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goBeyondProfit: Georgia companies are defined in times like these

Riley Blount, Venessa Harrison, Megan McCamey and Juanita Baranco at the goBeyondProfit CEO Forum on April 16, 2019 (Special: goBeyondProfit)

By Maria Saporta

How companies respond during the current Coronavirus pandemic will impact the way they are viewed by employees, customers and the community.

That is the reminder that the leaders of goBeyondProfit want to remind Georgia companies as they try to navigate their companies through the rocky seas of COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s fantastic to be generous in the good times, but truly great companies and leaders will be defined by the generosity they show today – in moments like this,” said Megan McCamey, director of goBeyondProfit, a statewide alliance launched by business leaders for business leaders to spur corporate generosity and improve people’s lives.

The alliance has just published its second annual Corporate Generosity Research Report.

It was based on two simultaneous Georgia-specific surveys which were conducted in February among 500 working adults and 244 senior business leaders. The results compare insights and expectations of Georgia’s employees, consumers and business leaders about corporate citizenship. goBeyondProfit Research Report_FINAL Mar 18_2020

Riley Blount, Venessa Harrison, Megan McCamey and Juanita Baranco at the goBeyondProfit CEO Forum on April 16, 2019 (Special: goBeyondProfit)

Although the surveys were taken before the pandemic had taken hold, goBeyondProfit said the results provide valuable insights on how businesses can operate during these times.

“Generosity doesn’t have to be about dollars,” McCamey said. “Generosity is about how you engage with the community. It’s about the values you live by.”

One of the main takeaways of the study is that Georgians value generosity.

Most executives – 88 percent – said community outreach is “critical” or “important” to their businesses’ overall health. Of those executives who say community outreach is critical to their company’s overall health, 75 percent also said community outreach adds great value to their company’s valuation and finances.

Those sentiments were validated by employees and the community. Nearly half – 49 percent – of the state’s working adults consider corporate generosity when deciding whether to work for or stay with an employer. That was the same percentage as last year’s study.

Strong majorities of Georgians – 73 percent – prefer to buy from companies who are generous to the community. And 53 percent said they would pay more for products from those companies.

New to this year’s study was the expressed desire by working adults to be involved in choosing the causes their companies support.

Essentially half of adults – 49 percent – believe a priority method for picking charitable partners includes employees choosing causes aligned with their own interests and passions.

Close behind, 45 percent believe companies should prioritize customers’ opinions as they select causes.  And nearly as many – 44 percent – think companies should work to address the needs in their local community.

The research also showed there was a disconnect between the way employees perceived the companies compared to the way executives viewed their giving programs.

Patty Tucker, Rick Jackson, Frank Blake and Ed Bastian at the goBeyondProfit CEO Forum on April 16, 2019 (Special: goBeyondProfit)

A resounding 95 percent of senior executives said it’s important that their employees see them involved in and supportive of community outreach, and 67 percent of employees agree it is important.

But 35 percent of employees said they do not see their executives involved and supportive in the community.

McCamey said employees’ familiarity with their company’s causes drives passion and engagement, and that triggers employee retention and loyalty.

Of employees who know a great deal about the causes their company supports, 98 percent are at least somewhat passionate about those causes, while 79 percent are very passionate about them.

While 76 percent of employers say they provide employees with information about the causes they support, 31 percent of employees know little or nothing at all about their employer’s causes.

McCamey said executives need to invite their employees to be involved in the giving process.

“Figure out what they care about, so they feel their voices are being heard,” McCamey said. The more senior executives communicate broadly to employees and customers, the more successful they will be.

“The choices they make today will positively affect the long-term loyalty of their people and the community,” McCamey said.

She pointed to Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, as an excellent example of an executive who excels at communicating his company’s values.

During the pandemic, Bastain published the following tweet:

Crises reveal who you are and what’s important to you. While it’s unsettling what has unfolded over the last 30 days, it’s without a doubt the pride we all take – both employees and customers – in restoring Delta and healing our world, that will allow us to continue to Keep Climbing, together #DeltaProud

“He’s just a perfect example of being visible, authentic and communicating often,” McCamey said. “The character he shows in this crisis is exactly what we are talking about.”

The research was conducted by goBeyondProfit in partnership with Georgia CEO and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. The goBeyondProfit alliance now has 685 members, who learn from one another and strengthen their ability to ensure stronger businesses and healthier communities. There is no cost to join.

To download a copy of the survey, visit www.goBeyondProfit.org.

Image included in Delta CEO Ed Bastian’s recent tweet

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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