Avaya’s Month of Giving—Supporting Humanity at its best
Purpose-driven marketing is important—there are many compelling reasons why brands need to identify their authentic purpose. Millennials expect it; gen-Z demands it. It’s good business so companies would be wise to respond. While I agree with this, I’m here to say there’s a bigger reason why companies must invest in corporate responsibility: it’s the humane thing to do. Let’s face it, the important role humanity plays in the evolution of our species has been greatly diminished recently thanks to the divisive and polarizing political culture in which we’re living. Working together, we can change that!
The official definition of humanity is compassionate or benevolent behavior and it’s characterized by some of the most beautiful words in the English language: kind, considerate, understanding, sympathetic, tolerant, merciful, gentle, tender, charitable, caring, and warmhearted. These are all noble qualities that, I believe, each of us aspires to every single day but sometimes find ourselves caught up in incivility and unpleasant conversations. We may react emotionally and take positions that go against who and what we are at our core, but these don’t really define us. We’re better. We’ve always been better. And we prove this time and again when we rise to meet significant challenges. A recent example is the We Are Still In declaration—a promise to reduce emissions and stem the causes of climate change. This is humanity at its finest.
Cone Communications published a study about corporate social responsibility. In their reporting, they stated that “Companies must now share not only what they stand for, but what they stand up for.” A couple of interesting stats from that same study: 63% of consumers are looking to businesses to take the lead on social and environmental change, 78% of people want companies to address social justice issues. To me, this research underscores how we really see ourselves and all that we aspire to be.
Avaya Month of Giving
I’m thrilled to be a part of a company that understand this. All of our efforts are focused on building a compassionate culture on the inside and then taking that compassion back out into the communities where we live and do business (our HR head Faye Tylee recently contributed a nice blog on the evolution of our company culture). At the heart of this work is our annual Month of Giving—31-days of volunteering and fundraising across our company. This initiative began in 2015, and since then, we’ve logged thousands of volunteer hours and raised almost a million dollars for non-profit charities around the world. We’re set to do it again beginning October 1 and I’m excited.
We have close to 100 group and individual projects lined up to support non-profit organizations across the globe: bake sales in Frankfurt, food collections in Morristown, nature reserve and beach clean-up activities in Santa Clara and Dalian, home building in Thornton, and a charitable basketball tournament in Guilford. Our South Africa team is supporting a settlement school, and our Avaya India employees have several projects lined up country-wide. Our Law and Marketing teams are also coordinating fundraising and fitness activities for Doctors Without Borders, and we’ve coordinated many opportunities for our virtual community to give back.
New this year is our Matching Gifts program, where Avaya will match dollar for dollar up to $15,000 for our global charity partner Save the Children. This program continues our tradition of supporting education by building classrooms where there are none. This year, the money we raise will benefit Uganda, helping to ensure that hard-to-reach children can attend and stay in school. There’s literally something for every employee to touch throughout the month, and they will!
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with Florida (U.S.) State Representative Kristin Jacobs. We talked about how she was able to get two controversial bills passed as a minority member of her state legislature. She said she built rapport on multiple sides of the political aisle. (What a concept!) Her thinking was that if you stand at a podium and grandstand, throwing political bombs at your colleagues, you’ll never be able to convince anyone to hear or support your bill. “We must put aside our differences and learn to work together,” she said.
Jacobs was referring to politics, but her advice really extends to all of us. Working together is the fuel that delivers sustainable results. And the only way to truly improve the world is by working together. This is what makes Avaya’s Month of Giving special: 8,000 people coming together and putting aside our differences to focus only on our commonalities and to make humanity great again. When we do this, together we succeed in bringing medical care, water, food, clothing, shelter, education, joy and love to the world’s most disadvantaged countries and people, which for me is profoundly inspiring and motivating.