Beyond business: How two Bay Area companies joined forces for the greater good

As we recognize the one-year anniversary of the Tubbs wildfire that directly impacted Keysight headquarters, 1,500 of our local employees and the Sonoma County community, I am reminded of the days directly following that fire and how far we’ve come since. Certainly, there was devastation and tragedy, but there have also been learnings, progress and new relationships forged – with both community organizations and other local corporations.

In fact, recently and for the first time, Keysight partnered on a local community volunteer effort with another San Francisco Bay Area technology company, Salesforce. When they reached out to us about opportunities to support North Bay-area communities impacted by fires, we thought it was a great opportunity to collaborate. And as a result, Salesforce employees joined Keysight’s Annual Day of Caring in Sonoma County, which offered them local volunteer opportunities and enabled us to complete two additional community projects in the process. It was a great way to mark our first Day of Caring event post-Tubbs fire and a noteworthy example of corporate partnerships going beyond business relationships and into supporting recovery and improvement efforts in local communities.

Joining Forces

It started as an inquiry from John Hislop, Director of Customer Success at Salesforce, a customer relationship management platform company headquartered in San Francisco. He reached out to me in March, asking how we could partner to support the recovery of local communities impacted by wildfires. I was intrigued by the idea of extending our business partnership into community efforts, thereby increasing our collective social impact locally. I committed to identifying an opportunity and getting back to him.

Following that initial outreach, I started planning our Keysight Day of Caring -- an annual event connected to The United Way of the Wine Country’s Days of Caring efforts and our headquarter site’s single biggest one-day volunteer event each year. As I considered the approach and relation to charitable services in the impacted region of the Tubbs fire, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for John and his Salesforce team to get involved. With our September event being the first since the Tubbs fire broke out, it provided a good link between community recovery and improvement. Extending the event to Salesforce employees provided both companies an opportunity to broaden the social impact of technology corporations in the Bay Area right here in our own back yard. John and his team agreed, and what resulted is what I would call a winwin!

Win for the community

With close to 400 employees from both companies joined together, the impact multiplied. Together we supported 22 projects that spanned charitable organizations focused on animal and wildlife services, thrift stores and food banks, as well as human health and services for seniors, children and other under-privileged and under-served community members. Our collective employee volunteers implemented a range of projects that included landscaping, gardening, interior and exterior painting, general housekeeping and cleaning, sorting of charitable donations and assembly of food and donation kits.

For example, the Salesforce team of volunteers focused on produce-oriented projects in farms. While some farm produce was directly affected by the fire, the resulting air quality impact on all produce was also felt in the region. As a result, the team:

Win for Salesforce and Keysight employees

Keysight volunteers, including the company's Chief Technology Officer, Jay Alexander (second from left), supporting a local charity.

For participating employees, the plethora of project options offered by the Day of Caring event provided the opportunity to volunteer in a manner that most interested them. Whether their interest was in a particular charity or a specific project activity, volunteers selected whatever suited them best.

In addition, the full day of volunteerism did not require a day off from work! All Keysight and Salesforce employee participants were paid their regular wages while they volunteered that day.

Win for Salesforce and Keysight

While the critical win is for the communities and employees, the two companies also derived value. Think about how teams interact in the office and how a sense of comradery and support of one another in a volunteer project can boost working relationships and productivity back at the office! Team building, whether within workgroups, across functions or even across companies, helps drive business productivity gains.

All in all, it was amazing to see how just a side conversation about extending a corporate partnership into a volunteer event helped drive local community support. In our case it was a connection between Keysight’s direct access to impacted communities and programs with Salesforce’s drive to make a difference locally.

As John Hislop noted to me shortly after the Day of Caring, “Keysight has modeled the way with ongoing philanthropic and community improvement efforts in the North Bay. Keysight and Salesforce share core values, and we were honored to have the opportunity to partner with you to invest back in the community with the annual Day of Caring event.”

I challenge other companies to consider opportunities to reach out and extend your corporate partnerships similarly, for the greater local, or even global, good.