I recently interviewed David Casey, the Vice President of Diversity and Workplace Development at Wellpoint (a little known Fortune 50 company), about the potential for building the pro bono ethic in the HR profession. In his work with women and people of color at Wellpoint he noted that one of the most common complaints is that their work in the community (boards, pro bono service, former jobs at nonprofits, etc) is not considered in their advancement and development within the corporations.
There is clearly an opportunity here to both increase the number of people doing pro bono work and address this challenge for women and people of color by lobbying to have companies make pro bono work and board service a formal and measured part of professional development programs. Law firms have been doing this for years and have proven that it works. Learning and development leaders should reach out to the legal profession and learn from their success to help advance the development of their teams and their communities, and to make their companies employers of choice for women and people of color.