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A Business Owner’s Perspective on Corporate Responsibility
As a business owner for over 34 years, I’ve often wondered what my corporate responsibility is to give back to the community. The truth is, I was brought up in an environment where giving time and money was an obligation of my religion. Growing up, I didn’t fully grasp the cause and effect of donations to needy causes. Today, as the CEO and Chairman of StevenDouglas, I have made the connection in understanding how my influence can truly create a positive ripple effect in people’s lives. I now find true joy in bringing awareness to and fundraising for, issues affecting people in my community. When you are able to identify the causes you are personally passionate about, it seems only natural to use that passion and momentum to help change certain unfortunate realities.
Over the years I’ve been involved with many local non-profits including United Way, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Broward Partnership for the Homeless, Kids in Distress and the Jason Taylor Foundation.
I began working with the Jason Taylor Foundation about seven years ago. Initially, we partnered together to launch the “Read to Succeed Initiative” an initiative designed to increase fundraising for the Reading Room. The Jason Taylor Reading Room, an after-school program for middle and high school students, addresses academic and literacy challenges amongst inner-city youth. The program’s curriculum covers vocabulary development, reading comprehension, language arts, creative writing skills, oral reading fluency and novel study, and ninety minutes of math instruction each week, per grade level.
To date, we have raised over $1,000,000.00 through the “Read to Succeed Initiative” for the Reading Room. Part of the funds raised have gone towards college scholarships, student advocacy, and mentorship programs administered through the Foundation.
In seeing how important volunteer work is to my family and I, my company has also adopted a culture of giving back. Almost every single employee at StevenDouglas is a volunteer or donor to a cause they care deeply about. Not surprisingly, we have many employees who are heavily involved as Chairs or Board Members in their chosen charity. I pride myself in knowing that not every company will allow its employees to take time away from their jobs to pursue volunteer leadership roles, but StevenDouglas does allow that time away from work to make long-lasting community impressions. Giving back is not just about monetary giving, it is truly about giving your time.
The ripple effect of my charitable efforts have fundamentally built a company culture of giving. That culture attracts like-minded employees and clients to our firm. When I sat down with Matt Shore, our President, to share his ideas about corporate social responsibility and charitable giving, he echoed my sentiment, “Our commitment to charitable endeavors is pervasive throughout our organization. Charitable involvement is something that we discuss when we are first recruiting people to join our company, to give them a sense for the type of organization they can become a part of.”
Matt went on to say “We care about our employees and we care about the communities they live, work and play in. Giving back is good for the soul and it is a great team building activity at the same time. I personally feel blessed to be part of a company that has given me the time and resources to make a true impact in our community.”
When I asked Matt how he thinks our culture is enhanced by our charitable mindset, he said “I strongly believe that our willingness to give our employees the opportunity to be involved in causes they are passionate about helps us attract the right kind of people to our firm.” He added “People who are kind and compassionate, people who are selfless and people who go above and beyond. This cultural foundation makes us a stronger company and in the end, it is also good for business.”