Why business leaders should be giving back

By Brett Sainty, CEO of Property Insurance Initiatives

Like many of his generation, my grandfather, Bert, served in the armed forces in the Second World War. Amongst many other things, this experience shaped an attitude within him that inspired him to have an unquenchable desire to help other people.

Perhaps it was the outstanding team spirit instilled in him by the armed forces, or the awful experiences he witnessed in terms of what mankind could do to one another, which brings to mind a simple question which was best asked by another hero of mine, Dr Martin Luther King of an audience in Montgomery, Alabama in 1957:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’“.

These words have followed me throughout my life, and as I developed my career in the insurance industry, I benefitted from the great generosity of others in the form of mentoring and coaching. I believe that we all have a responsibility to give this back and, where possible, take this to the next level.

Improving community and helping others through volunteering is more important to the world now than ever before. I have spent the past two years as a Professional Bodies Champion at the Chartered Management Institute and I was recently appointed to the Board of Trustees for the Citizens Advice Bureau.

As a CEO, it can be hard to justify giving back when you’ve got a business to run. But volunteering does far more than make you feel good about yourself. It’s a valuable tool for the senior management team and can even help your business. I’ve identified some reasons why CEOs should invest their time in helping others.

It sets a good example

As a CEO, you’re a pillar of your local community and your business. Others take their lead from you. When employees see their CEO going above and beyond to help others, it humanises them. The person in the corner office isn’t all about the bottom line, they are interested in making the lives of others better.

Building a community for the future

Volunteering helps improve the world you live in now and ensures that you’ll want to live in that community in the future. It spreads compassion and empathy, and a job well done can make you proud of your community in a different way from that of business success.

It’s a networking tool

Volunteering doesn’t have to be an entirely selfless act. By getting involved and meeting new people, you’re raising the profile of your business and yourself. Connecting with others and sharing your knowledge can help you make the introductions you need to take the next step with your company.

It gives your employees a sense of purpose

Motivating your employees can be a real challenge. Volunteer work, helping others and giving back to the community is a good way to remind employees of the wider focus of the company. Employees that understand the bigger picture (and are driven by helping people) are more productive, happier, and harder working. Why not introduce a ‘working in the community day’, when employees take a day off work to volunteer in local charitable organisations, community initiatives or do something to help a cause close to their hearts.

Finally, talented business people sharing experience and time with those that need help is often so much more effective than making a financial contribution.