Creating a Culture of Giving Back

Qlik’s Chief People Officer, Diane Adams, discusses the effects of CSR on a company and its culture.

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I had a chance to catch up with Qlik’s Chief People Officer, Diane Adams, who leads our global culture and talent organization and is focused on building the Qlik culture—a fun, high-performance culture with people who care about making a difference with our customers and in our communities.

ES: Why is “Take Responsibility” one of the core values at Qlik, and how does it affect the company as a whole?

DA: We believe, in general, that there’s no greater reward personally and professionally than making a difference for others. Social responsibility pays dividends at a business’ bottom line, too. The more a company and its leaders give back, the more successful they both are. If you’re involved in the community and helping others, that nurtures loyalty from both customers and employees, and both will sustain a company through good times and bad. 

ES: Can you give a specific example of a recent CSR endeavor?

DA: In 2015 alone, groups from Qlik embarked on four trips to areas affected by poverty, disease and natural disasters. Most recently some of us went on a charitable mission to Malawi, myself included, with our partner the We See Hope organization. I can say firsthand that the gratification of helping others really energized our team, both during the trip and since we returned home.

 Diane Adams in Malawi

In fact, through our CSR program over $650k was donated in 2014, and over $250k so far in 2015. Qlik goes further to encourage donations by double or triple matching them, like we did after the earthquake in Nepal.

ES: That sounds like quite an experience – does any/every Qlik employee get to participate? How is this reflected and how does it affect Qlik culture and work environment?

DA: Over the years, I’ve found that people who volunteer through their employer have more positive attitudes, and receive higher marks in terms of customer satisfaction. At Qlik, anyone interested can apply to attend a program like the one in Malawi. In fact, close to 100 people applied, which just goes to show that it pays off to hire for culture fits and leadership with regards to giving back!

Every Qlik employee is also entitled to a paid “day out,” in which they can participate in a charitable or volunteer activity of their choice. Some employees choose to pool their resources and work in teams, like a group of Qlikkies did in Lund, Sweden, helping out at the local Ronald McDonald House charity. These days out are highlighted both internally within Qlik, as well as externally via social channels, which is important to show the world what’s important to us beyond the company itself.  

ES: You discuss how to implement a successful CSR/giveback program in your latest book, could you tell us more about those?

DA: To find the right giveback for your organization, talk about it. If you involve team members, they’re likely to be more committed to the giveback. Another method that works really well is to consider a giveback that might dovetail your business, .e.g., software or education. Qlik, for example, donates sizable amounts of its software to education organizations. Or, a company could create a giveback that relates to a colleague, family, or friend suffering from a debilitating disease. For example, one of Qlik’s senior training managers, Shannon Malooly, donated one of her kidneys to her cousin, and also decided to raise money to find research for Polycystic Kidney Disease. In addition to her personal sacrifice, Shannon set up a Giving Page, and Qlik shared her story and the donation link with all team members. Thanks to the generosity of the Qlik team, Shannon achieved 135% of her target fund raising to support research for PKD! Qlik further supported Shannon’s noble endeavor by paying for her airfares between Sweden and the U.S. for the surgery.

CSR is one of many topics I cover in my latest book: “It Takes More than Casual Fridays and Free Coffee: Building a Business Culture That Works for Everyone,” which is now available for purchase on Amazon. The book also offers tangible steps organizations can take to build cultures of success, as opposed to just theory.

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