Friday, April 1, 2011

Volunteerism and Career Development

There are so many benefits from volunteering. We often have heard it said that it is in giving of our time and talent that we truly receive. As I have mentioned before, I am a great admirer of synchronicity and the uncanny ways that we are all connected even on the premise of six degrees of separation. Now with the Internet and all the various social media and networking sites, I feel the benefits are expanding exponetially.

My employer has seen tremendous benefits from its philanthropic and volunteer activities and I want to relate some recent events that I think help the story of how employees who volunteer not only receive personal and professional benefits but add value to their employers and any professional and community networks that they participate in.

The company I work for has made great strides in the last 18 months in elevating the strategic value of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We presently have a Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee that reports its efforts through a Talent Strategy Committee and the Executive Committee.  Several members of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee belong to other organizations that are also working on diversity and inclusion in their industries and beyond. Our committee chairperson is also a member of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA)and participates actively in their diversity programs, while several other members belong to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA)and a group entitled Women in the Industry (WIN) which is now closely associated with ARDA. The remainder of our committee members also belong to the Florida Diversity Council and/or to the National Diversity Council. Each council member also has a volunteer role in one of these organizations and ofter in a some leadership capacity.

The value for one's career and professional development is largely derived from the sheer amount of learning that comes from extending your intake of new knowledge and best practices and alerting your day-to-day activities enough to take in a widening circle of relationships. Building such relationships and working in the community have mutually benefical outcomes and lead to a sense of pride in your employer for supporting these efforts.

My employer additionally has a long history of supporting charitable and other non-profit organizations locally, nationally and internationally. One of our core values is relationships and our president always reminds us that we genuinely care about one another, our customers and our communities. These relationships offer foster a number of alliances where you feel as though you have entered into some virtuous cycle advancing from good to great.

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