Being a Great Place to Work is About Being Responsible
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion about corporate responsibility at the College of Charleston School of Business. The audience was the brand new cohort of MBA students, and my fellow panelists were George Stevens, CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation; Jim Newsome, President and CEO of the SC State Ports Authority; and Beezer Molten, President and Owner of Half-Moon Outfitters.
To be honest, I think I learned as much as the students did. Seriously. Every time I go out and talk about corporate responsibility, CSR, doing good as part of good business, I learn something from the people engaged in the conversation. This time, I got to listen to the very wise guidance of George, Jim and Beezer – and the really smart, on-point questions from this new crop of future leaders.
Although we covered a lot of ground on the overall topic of ethics, integrity and corporate responsibility, there are a couple of thoughts I personally think had the most impact.
1) There is always grey. No matter what code of ethics and conduct you follow, there will always be situations that require you to make judgment calls. It’s ok to struggle with these situations. In fact, it’s good. Smart people can often come down on different sides of an issue. What matters is understanding why you decided what you did. (Thank you, Jim, for this one.)
2) Be as transparent as possible. In the grand scheme of things, all you have is your good name. If you are making a decision and think you may want to hide how you respond, that’s a good sign that it’s better to take another course of action, one that you can and will be public about. (A shout out to Beezer for focusing us on this.)
3) Don’t forget the brand of you. Understand who you are, what motivates you and the many ways you may take those interests forward. You may begin in one role and morph into another. Keeping in touch with your own brand, how you shape it and how experiences inform it, is essential. (A nod to George for this key point.)
4) Live the brand. When you are seeking a job and building a career, remember that it’s important to align yourself with a brand you trust and value. As an employee, you will want and need to live that brand. If you’re uncomfortable doing that, you made the wrong choice. Conversely, if you pick well, you’ll find that your life and your work will intertwine in a way that’s truly rewarding.
This last point was mine. I have been so fortunate to be at a place where I could grow, learn, take on new challenges and evolve both as a person and as a professional. I guess that’s why I’m not surprised by the news today…Blackbaud being named a finalist in the Best Places to Work in S.C. competition. It IS a great place to work, a place that understands that being a good citizen, being responsible, are fundamental to how we operate.
Thanks to Angela Boyd at the College of Charleston School of Business, for inviting me to participate yesterday, for giving me a chance to learn and a chance to share. We’re always learning and growing and for that, I’m truly grateful