Keeping Your Culture Connected

Yesterday we heard from Kathie Patterson, the CHRO at Ally Financial. She began to explore how organizations can make sure that their culture is one that is connected. Today we’ll hear more from her including how Corporate Social Responsibility plays a role.

cultureHow Does CSR Play a Role in Culture?

Over the past few years, corporate giving has grown, with smart companies leveraging purpose-driven CSR programs as a way to empower individuals and build stronger corporate cultures. Giving back results in tremendous emotional benefits, helping individuals feel more empowered and more connected to the world around them. And individuals who feel empowered and connected make stronger and more well-rounded employees.

Volunteerism is a powerful component of employee giving. Volunteering in the community brings a human component to giving back. No more nameless checks—these are real people doing real work and making a real impact. Companies that involve themselves in corporate giving and employee volunteering position themselves with more strength as brands, recruiters, retainers, and performers. One of our main goals surrounding our giving-back efforts is focusing on economic mobility. Being a financial services company, we frequently focus on efforts that reduce barriers to economic mobility, aiming to provide people with greater access to vital services, education, and resources that they can use to improve their economic circumstances and reach their financial goals.

Volunteerism and offering strong giving-back opportunities are new ways to make an impact on your employee base. More than two-thirds of respondents in Nielsen’s global online survey on corporate social responsibility say they prefer to work for a socially responsible company.

At Ally, every employee receives 8 hours of volunteer time off to spend giving back. Employees are invited to get involved in many volunteer opportunities throughout the year, both companywide and in local markets. Designating a special cause or time of year for employees to participate can also inspire engagement. Every November, Ally celebrates a companywide Giving Back Month, which encourages employees to support local nonprofit organizations with donations and volunteer time for vital community services and financial education. We’ve even brought giving back into our early talent recruiting efforts with a new program called Chapstick to Charity. Rather than giving out throwaway swag while on campus recruiting, we are now donating money per student to a charity of his or her choice.

These ongoing efforts have united employees in efforts to do good things across the country and have contributed to some of the highest employee engagement survey scores in Ally’s history, with Ally earning 77 out of 100 points—5 points higher than the Financial Services Industry benchmark.

When Looking at Culture Today Versus in the Past, What has Changed, and How Can Organizations Stay Ahead of the Curve?

You need to treat people as people. It’s important to be mindful of the needs of the modern employee and the modern family. Recognize that every employee has a different story and different needs, and today, it is vital to celebrate this diversity. Our workforce at Ally is very diverse, and we’re committed to creating an inclusive culture with programs that meet all employees’ unique needs.

We’ve expanded our definition of diversity to better support our employees. We’re introducing several new benefit offerings that support even more healthcare needs for our employees and their families. One new thing we’re doing is changing from an infertility benefit to a fertility benefit to more fully support employees who want to build a family, regardless of whether they are single or partnered, are a female couple, or have a medical diagnosis. We are also increasing our adoption benefit and adding surrogacy benefits to support more people who want to build a family.

We want our employees to feel supported wholly, and financial health is an important part of overall well-being. We’ve recently ramped up our financial wellness offerings and introduced more resources like financial assessments, challenges, and access to Certified Financial Planners. In early 2019, we’ll be rolling out a retirement-readiness tool to help employees plan for the long term at no cost to them.

These program changes, in addition to our ERGs, have inspired our employees to become more open, more connected, and more engaged. This openness and inclusiveness is exciting, will help us continue to shape and evolve our programs, and will strengthen our culture going forward.

Kathie will be speaking at HR Comply, formerly known as AEIS. She will be hosting the session titled Building a Workplace of the Future and a Connected Culture to Further Employee Engagement.

Kathie Patterson is the CHRO at Ally Financial. She is responsible for overseeing the company’s human capital, talent management, compensation, benefits, well-being, internal communications and cultural efforts – ensuring they support the organization’s overall strategic objectives and drive Ally’s efforts to be a leading employer of choice.