The Civic Circle at Work: Intersection of Staff Values and Employer Response

A reckoning with racial inequity, civil unrest brought on by the murder of George Floyd, election polarization, Capitol riots and the pandemic have all reverberated throughout the workforce in 2020 and continue in 2021.

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As a leader, you might be wondering how to start, or continue, creating a workplace that provides the infrastructure for evolving staff priorities.

In this pre-recorded session, we provide a high-level overview of potential steps to take to enable staff to live out civic life at work:

  • Conduct an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access Audit
  • Ensure equitable and inclusive benefits and compensation
  • Ensure equitable recruiting and hiring processes
  • Focused professional development and mentorship
  • Create staff communication channels

A copy of the presentation slides can be downloaded here, which includes links to additional resources. 

What is the employers’ role in response?

The focus must be on your staff, listening to them, placing their voices and equity at the top of your organizational priorities. In the age of corporate social justice, employees must be number one on your priority list.

Here are three examples from our own organization of how civic engagement, individuals values, and our organizational culture are connected.

Candidate’s Perspective

Points of Light’s civic engagement research showed that 41 percent of Generation Z have considered applying for or taking a job with a company specifically because they believe it is committed to being socially responsible. During an interview last week, I asked a promising candidate a structured interview question to learn if we were the right cultural match for each other. When I asked, “What are the top three things at work that you need which will make you happy or content?,”, the candidate stated staff diversity as one of their top must-haves, signaling to me that diversity is a core value for them and must be for any future employer. Clearly, if we hadn’t been able to demonstrate our commitment to diversity, it would have been a deal-breaker for this candidate (no matter what else we could have offered them).

Potential Vendor

Recently, I provided some feedback to a potential vendor, who wanted Points of Light’s business, about their presentation to me.I explained that there were no BIPOC individuals in their deck. I indicated that if I shared that same content with our staff, they would notice and most assuredly comment on it as I am commenting on it. Sadly, their response had no accountability to it. “We did not create the deck, but we will let the team  know your feedback.” Seeing their commitment to diversity did not match our organizational values, we did not continue to vet this vendor.

 Employee’s Perspective

Points of Light already had strong employee benefits for our staff to be fully engaged and participatory in civic life, including:

  • 1 day monthly of volunteer time off
  • Multiple internal staff communication channels and committees
  • Election Day as a holiday to support staff voting in a Presidential election and
  • Flexible hours for state and local voting.

However, after the murder of George Floyd and subsequent racial reckoning, we listened to our staff to see what was needed. Points of Light would not have had our current Listen. Learn. Act to End Racism initiative if not for our staff’s feedback that we need to take action. This important initiative was informed by and inspired by staff using the workplace to express their values and the organization listened.

As the most recent Points of Light’s Civic Life Today work issue indicated, more employees prioritize civic engagement and advocate for racial and social justice issues, it becomes increasingly difficult for employers to ignore the values of their future and current employees (and even their vendors).

What are ways that your staff have lived Points of Light’s Civic Circle at work?

What have you done to help create a workplace that empowers your staff to live their values at work?

Joselyn Cassidy

Vice President, Points of Light

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