Upcoming Conference to Discuss New Approach to Corporate Volunteerism

icv-conferenceThe 4th Annual International Corporate Volunteerism Conference will convene this Apr. 11 - 12 in Washington, D.C. Hosted by CDC Development Solutions, a nonprofit that designs volunteer programs for corporations, the event will bring together experts as well as companies like IBM, Merck, PepsiCo and SAP.

"I've been to this conference in the past," Alice Korngold, President and CEO of Korngold Consulting LLC, told Justmeans in an email. "This is the place to be if your company or NGO is investing in ."

Presenters at the conference will share their knowledge of and experiences with International Corporate Volunteerism (known by its acronym ICV or "global pro bono"), a relatively new practice among corporations that involves sending teams of employees to volunteer their professional skills for local governments, educational institutions, social enterprises and nonprofits in emerging economies.

Korngold, whose firm offers expert consulting to the boards of nonprofits, foundations and universities, among other organizations, says that ICV offers companies opportunities beyond generating positive press.

"The primary benefit to companies for engaging their employees in global pro-bono is the uniquely effective leadership development opportunity of this immersion experience," she says.

Korngold has found that employees who volunteer their professional skills to nonprofits acquire "the very skills that people require to be successful in business today," including "teamwork, communications, listening and body language, diversity sensitivity, and problem-solving."

One such program is SAP's Social Sabbatical. The software company's program sends employees to work with non-profits that support and improve entrepreneurship in emerging economies. The program, which sends employees on three-week assignments, is rolling out in Brazil, India and South Africa, and SAP plans to expand to China within the year.

"By supporting small businesses we are helping to create more sustainable jobs and a better environment for entrepreneurs to thrive," says Nicolette van Exel, Director of CSR at SAP. "This level of commitment to skilled volunteering allows our employees to enrich their careers, and provides an opportunity for our non-profit partners to accelerate sustainable economic growth."

SAP's volunteer programs are specifically driven towards develop leadership and professional skills among company employees. The company pursues team building during its annual Month of Service and gives employees opportunities to engage in "micro-volunteering" where they solve non-profit challenges from their desks.

"SAP is committed to making the world run better by improving people's lives," says van Exel. "Volunteerism helps drive meaningful employee engagement beyond the day to day responsibilities, and provides a myriad of opportunities to engage our customers and civil society."

pepsicorpsSAP's Social Sabbatical volunteers will present their experiences with ICV at the conference. Also presenting is global food and beverage company PepsiCo, which will talk about its PepsiCorps program. PepsiCorps is a leadership development experience that involves sending a small group of PepsiCo employees on a month-long international assignment to gain on-the-ground insights into societal challenges and leverage business skills to make a positive impact. Since 2011, PepsiCo has sent groups to Ghana, India and New Mexico to work on projects related to water, sustainable agriculture, and health and wellness.

PepsiCorps provides the company more than just the opportunity for positive press. PepsiCo wants its employees return to their jobs with improved adaptability, resilience and creativity, as well as a renewed commitment to "Performance with Purpose," the company's belief in delivering sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future. A speaker from PepsiCo will speak at the conference on making an impact and measuring the return on investment of its PepsiCorps program.

The conference will be keynoted by President of George Mason University Dr. Ángel Cabrera. In his latest book, Being Global, How to Think, Act, and Lead in a Transformed World, Dr. Cabrera discusses what it takes to lead a global business in an increasingly interconnected world.

"Truly global leaders act as bridge builders, connectors of resources and talent across cultural and political boundaries," wrote Dr. Cabrera recently in the Harvard Business Review. "They don't just think global-they are global."

Those interested in learning more about the 4th Annual International Corporate Volunteerism Conference can do so online.

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