An environment that encourages community giving

This time of year with the NI Gives campaign I’m remind of one of the things I enjoy about the work environment at NI. We don’t just pay lip service to encouraging volunteerism and philanthropy. A large number of NI engineers volunteer in local schools, helping teachers and students learn science and engineering concepts with Lego Mindstorms. This is actively encouraged and when I talk to engineers that take part in the program it’s obvious to see the benefit that they also get from the experience.

For over six years I’ve been on the volunteer board of a local non-profit, Green Doors, that provides affordable housing to formerly homeless vets and to at risk single parent families and NI has been great in allowing me to remain active with Green Doors. These all sound like small things but they do add up and I’m grateful that NI supports these efforts of its employees, here are three things I’ve benefited from:

  • Once a month I leave work early for our board meeting, it’s on my calendar and it’s a time that people don’t get upset about (very busy people with titles much cooler than mine) that time being off limits. Every other week I come in later one day for a meeting with our executive director.
  • Corporate matching yearly of up to $1000 of personal donations and willingness to contribute pro bono work
  • Flexibility … things come up, sometimes during regular work hours and as long as it’s reasonable I’ve always found my managers to be accommodating to me needing to out for a couple of hours during the day

It seemed difficult at first 6 years ago working crazy hours to make time to volunteer but once it beacme part of the routine it hasn’t been as daunting as it once seemed. It really does help that the culture at NI encourages us to find workable solutions that balance our work and personal lives.

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