Partnerships key to doing good in uncertain times
This article was originally published on The Edge.
Providing consistent economic opportunities for people from all walks of life has proven to be crucial, particularly during periods of uncertainty like the Covid-19 pandemic and the current global instabilities.
This is something that the world’s largest professional network LinkedIn is committed to achieving: shaping its work towards its core vision and corporate purpose of creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
“While talent may be distributed equally, opportunity is not. Often, this is a result of not having the right information and networks. At LinkedIn, we call this the ‘Network Gap’ — the advantage that one person has over another because of who they know,” said Grace Seow, social impact manager at LinkedIn. In an interview with The Edge Singapore, Seow also recognises that this is a complex issue that takes “many hands to tackle”.
As such, in recent times, partnerships have been more important than ever in extending the reach of professional resources that LinkedIn has to offer. From the LinkedIn Coaches programme, the company has partnered with several organisations in Singapore such as Halogen Foundation, Access Singapore, SG Enable and TomoWork to help various groups of society, such as youths from underprivileged backgrounds and persons with disabilities.
The LinkedIn Coaches programme consolidates career conversations, mock interviews, LinkedIn profile and resume reviews for participants needful of career mentorship and guidance. In particular, the programme connects participants with coaches — consisting of a mix of LinkedIn staff and, in some instances, external business professionals across different sectors — to guide them through networking and business opportunities.
Seow notes that via LinkedIn Coaches’ partnership with Halogen Foundation, participants, who largely comprised of students with technical backgrounds from schools such as the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and polytechnics, have been able to receive holistic support including networking experiences that were previously not accessible to them.
“Working professionals are assigned students to partner with, where they can advise on how to best prepare for job prospects, but also to provide a sounding board on professional values, or to simply offer perspectives from a different generation,” she said. “The purpose of the programme is really to provide opportunities for participants to build meaningful relationships with professionals, to help them feel more confident and prepared as they venture out into the workforce.”
“Many colleagues serve as LinkedIn Coaches in Singapore, and the feedback that I’ve received from them is that the experience is meaningful and inspiring,” Seow said, noting that LinkedIn’s clarity of purpose has helped their employees feel more connected to the business, in addition to strengthening the culture of corporate responsibility at the company.
The impact created through the LinkedIn Coaches programme therefore has contributed to the company being conferred Champions of Good 2022.
“The Champions of Good conferment recognises LinkedIn’s work as an ecosystem builder and impact multiplier and is a huge encouragement that we’re on the right track,” said Seow. “We will continue to empower our members, customers, and employees in expanding greater economic opportunities.”
To date, a total of 143 organisations have been conferred Champions of Good.
While LinkedIn celebrates its first conferment, fellow technology company Dell Technologies Singapore are seasoned Champions, as 2022 marks their third conferment. Its global strategic giving and volunteering programmes have benefited over 18,000 non-profit organisations and 159 million people worldwide. In 2021 alone, Dell Technologies Singapore’s total financial contribution to charities and non-profit organisations exceeded US$200,000 ($287,000).
Most pertinently, the company’s long history of strong partnerships with various social impact organisations in Singapore has involved engaging people from all walks of life, from persons with disabilities to students who require support in data research and technological innovation.
In particular, the Dell | MINDS Befriending Programme provided Dell Technologies Singapore’s team members the opportunity to interact with, help and spend time with people with special needs, as an extension of the community outreach aspect of the company’s True Ability Employee Resource Group. Started in 2014, this venture serves as an effective endeavour to raise awareness and education on issues faced by those with special needs and disabilities on a day-to-day basis. As part of the programme, volunteers assist people with disabilities in activities from grocery shopping to leisure outings to the zoo or cinemas.
“Eight years ago, we started out with a small team of five people from Dell Technologies Singapore volunteering with MINDS,” said Ng Tian Beng, executive sponsor for Singapore site community service, senior vice president, channel, Asia Pacific and Japan, Dell Technologies. “Now, we are heartened to see 30-40 people actively involved in this programme every month, with many regulars often returning and numbers constantly growing when bigger events come around.”
Dell Technologies Singapore team members at a MINDS event back in August in celebration of National Day. Photo: Dell Technologies Singapore
The programme has since seen clear results, with the company raising approximately $100,000 per annum for MINDS. At the same time, more than half of Dell Technologies Singapore’s employees have been encouraged to participate in such community service events, clocking nearly 4,500 community service hours annually in total.
According to Ng, the programme has reaped benefits not just for its partner MINDS, but also the community at large at Dell Technologies Singapore, having received “fantastic feedback” from staff who volunteer with MINDS. “Working with MINDS over the past eight years has invariably cultivated a strong, long standing partnership between our organisations,” said Ng. “In that process, our staff who serve as MINDS volunteers have developed personal relationships with many of the people they help, in light of bi-monthly or even bi-weekly meetings to spend time going bowling, visiting the Bird Park or watching movies together.”
“It’s not just about the monetary support we provide that is important here, but also the quality time that we spend with the people we serve,” he added.
Besides involving its people, Dell Technologies Singapore also leverages technology to do good. Several of the company’s partnerships work towards a common focus: creating technologies that effectively drive human progress, shared Ng.
“We believe that everyone in the world, no matter where you live, or what background you come from, should have access to the best technology,” said Ng. “Technology should drive human progress, both in terms of business objectives, and very importantly as well, in societal impact.”
Ng believes this purpose is best actualised via environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance at Dell Technologies Singapore, in order to drive “outsized impact” for society in the most strategic and sustainable ways as a company that does good. Other partnerships that Dell Technologies Singapore has include working with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) on their smart fundraising initiative, in addition to supporting data science research and deep learning models on the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef with the University of Queensland and Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef.
Perhaps this is what keeps companies like Dell Technologies Singapore and LinkedIn steadfast in the work that they do day-to-day, with new core partnerships as a key driver to ensure that ‘doing good’ has long-term value that goes deep and wide.