Celebrating the Impact of Pro Bono at GSK
Research shows that people who volunteer and spend their time in service of others feel healthier, happier, and enriched with a sense of purpose. Often, immersive volunteering experiences can be transformational and life-changing for employees in a corporate setting. GSK’s PULSE & Global Volunteering Impact Report demonstrates the extent to which volunteering impacts not only the employees who participate, but also our business and the communities we serve. During Pro Bono Week 2017, I’m pleased to share the progress we have made in democratizing volunteering since my last post.
"PULSE volunteers have created positive, sustainable change in communities all around the world. They are role modeling our expectations for courage, accountability, development, and teamwork, and building trust within and outside of the company."
—Emma Walmsley, Chief Executive Officer, GSK
So, why not extend the benefit of volunteering to more people? This question became the spark that inspired the Global Month of Volunteering at GSK, now underway in October. GSK has been working towards democratizing volunteering—by taking it from the 100 or so employees who can participate in PULSE (our three or six month full-time, immersive volunteer program) to our global employee population of 100,000 employees. To realize that ambition, GSK employees all over the world are coming together this October to volunteer and to inspire other colleagues to participate as well.
Whether in Mumbai, India or in Bogota, Colombia, GSK teams can take one paid day off each year to make a difference for their chosen local community project through our Orange Day program. For instance, in August 2017, 220 volunteers from our North Carolina office, in partnership with Durham Rescue Mission, packed 3,000 backpacks of school supplies for children and distributed 1,400 bags of groceries to families in the area.
The Impact of Pro Bono Volunteering
Volunteering isn’t limited to packing bags, however. When people volunteer their skills and talents, they stand to gain more. Take United States-based sales specialist Dean Irey, for instance. He went to work at Save the Children in the Philippines through PULSE to help them develop relationships with corporate partners. “Seeing the immense needs of children first-hand was very intense, but it increased my passion in helping my colleagues to fundraise to enable the experts in the field to do what they do best,” said Irey.
This impact can be multiplied when you collaborate with like-minded companies and take a leap across sectors. In a pioneering multi-company collaboration, two of our employees, Robin Wilson-Tolbert and Tamsin Davidson, volunteered in Rwanda with three employees from technology firm SAP to assist Partners in Health, an NGO locally known as Inshuti Mu Buzima (PIH/IMB). GSK and SAP are both founding partners of IMPACT 2030, the only business-led effort that harnesses the power of employee volunteerism to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs provided the context to explore our shared values, our complementary capabilities, and how best to collaborate. This eventually led to a three-way partnership where PIH/IMB’s insights guided the GSK and SAP volunteers to create a system that enables the NGO to securely store and manage data – an important step on their journey to becoming a research-based organization that impacts local and global health policies.
"They [the volunteers] established a centralized data management system and championed a change strategy that ensures buy-in, optimal use of the system, and sustainability."
—Fred Kateera (PIH/IMB Rwanda)