, have a social consciousness. One way to get an authentic look into a firm’s corporateconscience is to review its approach to service. Approaches vary widely across companies, and factors to look for include the level of support an employerprovides – can employees take time off to serve, for example – and the level of participation across the organization.
Personally, I believe service is transformative. When done well and from the heart, it enriches all involved and any company that directs its efforts toencouraging service will reap benefits from those efforts.
I have been considering this all recently as at PIMCO we recently completed our seventh annual Global Week of Volunteering, in which employees stepped awayfrom their spreadsheets and trading terminals to volunteer around the globe in more than 100 diverse, community projects - from painting murals inCalifornia schoolyards to teaching disabled adults in London how to use a PC. The effort is part of the year-round volunteer initiative spearheaded by thePIMCO Foundation, which was established in 2001 to support nonprofit organizations operating within the firm’s communities.
I am proud that generally about half of our 2,400 employees participate in our corporate volunteer program; that is an impressive participation rate. Yet,I also wonder why they do it.
I am continuously surprised by the hundreds of faces I see at the larger events, including Share the Harvest, around the holidays, and the Special Olympicseach summer. Many of our company’s senior leaders participate, which I believe sets a good example.
Yet, the consistently high level of participation is a sign of greater factors involved, and these factors are why companies should support, facilitate andcommit to service.
Through service, we can bring our whole selves to the office. We increase our creativity, our innovation and our diversity of thought. We stretchourselves, and we become better leaders.
Camaraderie can blossom as colleagues participate together, and they have the opportunity to interact with members of the company that they might neverhave met otherwise. Special friendships are formed, and connectivity is enhanced not only with colleagues but also with our employer and what it standsfor.
The ties can grow even stronger if employees involve their families, which we encourage.
My wife, children and I have participated in events in support of Olive Crest, which provides safe homes for abused, neglected and at-risk children.Mending fences and painting walls, I have hoped to give something back and also have hoped to instill in my children the principle that we must give backto our local community, as we have been fortunate.
I recognize that it may be naïve to believe one can have a meaningful impact on a community in just one week of volunteering. My response is twofold.First, some good is better than none. Second, the initial engagement can lead to lasting involvement. In the best cases, employees are introduced toexperiences and organizations that lead to further involvement and lasting relationships. Simply put, we hope for ripple effects.
I have seen this occur many times with colleagues, and it has happened for my family. For example, we have expanded our involvement with Olive Crest, wheremy wife currently serves as a board trustee of their Orange County chapter.
One more benefit of volunteering ingrained in an organization’s culture, as I believe it to be at PIMCO, is the draw for those entering the workforce.
Looking at our latest generation of new hires and generations that will follow, I readily observe that their ambitions are far more encompassing thancompensation and promotion potential. I see an ambition to join firms that have social consciousness, that sponsor and support their local communities andcontribute to a sustainable world. We want this for our people and for our company, for at the end of the day, our good corporate citizenship is a resultof the efforts and contributions of all.