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Promoting Social Responsibility and Corporate Consciousness

“Members must create a culture that recognizes and blends generational differences. It is imperative to understand the millennial’s desire for corporate consciousness and how this will impact their willingness to stay in place long term. What is your company doing to promote social responsibility and corporate consciousness?  How critical is this to your organizational culture?”

– Steve DuBose, Director of Strategy and Innovation at National Lift Truck, Inc. in Franklin Park, IL.

Asked-Answered1Scott Hennie, President, Elite Supply Chain Solutions, Hudson, OH

As part of MH Logistics, Corporation, we have our “His First Foundation”. As a company, we believe that it is important for OUR business to fulfill opportunities, placed before us daily, to improve the communities in which we live. We feel it is our responsibility to come alongside our employees in their charitable efforts in order to make positive impacts in the lives of those around us.
For this purpose, in 2001 we established our His First Foundation. Our Foundation was created to support our employees’ passions with their charitable efforts in the areas of faith, secular good works, and acts of kindness.
Faith-Based Organizations
“His First Foundation” will support non-denominational organizations whose mission is to share the love of Jesus Christ as well as meeting the physical needs of people in His Name. Local churches and national denominations are exempt from this foundation.
Secular “Good Works” Organizations
“His First Foundation” will support organizations that perform “good works” for a community whose values are consistent with the Foundation.
Acts of Kindness
“His First Foundation” will come alongside people in need that are suffering because of circumstances completely out of their control.

MH Equipment encourages all employees to get involved in their communities and let the Company celebrate their involvement by financially supporting the cause from our His First Foundation. In addition, we have four corporate charities that our employees can use payroll deduction to support in which the Foundation will match. They are as follows:
Make a Wish
Lifesong for Orphans
Salvation Army
Samaritan’s Purse

In addition to the Foundation, each employee is allotted 8 hours paid time off per year to support or participate in a charitable event or activity. For our organization, this equates to approximately 2 full-time employees participating in charitable works each year.

Sharon Cerny, VP of HR on behalf Jerry Weidmann, President Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp. Brookfield, WI

What a great question! I think our corporate conscience and desire to be socially responsible is something that’s evolved over time, to the credit of many people here at Wisconsin Lift Truck, but is always a work-in-progress. As a company, we’ve developed a few programs that I think have helped us create a culture of social awareness. As an example, our Wellness Program led us to hosting Blood Drives and now we hold blood drives here at our Corporate building twice each year.

Over the years we’ve actively supported numerous charitable organizations, too many to mention! But this year we are also acknowledging employees who are active in a charitable group – we invited employees who volunteer their time with a not-for-profit group to tell us about their group and their involvement, and each quarter we are drawing from that list of employees and the winning employee is given $250 as a donation to their group. In addition we write an article on their work and their organization that appears in our quarterly company Newsletter. Through this, we want to honor employees who are volunteering their time to worthy organizations, and encourage others to do the same.

We hold many food drives here at most of our branches that employees always look forward to. We participate in the holiday Toys for Tots program through the US Marine Corp and this always results in a nice pile of new toys or games for children who would otherwise not see much for their Christmas.
And we invite our employees to suggest anything like this, because as a company we definitely enjoy giving back to the community.

So that’s some of what we do socially – but I think we’ve also addressed the need for a corporate conscience. To us, having a corporate conscience means leading with integrity and honesty. Our President, Jerry Weidmann, drove that message home a several years ago when he developed our Code of Business Conduct which is in our employee handbook. We do live this code in our business transactions. We believe in transparency with our customers and our employees.

How critical are these things to our organizational culture? In a word – very! Organizational survival depends upon these kinds of practices because customers will be loyal if they know they can trust us. And employees want to be proud of the company they represent. It’s really a no-brainer.

Doug Carson VP – Marketing & Sales, Fallsway Equipment Company, Akron, OH

Here at Fallsway Equipment Company our HR department has made a concerted effort to involve our employees in our corporate directed charitable causes. We have regularly scheduled activities that include paid time off to allow participation in corporate sponsored events with local charities such as Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, various food pantry locations in our area, etc.

Every Friday we offer our employees the option to participate in “Jeans Fridays”. This weekly event designates a different charitable cause each month and our employees make a donation that is matched by Fallsway for charities such as The American Heart Association, Elder Heart, Wounded Warrior, etc. All employees who make a donation can wear jeans to work on Friday if they choose.

As a matter of course, we regularly encourage and sponsor our employees to participate in our customers’ charitable events both through donations and employee participation time.

We believe our corporate directed charitable support not only gives back to the community in which we do business, but it also provides our employees the ability to participate and be included in our efforts towards social responsibility.

Al Boston, CEO, AK Material Handling Systems, Maple Grove, MN

At AK we have an employee based program that they named GBC (for Give Back Crew). Over 80% of our employees participate and the company sponsors and donates to various causes. I would suggest that you take a look at our website and see the blog that discusses GBC. The causes range from food shelf packaging, bell ringing, Habitat for Humanity, and just about every charity. It makes our employees, customers, and suppliers all proud of what they accomplish. And oh yes it answers your question about what we do to promote social responsibility and corporate consciousness.

Ted Springer, President Springer Equipment, Birmingham, Alabama

The question of engaging millennials and blending generational differences is a topic all owners and senior managers are discussing; it’s the proverbial “generation gap” in the business world today! We have a unique challenge today in that one-third of the U.S. population is considered to be millennials so we will be training many of them to be our replacements. The best practice we have found is to ask them for their suggestions for solutions to problems, their answers are often quite good. This seems to work much better than telling them specifically how to accomplish a task. By getting them involved in meetings with senior managers unlike most of us who run the business were when we were learning the industry, we have found that they will actually run the meeting we just need to be the mediator!

We have found that it’s much better to “guide them than ride them” and dictate only what we must as they have been shaped by technology and aren’t actually unmotivated, in fact they are relatively very good problem solvers. The real key is to determine how motivated they are during the interview process and recognize the statistic that working millennials are staying with their early-career employers longer.

It’s really all about the organizational culture your company chooses to foster. And remember, those who came before us said the very same things about us that we are saying about the millennials.

Buddy Smith, CEO Carolina Material Handling Services, Inc. Columbia, SC

Thanks for your question. I have noticed in our company that our younger employees (those that are considered “millennials”) are initiating and leading the company’s efforts in connecting with the communities where we do business. This includes participation in local food bank drives, walk-a –thons, and other activities that raise funds and awareness for those that are in need. The best example I can give you happened just recently. As you probably know, we witnessed a horrific tragedy in our state a few months ago when a lone gunman walked into a bible study in a church in Charleston, S.C. and killed nine people including the church’s pastor. This was widely reported in the media and one of the most tragic crimes ever committed in our state. A couple of weeks later, one of our own employees (a young female) from our Charleston branch took it upon herself to cook a meal for one of the victim’s families. She, along with her mother, drove over to the house of one of the family members of a victim and presented the meal. Needless to say, she was met with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and invited in to share the meal with them. When I found out about this, I made sure our company began to assist this young employee in her efforts. This included providing gift cards from local grocery stores, recognizing her efforts in our company newsletter and assisting her in her efforts to provide meals. In October of this year, our company will host a lunch for the entire church after one of their Sunday Services.

What I am seeing from these millennials is not just a desire to work somewhere that provides good pay and good benefits but also a place that shares their vision of being involved in a cause greater than themselves. I believe that this is not only the right thing to do but also good business.

Michael Vaughan, CFO, Liftech Equipment Companies, Inc., East Syracuse, NY

Liftech Equipment promotes social responsibility by encouraging volunteer participation and involvement in local charities. Several Liftech employees also serve as volunteer members of Board of Directors/Trustees. Often times this requires allocating time during working hours and Liftech accommodates that time spent on charitable activities. Liftech feels that it is very important to “give back” to the communities we live in. We are also very active in supporting charitable fundraisers thru participation in planning and making donations, organizing and holding blood drives and also donating equipment to help underwrite charitable events.

Daryle Ogburn, President Advanced Equipment Company, Charlotte, NC

Great Question. I am sure you will receive many and varied answers. Our company, Advanced Equipment Company, is small with 16 employees counting me and our owner Larry Abernathy. Due to our size and our management style we have very few written policies. What we do have is a corporate culture of absolute respect for each employee in which our employees are considered Family. We also have a deep respect for the family of each employee. Our employees know that if there is something of importance going on in their family we do not question the time off needed to deal with whatever the matter is. Each employee also knows that whatever problem may enter their life that there work family will be there to support them. We are blessed to have a great group of employees and we are blessed to have very little turnover of employees. Our owner is very generous with the profit and resources of our company and this results in long term tenure and loyal employees. Our corporate culture has helped us avoid many of the problems other companies face with generational differences.