International Corporate Volunteering: Profitable for Multinational Corporations
People from multinational corporations head off and volunteer for weeks or months in another country, leaving their work behind for others to do. Referred to as Global Pro Bono or International Corporate Volunteering, is this a feel-good thing, or is it really business-related? If you listen to executives at companies that sponsor international corporate volunteering (ICV), these are powerful initiatives for developing employees as leaders to solve global challenges, gaining expertise in emerging markets where the companies want to enter, and building capacity in regions where companies want to expand their businesses and sales. If you listen toDeirdre White, CEO of PYXERA Global, the NGO that facilitates ICV programs for dozens of multinational corporations, she has a vision for ICV 2.0 which will bring even greater benefits to companies and the world.
A growing trend. Beginning with only 375 international corporate volunteers from six multinational corporations (MNCs) surveyed by PYXERA Global in 2008, ICV has grown to 6,000 employees representing 29 MNCs between 2008 and 2013. These volunteers have worked in 64 countries, primarily in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Structured experiences. ICVs are carefully designed experiences, most often for teams comprised of people from multiple countries with a variety of skill sets, from marketing and human resources, to information technology and finance. The volunteer projects are selected based on the company's priority interests -- in terms of the challenge (micro finance is one of Credit Suisse's priority interests) and geography (Peru is a priority interest for Symantec for strategic reasons). Many companies prepare volunteers in advance and have a period of debriefing that involves the next group of volunteers. And many companies include the volunteers' teams back home in a way that makes them part of the leadership development experience as well.