ForMomentum had the pleasure to interview Alison Lauge, Director of Community Engagement for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and Vice President of The Goodyear Foundation. Last year, Goodyear hosted its first Week of Volunteering with the goal to engage a larger number of associates to volunteer than ever before. They engaged over 1200 employees from six countries in 6,080 hours of service. On top of volunteering, Goodyear is also committed to making STEM education more accessible and exciting. Prior to coming to Goodyear, Alison served as the Director at the Ohio STEM Learning Network where she was responsible for serving as a regional STEM facilitator, which was one factor that made for a natural transition for Alison into her current role.
Keep reading to learn more about Alison and Goodyear’s community engagement efforts. Let’s Take 5 with Alison!
With the start of 2018, what are some CSR trends you expect to see in corporate philanthropy this year? As we begin 2018, one of the CSR trends we expect to address in our work is a streamlined approach to our disaster response, with a greater focus on timeliness and associate engagement. I recently heard on a CSR trends webinar, if you’re trying to make changes or put a disaster response program in place after a catastrophe has occurred, you’re too late. We agree.
Another trend we expect to see more of in 2018 that we’re excited about is skills-based volunteering. We’re noticing more community organizations requesting this type of support, and our associates also get a lot of value in being able to leverage their professional skill sets to benefit non-profits. We’re always happy to help connect our skilled workforce and community organizations to coordinate projects capable of longer lasting outcomes.
From your perspective, what is the biggest challenge facing companies today in implementing CSR programs and partnerships? Every CSR professional wants to help their company make a positive difference with the programs and partnerships they support in the community. One of the biggest challenges we face with organizations and programs we support is adequately measuring the outcomes of this worthwhile work.
What separates an average program from an exceptional one? We want to help support community organizations make their greatest impact in our community. However, not everyone measures the same metrics, the same way, or to the same depth. So, it can be difficult to get consistent data and information about the work we’re doing in our communities; evolving from outputs to outcomes, essentially.
What is Goodyear’s approach to supporting the issue of STEM? Goodyear has a long history of supporting STEM education initiatives. However, over time, we’re looking at our STEM efforts to see how we can better align the various programs and initiatives we support to improve and measure what we’re accomplishing with this work. We want to be able to build a clear pipeline of programs and engagement efforts to reach students not once or twice, but all throughout their educational pathway, in the hopes of inspiring them to see themselves in a STEM career in the future.
Last year, Goodyear held its first Global Week of Volunteering. What were some key learnings from launching that initiative? Don’t underestimate the value of thorough benchmarking and the development of a comprehensive, multi-faceted plan to help with the execution of a new initiative. Our team spoke with a sampling of colleagues with experience in developing and implementing days, weeks and months of volunteering. We took what we considered to be the best pieces of different plans, modified it to fit our company’s culture and size, and incorporated these findings into our overarching, master plan. With so many variables and details to keep in mind with this initiative, our team consistently went back to the plan to ensure we were meeting our objectives and following the timeline to be successful.
Consider all the various in-kind assets your company can fold into the mix of community engagements. When we launched the Global Week of Volunteering, we not only focused on encouraging our associates to get involved out in the community, we also invited nonprofit representatives from the community, in. Goodyear associates taught best-in-class professional development workshops, generally used for associates, for the staff of nonprofit organizations. At no cost to us, we repurposed these workshops to benefit our nonprofit partners and hopefully encouraged lasting change for their teams.
Use technology and apps whenever possible, to help make the execution of these programs easier. We utilized an app (signupgenius) quite extensively to post over 1,000 different volunteer opportunities. This tool not only helped us manage the calendar of opportunities more efficiently but provided a turnkey way for our associates to view opportunities and determine which worked best for their schedules.
Lastly, there is a terrific opportunity to grow your core employee volunteer base by playing the role of connector between employees and community organizations. When we identified our goals for the first Global Week of Volunteering, our hope was to engage more associates as volunteers than ever before. We were successful, largely in part because Goodyear played the role of facilitator. We empowered a core team of associates to serve as liaisons and work with community organizations to plan volunteer events for their colleagues. Then, when associates wanted to give back, it was a straightforward process to sign up and get involved. We ended up growing our core associate volunteer base 75% with this initiative, by playing the role of a connector.
What do you wish people knew about Goodyear’s community engagement efforts? Our company’s legacy of community engagement is part of Goodyear’s DNA. Still, over time, we are evolving what we do in our communities to be more strategic, outcomes-oriented and holistic. With over 60,000 associates globally, we can empower our associates to give back to their communities, and increase our overall impact globally by focusing our efforts in core areas that resonate with our business. And, we can be a better collaborator by including all our assets, most importantly, our associates, into the ways we support and make a better future in our communities.
Five Fun Facts about Alison:
- Favorite App: Insight Timer
- Hobby: Recreating recipes learned while traveling, with my new husband
- Last Book Read: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
- Favorite Place to Unwind: On a beach in Mykonos, Greece
- Guilty Pleasure: Any salted dessert