- corporate social responsibility
Sage Milton is the social impact leader at Duck Creek Technologies, a leading provider of comprehensive P&C insurance software and services for insurers of all sizes worldwide. Having worked at the company for over five years before taking on her current role within social impact, Sage brings her knowledge of the industry and personal experience with Duck Creek’s purpose into her own work of creating positive change on behalf of the company.
Hear her full story on the Purpose Heroes Podcast or continue reading, below.
Sage’s Personal Purpose
“I’ve always been very passionate about sustainability and volunteerism, and for me personally CSR is really important way to get a holistic view of your ESGs. In my free time, I am really proud to volunteer with and support an organization called Best Buddies; they work with individuals who have IDD (intellectual or developmental disabilities). We get paired up with a buddy and can establish either a virtual friendship or an in-person one. It has also been wonderful to have the opportunity to channel my own passions behind Duck Creek’s initiatives and focus on STEM programs, education programs, gender equality, and natural disaster relief.”Sage Milton – Social Impact Lead at Duck Creek Technologies
With almost 1,800 employees globally, Duck Creek Technologies is a remote-first company that is committed to diversity, equity & inclusion as a community of one – One Duck Creek. Through their CSR program, Duck Creek Gives Back, Sage and her team are able to reach employees around the world by engaging them in volunteering and giving.
Duck Creek’s corporate purpose is to add value and ease to the lives of their customers, shareholders and employees. As leaders in technology and insurance, this overall mission of betterment is always tied to our CSR initiatives, which include programs related to STEM, education, gender equality, and disaster relief.
Sage and her team also encourage all Duck Creek employees to support the organizations that are close to their hearts and to get involved within their own communities – no matter where they are located in the world.
“For me, it’s about creating a program that aligns with your company’s purpose and vision. In the insurance sector, it’s important to intertwine all the sides of ESG to align with our actual purpose and have a strategy and metrics that are built into the business. It’s been critical for me to make sure that we’re really working all of our ESG initiatives into our business model.”Sage Milton – Social Impact Lead at Duck Creek Technologies
Of course, challenges arise when it comes to getting employees involved in your corporate purpose, especially in a remote-first environment.
Read on to learn how Sage and her team approach each obstacle on their way to engaging in goodness globally.
How Duck Creek connects a dispersed team through CSR
Bring employees together in one virtual space
Before the pandemic, the Duck Creek Gives Back program was an in-person way of connecting employees through team building exercises and acts of goodness. But when the pandemic hit, they saw the need to shift.
Without a physical space for employees to contribute their time and resources to worthy causes, Duck Creek wanted to create a virtual space – to mirror their new working environment – and encourage participation from employees.
“When we first did Duck Creek Gives Back, before the pandemic, we experienced growing pains because we did not have a centralized place for everyone to go. Having Benevity as our CSR platform has been helpful because it acts as a one-stop shop for employees. We’re able to do donation campaigns, find field volunteering opportunities, and create events for employees to sign up. I think that we’ve had better employee engagement since implementing Benevity. From what we have experienced, it is beneficial to offer your employees one place to go for all volunteerism and giving initiatives as it is easier.”Sage Milton – Social Impact Lead at Duck Creek Technologies
In the remote environment, bringing employees together in one space isn’t the only challenge. There’s also the difficulty of finding relevant volunteering opportunities to participate in no matter where your employees operate.
Sourcing remote-first volunteering opportunities
“As a remote-first company, we needed to have that centralized location that would allow for global opportunities. Without having a robust CSR platform, the team would have to manually identify employees to be the main contact in each of our regions. When we were going through the demo process with Benevity, I felt relief because the platform seemed great at identifying organizations that we felt fit with our mission and vision.”Sage Milton – Social Impact Lead at Duck Creek Technologies
While the boom in remote working has certainly brought with it a number of advantages for global companies, it has simultaneously presented new obstacles for engaging employees across countries, cultures, and languages. This is particularly true when it comes to volunteering, which is most impactful when done on the local level.
The main challenge that companies face is how to source relevant activities for their teams – which are all made up of individuals with varied interests, skills, and locations.
“When you’re sourcing remote activities on your own, it’s difficult to navigate the waters and see which organizations actually offer virtual opportunities. Many nonprofits don’t have the financial backing to offer virtual opportunities. Benevity has been helpful to us as it has opened a lot of doors to give our employees a broader spectrum of opportunity.”Sage Milton – Social Impact Lead at Duck Creek Technologies
With the help of a CSR platform, Duck Creek is able to offer their international teams personalized activities based on their location, skills, and preferred causes. Not only that, but also they’re able to offer remote opportunities in the form of skills-based volunteering to encourage employees to lend their time to causes they care about within a remote environment.
“Duck Creek supports skills-based volunteering. Often, when people think of volunteer initiatives, they picture physical activity, like building a house, which is instantly gratifying as you can immediately and directly see the impact. However, it is important to note that physical volunteering is not the only way. There are other valuable skill-based volunteering opportunities that are a perfect fit for a technology company with the necessary skills that non-profits need. Just because we’re virtual doesn’t mean we can’t give back, of course.”Sage Milton – Social Impact Lead at Duck Creek Technologies
While having these opportunities will help to increase engagement, it’s pertinent to consistently find ways to unite dispersed teams and encourage participation. At Duck Creek, this is executed with the help of local ambassadors who are committed to getting teammates on board.
Rallying local ambassadors to champion your program
To reach team members across the world and get them involved in decision-making surrounding their program, Duck Creek formed a number of councils and committees that work as think tanks for program ideation. From the DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) council to the community partnerships committee, Sage and her team are able to gather opinions and thoughts from multiple individuals and apply them to their initiatives.
Through the Benevity platform the team has also been able to recruit program champions – or passionate individuals within all of their regions – who spread the programs across the world by encouraging everyone to get involved.
“Having the Benevity Champions in all of the different regions has helped us gain positive traction with our employees and communities throughout the globe. It’s been wonderful to create these inclusive think tanks so that we can find opportunities that interest all of our employees.”Sage Milton – Social Impact Lead at Duck Creek Technologies
Another powerful way of getting team members on board with your program across the world is by connecting them through a global partnership in which employees based in different locations can contribute to the same cause.
Partnering with organizations that have a presence globally
As a way of supporting their mission of making tech a more diverse and inclusive space, Duck Creek established a global partnership with Girls Who Code back in September of 2021.
With free programming for young female, non-binary, and non-gender conforming individuals, this partnership directly addresses their mission to support gender diversity in tech, making this partnership meaningful and authentic to their purpose as a company.
“Being a technology company and supporting Girls Who Code was an obvious decision for us. They are on a mission to close the gender gap in tech while currently creating the largest pipeline of female engineers. I cannot say enough positive words about how great the Girls Who Code community is. Simultaneously while these young girls are learning to code, they’re also developing skills in the areas of bravery, resiliency, confidence and activism. By being a corporate sponsor for Girls Who Code, Duck Creek is supporting their mission by helping to provide those programs for free.”Sage Milton – Social Impact Lead at Duck Creek Technologies
Moreover, the fact that Girls Who Code is an international organization with branches, or clubs as they call them, across the world, speaks to Duck Creek’s global, remote-first environment. This enables employees in different locations to get involved in the same cause within their local community, connecting them back to their fellow team members around the world and to the company’s greater mission.
“The organization operates in almost every country where we see our highest employee populations and our employees are incredibly supportive of Girls Who Code. I often provide the tools that Girls Who Code gives us to our employees who express interest in starting a club. I believe our employees find it appealing that you can become a volunteer within those clubs on your own time. I think we’ve had a strong partnership with Girls Who Code because our employees are fully supportive of this partnership.”Sage Milton – Social Impact Lead at Duck Creek Technologies
Thanks to their efforts and the commitments of their employees, the team has:
- Logged over 855 volunteer hours over the span of 7 months
- Donated over $30,000 to Ukraine relief organizations
- Launched a successful One Duck Creek Diversity Summit, partnering with Pine Street Inn to create over 50 permanent placement bags for previously homeless individuals
“We’ve seen engagement go up since working on the Benevity platform as we now have a plethora of opportunities where our employees can search for organizations and events that mean something to them.”Sage Milton – Social Impact Lead at Duck Creek Technologies
Tips & advice for other companies
- “Don’t boil the ocean.” In other words, small steps and goals over time will lead you to more successful long-term outcomes.
- Create a program that truly aligns with your company’s core purpose so that it makes sense with your business outputs. For example, as an insurance company, Duck Creek puts a focus on disaster relief, which is the main cause for many of the claims that come through their platform.
- Have stakeholders, whether it’s the board of directors or employees, hold the company accountable for living out the corporate values and CSR programs.
“My advice is to start by completing a three to five year goal setting exercise, and then getting key stakeholders, including executive stakeholders, involved early on. This gives you adequate time to solidify and communicate the highest priorities for your employees and for your company. It is important to remind ourselves that we are not going to see immediate change overnight. It is crucial to remain flexible and willing to shift your strategy or the metrics you’re trying to achieve.”Sage Milton – Social Impact Lead at Duck Creek Technologies
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