Taproot Foundation’s 2020 U.S. Pro Bono Summit Virtual Series is coming up in a few short weeks. In the lead up, we’re releasing a series of profiles featuring companies who are on the leading edge of pro bono service as we all work towards rebuilding our communities in the face of a global crisis.
For Johnson & Johnson, social responsibility comes first—it’s even written in Our Credo, a set of values and principles that have guided the company since 1943. They’re committed to each of their employees around the globe, to the communities in which they live and work, and to building a healthier future for everyone, everywhere. One of the ways they approach that immense responsibility is through their Talent for Good employee engagement program.
Doing good means thinking big at Johnson & Johnson. “We’ve worked to create a more transformational corporate responsibility program,” said Saadia Malik, Manager, Employee Engagement. “At Global Community Impact, we’re not only looking at where we invest, but how we best leverage our other assets, how we advocate for our partners, and how we mobilize our talent for good, while keeping our frontlines at the center.” They offer a variety of pro bono programs, ensuring each of their nearly 140,000 employees has the opportunity to enhance their skills while being a catalyst of positive change.
When developing these programs, Johnson & Johnson looks for what Malik describes as the triple win: a win for the employee, the company, and the community partner. Nonprofits benefit from increased capacity and the amplification of their cause; employees develop personally and professionally and bring new skills back to their roles; and, crucially, Johnson & Johnson is fulfilling the values in Our Credo.
Providing inclusive opportunity
One example of this triple win is Johnson & Johnson’s newest offering, Talent for Healthy Communities—a program dedicated to making a sustainable, positive impact on local communities. This 12-week program matches teams of Johnson & Johnson employees with select nonprofit organizations, who work both in-person and virtually to build and strengthen their organizational capacity. Johnson & Johnson first piloted the Talent for Healthy Communities program in 2018, working with Taproot to home in on the most valuable skill they could bring to their nonprofit partners. “Because of the nature of what we do, process efficiency was an expertise area across the board, whether in marketing, HR, finance, or elsewhere,” shared Malik. Once they knew where they could truly offer the most value, they could build an effective, impactful program—an approach that centered on both nonprofit needs and employee expertise.
Talent for Healthy Communities was also designed to complement the skills-based opportunities already in place. The existing opportunities required a longer-term commitment: four weeks or six months away from work and home, placed with a nonprofit in a different region. This new offering is targeted towards employees that may not have as much flexibility to travel, but want to contribute to their communities. This new program makes volunteer opportunities more inclusive and more accessible for their employees, all while enabling them to serve an even greater number of nonprofits across the country. Especially given the current circumstances around COVID-19 and restriction on travel and social distancing in place, this program allows employees to still serve local nonprofit organizations during an unprecedented time.
The program has attracted a wide variety of Johnson & Johnson employees so far. In the program’s first year, nearly 300 employees applied for the 18 available slots—an incredible testament to the desire across the company to give back. Significantly, 60% of the participating employees have more than 15 years of experience. The volunteer teams have been able to take on challenges that require a high level of expertise, thereby providing nonprofits with the supports they need most.
One recent nonprofit participant in the Johnson & Johnson program was Save the Children Canada. Save the Children is the world’s largest independent organization dedicated to children, working worldwide to advance the rights of children for over 100 years. Save the Children worked with the Johnson & Johnson team to navigate some of the complexities they faced as a regional office of a global organization, focusing on their National Reconciliation Program that reclaims the rights of indigenous children.
By the project’s end, Save the Children received deliverables like key recommendations for cost recovery, organizational structure, and partner engagement. And the Johnson & Johnson team helped map out workflows and identify redundancies, enabling the Save the Children team to adjust the structure of their organization almost immediately. Lewis Archer, the acting director of the National Reconciliation Program at Save the Children Canada, described the project’s impact as swift and significant: “We’ve been able to submit more proposals, deliver more trainings, and focus on building programs. It made a huge impact on our ability to get things done and work effectively with community partners across Canada.”
Archer described the valuable skills that the Johnson & Johnson team brought to the project—from the ability to communicate across teams to HR expertise, with a particular emphasis on the process efficiency skills that originally shaped the development of the Talent for Health Communities program. Perhaps most importantly, Archer focused on the high level of support the Johnson & Johnson team brought to the table: “Their way of thinking and problem solving was just mind-blowing for me. The thoroughness, the amount of time they dedicated to this project, and the way they spoke to us and our partners—everything was so thoughtful and so incisive. I appreciated their genuine excitement to learn about the work we do and the context we work in.”
The program provided short-term solutions that paved the way for long-term impact. “The Johnson & Johnson team helped us clarify not just what we do, but why we do it and the value that we bring,” Archer shared. “That in itself really inspired us and helped us kick off a bunch of additional projects. They gave us a roadmap, and we can follow it step-by-step.”
Building a healthy future
What’s next on the roadmap for Talent for Healthy Communities? As the program enters its third year, the number of participating employees is expected to double, and the program will expand into multiple new locations. Several adjustments were made to adapt during this crisis by pushing the program to later this year, reaching out to NGOs to see how the company can support in the meantime, and preparing to make this pivot to a complete virtual setting.
Perhaps most importantly, the value of pro bono service doesn’t end when a project concludes. This work shapes each individual who participates—and those individuals keep giving back. “We tend to always think globally, but to act locally is very powerful,” Malik said. “And it sparks the desire to do good. We see so many employees coming to us again and again to see what else they can do.”
Doing good is part of the culture at Johnson & Johnson—guided by Our Credo, employees give their time and talents to advance the health of communities and people all around the world. Pro bono service is just one more way they put their values into practice.