Seattle Foundation Blog

Seattle Foundation and Philanthropy Northwest Host Corporate Responsibility Symposium

Leaders from Boeing, JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft, Tableau, Starbucks and Walsh Construction share their corporate philanthropic investments and results

May 22, 2017

Seattle Foundation and Philanthropy Northwest co-hosted a corporate responsibility symposium on May 19 for locally-based companies to share their philanthropic best practices and experiences.

The symposium featured speakers from an array of companies that share a genuine commitment to being good social sector partners and to harnessing their talents, treasure, time and tools to address problems and needs in both the local community and abroad.

In welcoming the symposium attendees, Maya Thornell-Sandifor, Learning Strategies Director at Philanthropy Northwest, shared highlights from the biennial Trends in Northwest Giving report. Corporate philanthropy accounted for 8 percent of giving to the Pacific Northwest, totaling $152.1 million in 2014, the most recently available data. Consistent with previous reports, the largest contributions to our region came from Boeing and Microsoft, both Fortune 100 companies employing more than 120,000 people in Washington.

View the full report.

The discussion then addressed corporate social responsibility strategies and ways businesses can meet community needs through workforce hiring and place-based giving.

“Here in the Pacific Northwest region, companies of all sizes are an important source of support for the nonprofit community,” said Fidelma McGinn, Vice President, Philanthropic Services at Seattle Foundation.

The speakers were corporate leaders engaging in innovative work to address challenges, particularly in underserved communities.

Steve Schwartz, Social Impact Marketing Manager at Tableau Software, shared the impressive results of the company’s engagement in global health, using their data analytic tools to provide real-time, actionable reports that helped governments and NGOs effectively respond to diseases like Ebola and malaria.

“At the end of the day, we have taken some big lessons away from this,” he said. “Do what you do best, work with partners that do what they do best and trust them.”

Cat Martin of JP Morgan Chase, and Afton Walsh of Walsh Construction, shared their commitment to scalable partnerships and place-based investments, using an example of the revitalized low-income Yesler Terrace community in Seattle. They talked about how their commitment to the project goes beyond money or construction, and includes elements of a vibrant community like workforce development and access to affordable health care.

A panel discussion about employee engagement and workforce development featured Joelle Skaga Nausin of Starbucks, Jane Broom of Microsoft and Sam Whiting of Boeing.

While discussing the need for diverse workforces, Broom spoke to how Microsoft is aiming to close the employment gap across gender and race through their hiring process. Whiting shared Boeing’s focus on early childhood education as one way to help prepare the workforce of the future. Nausin said the focus at Starbucks is job readiness, providing hiring opportunities for veterans, youth and refugees.

The panelists concluded by saying their corporations are encouraging employees to engage in meaningful volunteering experiences as another aspect of contributing to the community.



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