When it comes to its core values, Axis Communications not only talks the talk but walks the walk. It’s a path that has taken employees on service trips and encouraged partners to participate in backpack stuffing projects at conferences, among many other giving-back efforts.
Social responsibility is one of three key pillars, along with environmental responsibility and corporate ethics, of the video networking vendor’s commitment to sustainability.
“We have great core values, and our mission is to make the world a smarter and safer place,” says Scott Dunn, senior director, business development solutions and services, North America. “It doesn't mean just by selling security technology. It means by being good citizens in our community, and pretty much all of our people are active there.”
Axis provides each employee eight hours of paid time off annually to devote to social responsibility, Dunn tells me, which can range from working in local soup kitchens or other charitable endeavors. Employees can also request to go on a service mission with Mission 500, a nonprofit organization that supports underserved children and families across America and abroad and has deep ties with the security industry, which is how Axis got involved.
As a founding sponsor of Mission 500, Axis participates in a variety of the charity’s events, including sending employee teams to Appalachia and most recently to Ponce, Puerto Rico, to help with the continued efforts to rebuild after Hurricane Maria. The company gives employees the time off and foots the travel bill.
Dunn himself will be taking all 40-plus members of his team on a mission in June, in lieu of their annual three-day, mid-year meeting, as a way to give back.
“I usually do some type of team-bonding exercise when I have the team together, because most of my employees are remote, spread all over North America,” he says. “I wanted to do a service trip with Mission 500, and I talked to my leadership team, and they all wanted to do one.”
Dunn say employees who have gone on these service trips always come back with stories about how it impacted them on a personal level, “and how uplifted they feel, and how grateful they are that they work in an organization that cares about these types of things and makes a concerted effort to give back.”
It is not only educational, he says, but “it almost seems like it's a spiritual experience when people come back from it. How excited they were, how good they feel about helping someone else out, and that the company gave them the time and supported them in doing it.”
These experiences are frequently shared and highlighted in Axis’ monthly corporate-wide meeting for its 400 employees across the country.
“We all have kids in school, right? We all have relatives that may be struggling,” Dunn says. “We live in communities that have good areas and poor areas, so everyone knows what this is about, but people want to give back and contribute, and it really helps them bond as teams.”
Axis also tries to involve partners, and offers the opportunity to pack school backpacks, another Mission 500 program, at its conferences. Partners feel good about their efforts, he says, but the impact really hits when someone from the local school comes in to accept the backpacks and talks about how their students may not have coats, or may have their only meal at school. “I remember when we did it in Seattle a couple years ago … you see all these grizzled security veterans in the audience, and they're kind of tearing up, and they get really emotional about it… and then they want to do more. We hope that we're spreading that feeling through the entire industry.”
Dunn is on the board of the Security Industry Association (SIA), which hosts an annual fundraiser for Mission 500, and actively encourages security companies to participate in charitable efforts. “More and more companies in the security industry are getting involved,” he says, “whether it's with Mission 500, or they're supporting their own initiatives.”
It’s good for the industry too, Dunn adds. “We're all struggling at bringing in younger, new generations, [and a] more diverse workforce. Millennials in particular want to work for companies that have a bigger mission and that do good in the world and are responsible. To me, it would be a no-brainer for a young person that wants to do that [to] work in the security industry. Part of our very job is to try to make the world a safer place, but then a lot of these companies are doing good outside of that as well.”
Giving back is also good for Axis. Says Dunn, “Happy employees who contribute to something greater than themselves, they're better people, and they're better team members for us.”
Have a paying-it-forward or not-for-profit story to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.