Guest Opinion: Community engagement is a working model for corporate citizenship

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This is a guest opinion column

Our communities shape us and make us who we are. That’s why at Verizon, we take action to give back to the communities we serve through a commitment to economic, environmental and social progress to improve our shared future.

As a company with a very diverse workforce serving an equally diverse set of customers, we’ve been giving back to communities for years, often working with large, well-known nonprofits in a variety of ways. And recently, our team has developed an additional new approach to engaging with community groups at the local level. We are focused on building impactful relationships that benefit community members, employees and other stakeholders, of all kinds, like never before.

For every large, well-known nonprofit group, there are countless other smaller organizations that also support their communities and neighbors. At Verizon, we’ve found that partnering with these small groups and providing assistance that goes far beyond a simple monetary donation can have a huge impact and create benefits for everyone involved.

We call it local or community engagement, and it starts with just listening. We’ve found that when Verizon employees take the time to listen and understand what’s happening at a hyper-local level, we can meet the community where they are most effectively.

Local engagement is a long-term effort. It takes real commitment up front, spending hours doing background research, understanding key organizations and neighborhoods, and listening to small nonprofits, activists, and other community leaders. This initial effort allows us to begin to appreciate what really makes a community tick and what resources we can bring to the table.

Verizon has engaged with communities across the country, with tangible results. For example, in Chicago, again after working closely with community leaders, Verizon partnered with a local technology and business incubator to create a pipeline program – including capital, mentorship and other opportunities. of resources – to grow Black and Latino businesses and amplify metropolitan innovation. ecosystem. Verizon has also been a full partner of Tech Birmingham for several years, working to strengthen the tech ecosystem in the region by helping to train, recruit and retain technology talent and entrepreneurs, especially HBCU graduates. In New England, following conversations with community leaders and a detailed analysis of local priorities, Verizon worked with the local library system to fund programs focused on workforce development and l inclusion, and has engaged with a local foundation board to directly support community efforts. These are just a few examples of the hundreds of partnerships Verizon has with local communities across the country.

Volunteerism is another key element of our concrete local engagement strategy, and our employees have stepped up their efforts in remarkable ways. Last year, our employees volunteered 529,000 hours of their personal time to support their communities. This includes 1,260 hours of mentoring small business owners, 18,814 hours of online tutoring of Title 1 students in STEM subjects, and countless hours of collecting 10,000 pounds of trash and assembling over 18,000 care kits to help communities affected by natural disasters.

This direct involvement in local projects has helped build closer relationships – and more trust – between Verizon and the communities it serves. We still have a lot to learn and a lot of work to do, but one thing is certain: we are all better off when we work together to improve our communities. The more local, the better.

Lydia Pulley is Senior Vice President of State Government and Legal Affairs at Verizon

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