Friday, January 16, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Social Engagement

One of the things that I would like to do during this next year is to become more socially engaged. (I’m waiting to hear back from some interviewing that I’ve done at Deere before I become committed, because I’d hate to commit to something and then leave in a few months.)

At Deere, employees are encouraged to contribute to United Way (my thoughts about that are in another post) and to participate in build days with Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity is great, but when they push the religious angle, it really turns me (and several others) off. I really feel that promoting these two programs (at the exclusion of others) encourages employees to ignore the myriad ways in which they can contribute.

There are thousands of ways in which we can be involved in our communities, but we don’t encourage social engagement generally. I think that it would be great to get some sort of partnership going with a local school and have engineers tutoring math, or helping to teach language, or going to speak with classes. I’d love to go speak with German classes about where their language skills can take them. (I actually do this, on my own time.) A colleague suggested recently that Deere give a few “social engagement” days, in addition to vacation days, so that employees can contribute to their communities in ways in which they feel most comfortable. This is a great idea, and something that I think we should push at Deere.

What do you do to be socially engaged? Do you think that this is important?

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