This is a time of year when we are grateful for the people and work that surrounds us. Our good friend Rob Reindl transitioned from corporate life, as CHRO with Edwards Lifesciences, to a blended lifestyle that incorporates fascinating consulting work, giving to the community and sharing his leadership skills with others in unique ways.
Several years ago, Rob began looking at non-profits and the OneOC family offered impressive focus and purpose driven work helping other organizations give back and engage their employees in meaningful work.
In 2015, OneOC launched the Center for Business & Community Partnerships, which helps companies build and grow their giving and employee volunteer programs in order to maximize charitable activities and generate needed resources for local nonprofits.
We sat down with Rob Reindl, now Chairman of the Board for OneOC, to learn a little more about his role and their purpose. We found out that the Center has helped give companies a chance to make a difference in 2015 by supporting 91 organizations, creating 231 new projects and enabling 12,000+ hours of first time volunteer hours.
Sherry Benjamins (SB): Following a successful and rewarding career as CHRO with Edwards Lifesciences, what prompted you to get involved with OneOC?
Rob Reindl (RR): I was lucky to come from Edwards which was extraordinarily innovative and growth oriented. When I decided to retire I knew I couldn’t play golf every day and I wanted to contribute and give back to the community. I had developed these leadership skill sets during my career and saw no reason to let them go stale. There is something intrinsically rewarding about impacting your community.
I researched many non-profit organizations, but felt like my skill set would be valued and have the most impact on a really important cause in our community – helping companies build philanthropy and purpose driven cultures.
SB: Tell us more about your role as Chair for the Board within OneOC?
RR: I was on the board for about a year before I was approached to be the Chair. My main focus is attracting and retaining board members, guiding our meetings, influencing participation by board members and committee members, as well as leading the charge on fundraising.
SB: When you look back at the last year as the Chair, what have you enjoyed most?
RR: I loved the excitement around raising $500,000 for our Center of Business & Community Partnerships. It has been great to see the influence we are having in the first year of this Center’s evolution.
It is inspiring to see the high level of participation by companies and leaders. We are really compelled by the urgent unmet needs in Orange County. Half of the students in Orange County live in families making less than $40,000 a year, 1/3 are not insured or under insured, and 55% of 3rd graders in OC are reading below the proficiency level. Not many people realize the scope of unmet needs in Orange County. I like having a strong line of sight to meeting these needs.
SB: What is the challenge that companies face when they want to build purpose driven cultures?
RR: There is this heavy fixation on profit, especially for public companies. Most people don’t align volunteering and giving with meeting business objectives, but there is a business case of being purposeful. It’s been shown that there is a direct correlation between doing good in the community and doing well in business.
SB: It is not unusual to see the larger firms create foundations and participate actively. Do you see more mid-market companies doing this?
RR: Yes, a great example of a mid-market company seeing the ROI on doing good in the community is Fluidmaster. Fluidmaster has implemented a volunteer program and some relatively small giving initiatives, but have seen profits double and turnover reduce by 20% because of these programs. Employees stay at organizations with purpose. Most employees want to see their work make a difference and have impact.
SB: Where are you seeing the demands for “Growing Volunteerism”?
RR: OneOc is made up of two buckets - giving and volunteering. Volunteering is typically skill based, hands-on experiences. For instance, Disneyland selected approximately 26 employees to donate their skills to a non-profit for a few hours a month. The employees get to develop unique skills and the non-profits benefit from their expertise. It’s an amazing way to make employees feel like organizations care about their development AND care about the community.
Giving is made up of foundation creation, employee gift matching, disaster relief assistance, scholarships, and our gift cards.
SB: What is your advice for leaders/companies starting this journey if they have not created “do good” initiatives?
RR: My biggest recommendation is to think about how your values and skills align with a philanthropic organization. Do your research and talk to a few non-profits and their leadership. Find out how they contribute and what their mission is. Think about where you might contribute your skills and have influence. We find purpose when we are doing things we love, or attempting a new challenge and expressing our thoughts so that actions can be taken for a result greater than ourselves.
It is ok to start small. Build an aligned strategy between your organization and the non-profit you have identified. You don’t have to do large scale volunteering right away; start by giving gift cards for the holidays or participating in hands-on volunteering. Your energy and passion for this will grow and be contagious as others learn what you are involved in.
Most companies are seeking purpose AND profit today. We have to thank the Millennial generation who has moved the needle in this change. They seek out purpose in everything from what they buy to who they work for and relationships they seek. Of course, many generations value purpose. The younger generation has just accelerated this for us. In a time of more uncertainty than ever, we are looking for ways to help those in need and giving back makes sense.
We have entered a new economy, as Aaron Hurst describes in his book, The Purpose Economy. He lays out the context for how people and organizations are focused on value. Rob shared his story about how he found a way to line up his personal values with an organization that embraces those values in his community.
As you reflect on what matters to you most, consider giving in new ways. The great business challenge we face is not how to build a fine tuned machine, but how to build a human-centered organization that does good on all fronts.