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Giving Tuesday: Reflecting on Need for Breadth and Depth in Community Engagements to Drive More Meaningful Impact

2021-11-30  |  7 min read 

Giving Tuesday celebrates acts of generosity such as philanthropy, volunteerism, kindness and support efforts, and partnerships for good. And while such activities happen year-round, having this one day dedicated to the topic provides the opportunity to look back and be grateful for the progress made, while considering where to go next.

As such — and in my role as chairman of the Keysight Foundation and executive sponsor of the company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) program — I always take this time of year to consider the role of corporate engagement in community prosperity. Last year in honor of Giving Tuesday, I contemplated the 3 approaches Keysight utilizes in this space. This year I've been reflecting on the need to consider the depth, breadth and focus of specific community engagements.

The orchestra of community prosperity

If the pandemic and recent climate impacts have taught us anything these last couple years, it is that we are all in this together! And by this, I mean the global community. The prosperity of our collective community isn't the job of any one individual, organization, corporation, or government entity. It is all of our responsibility together and each of us have a role to play. Like a harmonious orchestra, we each make positive progress in focused areas with varying impacts that, when viewed collectively, drive forward community prosperity.

In the corporate giving and volunteerism space, the role companies play can vary, and even change from year to year. In response to COVID-19 many corporations, Keysight included, focused on the immediate health and human services needs of local communities. Donations of funds, personal protective equipment (PPE), and janitorial products to health organizations were critical to reach as many people as possible with exactly what they needed at that time. In addition, the swift move of schools to remote and hybrid experience drove STEM education support to online curriculum, virtual engagement, and equity in digital access efforts. And while in-person employee volunteerism was not viable during the worst times of the pandemic, employee volunteers did what they could from home with online mentoring and individual efforts such as mask-making and virtual human services check-ins.

These actions were a quick pivot from traditional corporate community programs to address immediate needs around the world. With that said, I don’t believe companies will fully return to pre-pandemic community engagement models. With technology development and new learnings, we have the opportunity to create a crisper hybrid that drives more focused and meaningful impact.

Breadth and depth to drive more meaningful impact

Looking forward, corporations have the opportunity to reset annual community engagement plans with a sharper focus on meaningful and targeted impact. This is where breadth and depth of engagements can enable more focused outcomes.

For example, the pandemic’s impact on education clearly pulled back the curtain on equity in access to technology and STEM learning around the world. As such, Keysight launched pilots targeting online STEM curriculum access for under-resourced communities. In addition to supporting the immediate need, these pilots offered the opportunity to broaden Keysight’s reach to under-represented minorities in traditionally under-resourced communities, which in turn aligns with our corporate diversity goals. It is important to increase the funnel for a diverse and skilled future workforce by reaching more students early in their education to spark interest in STEM careers. In this approach, we utilize breadth of reach in support of a specific meaningful outcome of sparking STEM career interest in underrepresented and under-resourced communities with the intent of driving a more diverse STEM workforce in the future. This, in-turn, leads to more prosperous communities.

A mixture of breadth and depth might also be the right approach. Many companies have employee charitable matching programs, which can be a great example of both breadth and depth of impact. At Keysight, for example, we call this our Giving Program. However, rather than donating to a limited number of charities, Keysight matches individual employee donations to approved 501c3s dollar-for-dollar in North America. Outside North America, we utilize site-based giving efforts aligned to local needs and employee expectations. With more than 14,000 employees helping direct our corporate charitable giving we are able to broaden the reach of Keysight philanthropic donations across multiple organizations. At the same time, we are able to simultaneously give to very targeted organizations identified by employees as important to them, thereby offering a depth of impact as well. In this case, if an individual employee gives their full threshold of donation to one organization, Keysight’s matching of that donations could result in a particularly significant and deep positive impact on that organization. It’s a great match (no pun intended) between breadth and depth of charitable giving toward more meaningful impact.

Looking forward in corporate community engagement by learning from the past

As we look forward to the next development in community engagement, I encourage technology companies to consider the depth, breadth and focus of their programs. This Giving Tuesday is a great time to reflect on corporate community engagement approaches to consider more meaningful community impacts based on learnings from the last couple years.