Today’s blog is written by guest blogger, Penny Patterson, VP Corporate Communications at Promega.
The idea that businesses need to serve and provide value to constituents in addition to shareholders is one that has gained increasing recognition since last summer when the Business Roundtable issued its “Statement on the Purpose of the Corporation.” The topic of what some call “stakeholder capitalism” is surfacing again heading into the World Economic Forum this week.
Promega has practiced “stakeholder capitalism” for more than 40 years and, as we’ve shared through our corporate responsibility reporting for the last decade, we have seen meaningful impact. From our founding in 1978, we have taken a “whole human” approach to our business. For us this means growing a financially stable and profitable company that considers and benefits science, employees, customers, community, shareholders and all global residents.
This approach starts with our people. We live the notion that every one of our employees has the potential to make a meaningful difference. And they do. Here are just a few examples. Our manufacturing and operations teams deliver with 99% accuracy and a complaint rate of 0.004%. Discoveries by our R&D scientists generate some of the most read papers among key science journals. The average tenure of our leadership team is 18 years, and over half of these leaders grew their careers and capabilities at Promega.
Science has been an important part of my life for a long time. One of my motivations for being a scientist was to help people. As scientists, there are many ways that we make a difference. For example, doing research that reveals information about basic biological processes can provide insight into how a disease might wreak havoc, and in turn facilitate drug design and effective disease treatments. I can say from experience that it’s especially rewarding to go beyond the impact of science to assist someone in the community face to face.
Just over 5 years ago, I started volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul Madison Food Pantry, the largest in Dane County, Wisconsin, which serves an average of about 400 families per week1. The pantry uses a customer-choice model in which clients are allotted points to shop for food, allowing them to make selections that preserve their dignity and ethnic diversity. The food pantry has a small staff, so volunteers are vital to keep things running. I serve as a “host” to clients and assist them to shop around the pantry for the items that they need. It has been such a positive experience for me. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not changing the world, but I’m helping someone to get essential items to make ends meet for their family. Tough times can happen to anyone, and it takes a great deal of courage to ask for help. My goal is to make the experience for clients as positive as possible by being cheerful, courteous and respectful during their time at the pantry. If my help can make a person forget even for a moment that they have fallen on hard times, then I call that a win!
A desire to make a difference in the community through volunteerism is one of the characteristics that I really like about working at Promega. At a recent company meeting, employees were asked to share how they serve the community. Activities ranged from assisting those with disabilities to participate in athletic activities to taking care of shelter animals to starting a non-profit for children in need. There were many more! Employees helped those in their local communities and even those across the globe from where they live. It was so inspiring to hear about my colleagues’ experiences of serving others.
One of the questions that Promega has always asked of itself is “How can a company really become a vital part of its community over the long term, making truly valuable and unique contributions that foster deep connections to local communities where it exists?” Lately we have formalized that with our Corporate Responsibility Report, but this question has always been a part of our corporate culture, long before such thinking was popular or “en vogue”.
In 1993 Promega helped to begin the nonprofit educational outreach institution, the BTC institute, this long-term commitment to the local community has grown throughout the 22 years to become an integral part of the local Wisconsin educational community and serve as a model for global partners as well. Here are a few thoughts from the Karin Borgh, the Executive Director of BTC Institute, about how it has managed to work toward a vision of being a vital, contributing member of the community. Continue reading “Building Community: Outreach through BTC Institute Courses and Activities”