HomeCorporate Social ResponsibilityPhilip Kenley, Salesforce: When volunteering, we let our employees follow their passions

Philip Kenley, Salesforce: When volunteering, we let our employees follow their passions

Philip Kenley, Senior Manager, Employee Engagement Programs, at Salesforce, believes that employees should be empowered to choose the causes they volunteer for, and that companies forming long-term partnerships with entities that they can provide support for is the winning path towards having a greater impact on the world. Here are some of his insights into employee volunteering and best practices around that topic:

Salesforce is quite well immersed in the philanthropy space. How do you choose what causes to support or tools to develop/offer?

Philip Kenley: Mainly, it is our employees that choose. They are at liberty to volunteer for almost any cause they wish. From scout groups to community groups, schools and hospices. Many of our employees have causes that they are passionate about, and we let them follow their passions.
That said, we also have a core set of organisations that we volunteer for, that lend themselves to corporate volunteering. It is surprisingly difficult to find partners that can both accommodate large groups of volunteers, and provide a meaningful, impactful and busy day for our volunteers. We have about a dozen of such organisations in the UK that we use regularly. Furthermore, we also have a strategic focus around supporting education and workforce development, and consequently, we work with a core group of partners that can deliver impact in these areas.

Clients and stakeholders are more and more interested in a company’s CSR and sustainability initiatives. What has Salesforce been doing to meet that increased interest?

Philip Kenley: I am proud to say that we have been ahead of the game here. Our volunteering initiatives have been with us since the company was founded and we have not had to alter them to meet the changing trends that are affecting how others approach their CSR. We are fortunate that we have a reputation as a socially conscious organisation and have delighted in being a role model for other companies to replicate.

What are your plans in the space in the short to medium term, and what do you think will be the main trends we will experience generally when it comes to philanthropy?

Philip Kenley: We do have a core focus area that we call Future Ready – this is the focus on preparing school-aged children and young adults for the world of work. We believe that everyone, no matter where they are from, has a right to participate in the digital economy and many of our programs are dedicated to supporting this vision. We will continue to develop opportunities and partnerships that focus on this area.

How did you come to work with Astriid and what are the lessons learned from working with them that you could replicate with other charities?

Philip Kenley: Astriid was an employee-led initiative. As I mentioned, we do not prescribe where our employees direct their volunteering, and such, this initiative was entirely led by a large team at Salesforce. The lesson learned is that any strong partnership needs strong and consistent leadership and that, if we pool our resources, and come together as a team we can achieve great things.

What does the business environment need in order to become more involved in the CSR/sustainability space?

Philip Kenley: I think it is the pressure from stakeholders that ultimately is the driver of real change. Customers and employees will, evermore, demand that companies share the same societal values as themselves. It is a competitive world out there, both with respect to selling our products and also for hiring the best talent. Both customers and potential employees have a choice, and therefore it is imperative that organisations meet their expectations, if they want to remain competitive.
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