It’s hard to imagine CEOs being directly involved in giving back to their communities. We know some do it, but we know the number is still relatively small; of the ones that do, employees don’t often get to see their level of involvement because it’s difficult to share without appearing self-serving. Along the way, employees can begin to associate wealth with apathy. Too frequently, the more money someone makes, the more removed they are from society — until a situation impacts them.
This is sadly the case with some CEOs, but there are fortunately many great exceptions and examples. Last year, Patagonia put $10 million in tax cuts back into the community. CEO Rose Marcario was very vocal about this decision, stating in a LinkedIn post, “Based on last year’s irresponsible tax cut, Patagonia will owe less in taxes this year. We are responding by putting $10 million back into the planet because our home needs it more than we do.” Intuit donated $2 million to food banks in regions most impacted by government closures in support of U.S. federal workers. As the race to reverse climate change escalates, I am continuing to enmesh myself more with conservation efforts, even directly supporting the governor of California with his mission. I want to be a positive contributor in a climate that currently has a lot of division and unrest.
Generosity among leaders isn’t dead. In fact, it’s becoming a stamp of a good leader. We already know there are benefits to giving back. While generosity is altruistic at its core, employees and leaders both stand to get something out of it as well.
Be a leader worth working for
Generosity and greatness go hand in hand. If a leader gives back to their community, it’s because they care more about people than they do with lining their own pockets. The value they place on others extends to their employees, who they will influence to do the same. Generosity inspires a more impactful company mission, it creates a better workplace for employees, and it benefits the local and global communities.
Employees want to work for a company they can buy into. If charitable giving is part of that, they are more likely to find purpose there, which means they are more likely to stay – 37 percent of employees feel more connected to their company’s culture and over 57 percent of people see an increase in team morale. That’s because employees with purpose are 14 times more likely to be excited about coming into work.
Every year, Fortune puts out a 50 Best Workplaces For Giving Back list that praises the most charitable companies of the year. But this list isn’t just a culmination of financial giving, it also takes employees’ overall sense of happiness into consideration as well. A NuStar Energy employee, for example, cited that their job satisfaction comes more from giving back than it does from how much they are paid.
When your team is happy and engaged, they are more productive and are more likely to want to grow with your company. If you think the importance of generosity is just a passing fad, you’re wrong. Younger generations only want to work for corporations that dedicate themselves to being a positive influence on the community and world at large.
How generosity leverages better leadership
Some leaders are so focused on company growth and profitability that they end up neglecting the most important asset of their organization: their team. Leaders who know the importance of being involved in society’s present issues are more likely to be present in their internal operations and environment.
Generosity forces leaders to be less self-absorbed. Typically, when there is an employee or culture problem at an organization, it’s because its leaders were self-involved for so long that they failed to recognize the disengagement and distress unfolding right under their noses. Just as generous leaders ask how they can give back to the greater good, they also ask how they can give back to their employees. We admire our employees’ talents and drive and want to protect them at all costs.
Money does not excuse you from being an active participant in your community. When you demonstrate your generosity, employees will likely follow in your footsteps, creating a ripple effect of generosity. And that’s what the world needs more of.