Employee volunteering can bridge divisive social and cultural practices and help employees understand and bridge social and cultural divisions especially during the current political climate. (Photo by: Shutterstock/Monster Ztudio)

TIAA’s Sean Woodroffe Discusses the Value of Community Service

Volunteering can connect professionals both socially and culturally and help them understand one another, especially during the current political climate.

Sean Woodroffe, senior executive VP and chief human resources officer at TIAA (No. 9 on DiversityInc’s 2020 Top Companies for Diversity List), has seen the benefits of incorporating community service in both his personal and work life.

In the video below, Woodroffe shares with DiversityInc CEO Carolynn Johnson how participating in community service has enhanced his life both professionally and personally. His experience volunteering through his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha—an organization that has had exemplary civic leaders like W.E.B. DuBois, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King Jr. as members—changed his life as a young man. “I learned at a very young age about the value and virtue of service and the value of giving back,” Woodroffe said.

He added that the first inspiration in his life was his mother, who dedicated her life to working at the United Nations for almost 40 years.

“Giving back is something that I believe is in my core,” Woodroffe shared. “Martin Luther King’s legacy was a tremendous legacy. …At TIAA as we think about diversity and juxtapose that to the thesis of Martin Luther King, it’s all about inclusion and diversity… and equality and that is the way we conduct ourselves as a company, proudly.”

Volunteering, whether through Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) or specific employee volunteer networks, can be a way for professionals to practice inclusion and build trust between employees, the companies they work for, and the communities they serve.

At TIAA, employee volunteering projects focus on financial literacy, sustainable practices for the environment, filling the hunger gap and promoting affordable housing.

TIAA is not the only company on DiversityInc’s Top Companies for Diversity List that makes community service a top priority.

At Kellogg (No. 34 on DiversityInc’s 2020 Top Companies for Diversity List), where the founder, W.K. Kellogg, was an early philanthropist and believer in making a social impact, volunteerism has become a part of company culture.

Related: Volunteer Programs: 8 Must-Have Guidelines to Improve Employee Engagement

Through Kellogg’s global signature cause platform, Breakfasts for Better Days, the company committed to 45,000 employee volunteer days in 2017. They do this at local community food banks, community food banks, urban farms and school breakfast programs. It’s one of the many ways the company is aiming to achieve 3 billion Better Days for people worldwide.

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