Community Service at AI
At AI, we are trying to do more than just make a profit. We seek to serve and enrich five key stakeholders: our customers, our colleagues, our shareholders, our suppliers and our communities. There are many tangible ways that we support our communities – here are a few:
Our Community Service Officer (CSO) is a volunteer position led by our colleagues. The CSO is our social and environmental consciousness – helping to ensure that we enrich our communities. This ‘position’ is often filled by a team of individuals who create and coordinate activities and periodically report on our results.
At our headquarters, we replaced our vending machines with refrigerators so that we could add more healthy snacks. We subsidize the price of those snacks to make them more available to our colleagues. These snacks aren’t free (we don’t believe they should be) – our colleagues are all on the honor system to pay the subsidized price and can do so thru payroll deductions to make it easier. 100% of these contributions are fed back to fund our giving efforts – so every dollar you spend on snacks goes back to the community.
Our shareholders believe in profit sharing, and our target is for each employee to earn a bonus equal to at least 5% of salary – in other words, to earn at least one extra paycheck every year. Our colleagues model giving by contributing at least 1% of the annual profit sharing pool to charity – helping to support our scholarships and general giving fund.
The CSO manages the giving fund, which consists of the snack money and profit sharing contributions. A key use of this fund is the scholarships we established to promote future cathodic protection professionals through our main trade association, the National Association of Corrosion Engineers. These scholarships are awarded at the annual national NACE conference. In the future, we hope to establish a meaningful scholarship fund for our colleagues’ children.
Another important use of the giving fund is matching employee donations. The CSO also manages this effort using a simple process to request the match. We have given our colleagues thousands of dollars to help their own contributions go further and support their own individual community interests.
Our policies provide for time away from work to support the community. Our colleagues often volunteer with local schools to act as mentors and tutors. We have done many community service events over the years to give back and deepen relationships with our colleagues including the Capital Area Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, animal shelters and park clean-ups. In 2017, we built a house in the homeless community in partnership with Mobile Loaves and Fishes. The highlight of our Thanksgiving lunch is recognizing the department that wins our annual food drive.
And in times of need, we are there to help our colleagues and their families. In the past, we’ve collected and matched donations to help victims of floods, fires, and tornados. We genuinely care about our colleagues, and it’s important that we help out in times of tragedy and disaster.
Prevalent business thinking would consider a lot of this strange behavior and suggest we leave this to the non-profits of the world and focus on maximizing our earnings. We believe our communities do a lot to support business and our colleagues, so we have a responsibility to give back in recognition of that support, and we believe that business can be a positive force for social good. We hope that you will join us in supporting one of our five key stakeholders, and give your time, talent and/or treasure to local causes.