- global CSR programme
- employee engagement
Heather Jin is the Global Head of Impact at Medallia, a customer feedback management software platform that empowers every employee to improve the customer experience.
Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana but currently based in London, Heather has helped scale Medallia’s CSR efforts from a “scrappy” grassroots initiative into a global reaching programme.
With over 2,000 employees, Medallia is a global company that engages their widespread employee base in goodness through CSR initiatives such as their signature Global Week of Giving campaign. As a company, their overall intent is to value every person and every experience – and to do this they put a particular focus on supporting mariginalised communities.
Keeping in line with this mission, they’ve grown their CSR programme to allow their global team to apply this sentiment around the world.
“At its core, Medallia’s purpose – why it’s built – is to create human-centred design while scaling that idea. And so I think that really boils down to giving everyone a voice and a way to share.”Heather Jin – Global Head of Social Impact at Medallia
She continued, “I’m an immigrant myself, as is my whole family, and we’ve all had instances where we’ve felt like our voices weren’t heard or taken care of, which is why this mission really resonates with me. So we focus on asking: how do we listen harder and how do we listen better? And that typically means: how do you listen better and harder for marginalised communities who might not otherwise have the trust to share that type of information with organisations?”
A large part of achieving this is by listening to their employees who come from marginalised communities and ensuring that their voices are represented and supported through their CSR programme.
Read on to learn how Heather and her team have kept the spirit of their grassroots, employee-led programme alive – while scaling it around the world.
Going from a grassroots movement to a global CSR programme
According to Heather, there are a couple of different ways to get started working in the Corporate Social Responsibility space. And one of the most typical pathways is the grassroots model – which is how it started at Medallia.
“It started as a small group of passionate Medallians — who thought it would be incredible if we could put our product into the hands of nonprofit organisations or those who are really changing the world.Heather Jin – Global Head of Social Impact at Medallia
She continued, “Back then, our public sector and our healthcare divisions were kind of in their infancy. At the same time, we saw in our onboarding that we met so many Medallians who were really passionate about giving back – those who had started their own nonprofits or who volunteered every single day – and we wanted to be able to amplify their efforts.”
This is when Heather and a few other Medallians started working on, what she calls, a “scrappy” pitch deck to share their product with nonprofits organisations. She reflected that, at the time, they didn’t even know what CSR was – they just knew it was something they should do.
“We were lucky because this group of us in professional services, we were really passionate about this,” she said. “Really, we were lucky in two-fold. One, that we were in San Francisco, where ESG, CSR, all those things were skyrocketing at that time, so we were able to meet with many folks within the technology sector to learn more about this CSR that we had no idea about. That’s when we realised that this really should be a part of Medallia.”
From this grassroots passion, the team built Medallia.org, which has since gone through a number of evolutions:
- Year One: Joined Pledge 1%, added ERG gift matching (tied to their employee resource groups), and offered volunteer time off to their employees.
- Year Two: Started the Medallia.org Fund, their donor advice fund used to organise emergency and strategic grant-making.
- Year Three: Partnered with Benevity, converting their grassroots programme into a globally operational one.
Creating this year-by-year strategy has been a process of watching the trends and learning not just what’s needed around the world but also what’s needed within their employee base. And as a platform built on experience, this focus on employee engagement is a huge part of the Medallia DNA, which is built directly into their mission as a company.
“At Medallia, we’re all about employee experience. That’s why we provide employee engagement surveys almost every month, and we have an ad-hoc one as well. So if anyone wants to provide feedback, they can provide it anytime.”Heather Jin – Global Head of Social Impact at Medallia
In order to offer a programme that reflects the diverse needs of all Medallians, Heather and her team have adopted a number of CSR strategies that ensure they reach employees around the world.
Let’s take a look at a few of methods that you can use and apply to your own programme.
Leveraging employee resource groups (ERGs) and programme champions
Medallia’s main strategy when it comes to providing a programme that speaks to all employees is to access information through their employee resource groups. These nine employee resource groups – or ERGS for short – play a crucial role in ideating Medallia’s focus areas.
When it comes to defining these focus areas, they think about this work in two layers:
- The layer of supporting employees in any cause that they would like to see. This includes the initiatives that are defined in their policy and are consistently offered every year such as their volunteer time-off, ERG gift matching and Global Week of Giving.
- The strategic layer that moves towards their company-wide focus cases. For example, mental health for BIPOC, LGTBQ+, caretakers, and veterans.
Within both of these layers, they always ask for feedback from their employees. First, they tie the focus areas to their UN SDGs and then they open it up to all employees globally to vote on which one resonates the most – this is done through a crowdsourcing tool called Medallia Crowdicity.
However, Heather also has toyed with the strategy of picking one company-wide focus case to make a larger impact in one area.
Heather said, “I think there is so much power in having just one specific focus case: you have very robust impact metrics that you can track. But I think there’s also the other side where there are CSR programmes that are far more wide and broad. These are very much employee-led, and I’ve personally seen more CSR programmes designed this way and it’s easier to track how CSR impacts employee sentiment.”
“At Medallia right now, we’re trying to balance both having a focus cause and employee-led programming. But I can definitely imagine a world where we just have one focus cause,” she added.
While their programme will continue to evolve over time, Heather is sure that their ERGs will never lose their relevance or influence.
“Our employee resources groups are such a critical and integral part of the culture at Medallia...we really want to make sure that they have a voice in everything that we do. And having a representative from each one of our ERGs is really wonderful to kick-off engagement with our CSR platform, Benevity.Heather Jin – Global Head of Social Impact at Medallia
To connect members of their ERGs together alongside all Medallians who wish to make a positive impact, the company has partnered with a CSR platform. Let’s look at how they use Benevity to increase programme engagement.
Anchoring your programme with a CSR platform
With the help of Benevity, Heather and her team are able to more easily communicate with their ERGs and wider employee-base on all topics related to doing good. This is a useful way to take the information and ideation that they get from their ERGs and push it out to the whole company.
“We make sure that each employee resource group has a day or a month that they are tied to, and we’ll have them featured on Benevity, which I think is a really great way to make sure that ERGs are spotlighted as well as have that regular touch point.”Heather Jin – Global Head of Social Impact at Medallia
Not only has the platform helped in connecting team members in one online space, it has also provided Medallia with the tools to source the activities that come out of their ERGs – so that they can make good on their promise to provide relevant volunteering and giving opportunities to all of their employees.
“All of these volunteering and fundraising events that we did during Global Week of Giving were sourced from employees wanting to do a specific event or cause type and then Benevity helping us find those events. That really ensured that we offered events that were meeting the moment.Heather Jin – Global Head of Social Impact at Medallia
Overall, they were able to engage over 620 employees and 75% of their executives with over 16 nonprofits. One of Heather's favorites was with USAHello to help gather resources for refugees from Afghanistan resettling in the US.
Moreover, Benevity has been a useful tool for communicating with team members about available opportunities and upcoming social impact days.
“Some of the things that we leverage the most from the platform are the announcement feature, the featured organisations and activities, and the purpose-driven challenges as well,” said Heater. “From a communication standpoint, the way that we use it the most is between social impact days. We’ll have banners and featured activities related to social impact days like International Women’s Day or Pride, which have been a really great way to have a set cadence as well as align every month to an ERG.”
This communication is particularly important when it comes to addressing global emergencies. Hoping to demonstrate agility in a crisis, Medallia uses the platform to source nonprofits that are making a real difference in the affected communities – so that they can take action immediately.
“Another thing that we often use Benevity for is communication through emergencies...and to source nonprofits that are tackling these emergencies on the ground. It helps us find nonprofits who are able to take donations and use it immediately, especially in international circumstances.Heather Jin – Global Head of Social Impact at Medallia
While the Benevity platform provides Medallia a lot of functionality when it comes to internal communication, there are a number of other tools and techniques that Heather and her team use to encourage participation in their programme.
Reaching all employees with internal communication
Here are a few channels that they leverage on a regular basis:
- Videos with executives: Any way that you can tie your executives into your communication is a great way to keep momentum going.
- Quarterly Impact Review meetings: These meetings are with the ERGs and their executive sponsor and during the meetings they spotlight Medallians who have been a big Benevity champion or have organised a big volunteering event.
- Medallian TV: Medallia’s channel for sharing what’s going on at the company.
- Slack channels: Heather and her team maintain a strong relationship with their marketing and internal communications teams to be looped into every single channel.
- Benefits and Diversity & Inclusion Newsletters: They make sure that they have a section to be featured in both newsletters.
- Cadence of conferences: Finally, they weave social impact into Medallia’s annual conferences like their Experience Conference.
“Medallian TV was actually an idea created by one of our employees that they provided on our employee feedback channel.”Heather Jin – Global Head of Social Impact at Medallia
Since launching with the Benevity platform, they’ve seen:
- Over 160% increase in volunteer hours
- 200% increase in fundraising amount
- 200% increase in the countries they’ve reached thanks to Benevity’s activity sourcing
Plus, their Global Week of Giving saw over 620 employees engaged. This included participation in the form of skill-based volunteering, donating, fundraising, and purpose challenges or day-to-day actions.
Some other stats from this initiative include:
- 16 non-profits partnerships during the campaign
- 20 countries impacted by their efforts
- 75% of executives engaged
Tips & advice for other companies
- There are many different governance models with CSR but it's not worth stressing over the best governance model to use. What matters most is the executive that you align to. No matter what team you're on, ensure that the executive that's bought in really understands the value of CSR and culture building.
- Align what you're doing with your values. Don't be afraid to take a stance and be bold.
- Tie as much of the programming to impact days as you can. For example, if they have one event at Global Week of Giving, they will also offer the same event during Black History Month with the same nonprofits. This enables employees to experience a sense of continuous impact.
Heather stated, “The great thing about CSR is it’s an amazing network of professionals. We’re not competitive in any way, which is something I’m so grateful for. We get recommendations from our amazing Benevity contacts – shout out to Daniel and Mathilde for sharing their recommendations of what other companies in their portfolios have been seeing, as well as there’s a lot of LinkedIn groups and Slack channels. All of those resources are great ways for having a pulse on what other companies are doing and what’s just needed on the ground.”
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