ALLEN PARK, Mich. - Needy and abused and neglected children are among those who benefit from Export and Growth’s (E&G) year-round focus on helping others.
Through July, employees in E&G’s Allen Park offices raised nearly $7,000 to support seven local charities, with several additional initiatives planned in the rest of the year. In addition to monthly fundraising drives, employees also donate items, which can be anything from canned goods for a local food bank to newspapers to line cages at the Dearborn Animal Shelter.
The monthly activities are organized by a group of volunteers who serve on E&G’s Diversity and Community Service Council, as well as a volunteer champion for each charity.
In addition to cash contributions, employees pay to wear jeans on Fridays, buy sponsored beverages and snacks and participate in pizza lunches and ice cream socials in order to raise funds. Take Your Child to Work Day and E&G’s annual picnics are among the events that double as fundraisers for that month’s charity.
The Capuchin Soup Kitchen and Gleaners Food Bank were among the six organizations receiving contributions in early 2012. Beneficiaries in the second half of the year will include the Salvation Army and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“JDRF is an important cause for us, because so many children are affected by diabetes,” says Laura Alexiou, who chairs the Diversity and Community Service Council. “Ford is an elite principal partner with JDRF, and we support the leadership role the company has taken in this cause.”
E&G’s main offices may be in North America, but it supports emerging markets – Ford Middle East, Caribbean and Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia Pacific – resulting in a desire by employees to learn as much as possible about other cultures, social norms and accepted business practices elsewhere around the world.
With that in mind, E&G began a series of Lunch and Learn seminars to help increase employees’ understanding of other cultures and countries. Through these seminars, employees learn about each country and what constitutes proper communication etiquette to ensure that no obstacles develop that would hinder a successful business relationship. Topics covered even extend to foods of the region/country, which are featured in the lunch portion of the seminars – the most recent of which focused on Sub-Saharan Africa, primarily Angola and Nigeria. Two previous sessions focused on South Korea and Saudi Arabia, E&G’s largest volume market.
“These seminars are valuable because we don’t want to inadvertently offend any of our counterparts or customers,” said Elaine Luther, the executive sponsor of the council. “Respecting cultural differences is important to all of us within E&G.”
To increase inclusiveness in the Allen Park office, the council also organizes diversity/heritage pot luck meals celebrating everyone’s heritage. Employees not only prepare and bring in dishes that mean something to them, they write about their particular dish to help their colleagues gain an understanding of their cultural background.
Members of the Diversity and Community Service Council – and the E&G team – embody the One Ford culture: they are passionate about the business and their customers and demonstrate that passion in their work, in their volunteer efforts, the way they build relationships and inspire others to consider cultural differences in all of their interactions.