I’ve worked in a few offices in the Hollywood industry and outside of it that offered no collective opportunities for employees to volunteer or donate to charity. Frankly, it’s a bummer, especially around the holidays. Sure, anyone is free to donate or volunteer their free time outside of work, but there’s something unique in working with co-workers toward goals that are often more noble than deal memos and script coverage.
With shrinking salaries and precious vacation hours, it’s difficult in a 12-hour-workday industry to use one’s own money and time resources to make a difference. And while it’s nice for the bosses to be able to scratch large checks to charity, jet off on an exotic volunteer trip or attend $1000-plate dinners, I think it’s incumbent upon these same employers to provide occasions for their less-well-off employees to share in the giving spirit. Employers, think of it as part of the cost of taking company time for longer lunches and leaving when you want to see your kid’s holiday pageant while the rest of the office stays until 8 P.M.
A charitable spirit in the workplace comes from the top down. Many employers are incredible “Scrooges” with employee vacation and personal hours, as if a few hours here or there will make or break the company’s fiscal year. Allowing some flexibility, such as using some company time to allow employees to volunteer, sends a strong statement about a company’s commitment to the community. It’s also a small gesture that helps retain talented, smart people, who, when this economy eventually recovers, will have some choice in where they work.
Fortunately, even though there are many businesses in the industry that don’t step up, there are many that do. ‘Tis the season to look for the good in humanity and locally, in Culver City, Sony Pictures offers its workers myriad easy ways to volunteer – so many, in fact, that if you’re an employee not taking advantage, you’re missing out.
“In much the same way our business nurtures relationships with actors, directors, screenwriters and others who contribute to our television shows and films, we are also fortunate to have longstanding partnerships with many stellar community organizations,” Janice Pober, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s senior vice president of Global Corporate Social Responsibility told the News.
“We attempt to provide as much variety as possible in our volunteer opportunities so employees with diverse roles and interests across our businesses will find something that catches their eye,” said Pober.
To that end, Sony carved out four particular areas of focus – arts, education, diversity and the environment.
“Our work advocating on behalf of arts education boasts similar longstanding and robust relationships. For example, I have been a member of the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles County Regional Blueprint for Arts Education since 2002. In that time, the program has successfully brought arts education programs back into school curriculums around the county,” Pober said, adding, “We’ve been involved in similar efforts at the city and local Culver City levels, and have made significant inroads in ensuring the arts are an intrinsic part of a student’s core curriculum.”
As for the employee response, Pober explained, “It’s the feeling of accomplishment that they’ve made a difference – in someone’s life when we’ve tapped into their creativity, in taking responsibility for the planet when they clean up a beach, or in someone’s future when they mentor a child.”
If you are a Sony employee not currently engaged in any of the programs, I encourage you to look into it – you’re fortunate to have an employer who cares enough to make it work for you and the community.
Gina hall is a writer/producer with more than 10 years experience in television, documentary and feature film production. She is a graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and lives in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @GScottEnt.