How One WLC leader Brings Volunteerism To Work

How One WLC leader Brings Volunteerism To Work

Lisa Shepard, Ernst and Young

More than 160 Ernst and Young staff members participate in an annual Connect Day each year where they volunteer completely re-vamp and beautify a school or agency in need.

How did this annual volunteer day begin/originate?

EY Connect Day is an annual day of service for all of our employees across the Americas and is our largest signature volunteer program.  Ernst & Young launched EY Connect Day in 2010 in response to feedback from our people and in effort to establish a broader focus on employee engagement.  This is a time to celebrate EY's purpose and tagline of “Building a Better Working World” through volunteer activities that support entrepreneurs, education and equity in the workforce.  And it's also a time when we connect with colleagues, strengthen our communities and have some fun. 

The name EY Connect Day was chosen to show our connection to both our communities and one another, and by 2012 EY began to rally around scheduling the event on a single day (a workday, not a weekend or EY holiday) across the Americas.  However, as the chosen day seems to always be in the hot summer months, EY Phoenix generally delays our event until November. While many of our people volunteer throughout the year, EY Connect Day is when we encourage all of our people to volunteer on a single day in order to make an even more significant impact on our local communities.

In Phoenix, we have been teaming with Valley of the Sun United Way (VSUW) to assist in identifying a school or organization with the greatest need and which can accommodate a group of our size.  As you can imagine, there is lots of planning and organization that goes into the event (which is shared by EY, VSUW, and the organization), including identifying the site-specific projects, purchasing necessary supplies, and organizing and overseeing the EY teams, not to mention all the clean-up after the event!

Why does EY leadership invest in exposing all of its staff to volunteerism?

By having EY Connect Day as an annual signature volunteer event, we reinforce our commitment to the engagement of our people. Internal and external studies have shown that people who are engaged feel connected to the Firm, to their teams and to one another. These connections lead to more satisfied employees and higher performing teams. Engagement not only impacts the culture in our teams and offices, but it also helps us serve our clients more effectively. In fact, our studies show that we can predict stronger performance and faster growth in the business units with higher employee engagement.

Through EY Connect Day, EY volunteers have the opportunity to develop relationships inside and outside of the Firm, engage in inclusive teaming, and leverage skills-based projects by sharing professional and other skills with the public. These efforts contribute to our purpose of Building a Better Working World, which starts with our clients and extends into our communities.

What benefits to you see for your staff who participates in the EY Connect Day experience?

First and foremost, we have FUN!  It is a day away from work, in a casual setting, as a group, coming together to make a difference in our communities – a true win-win for everyone!  It also provides an opportunity for our staff to learn about the challenges faced by many people and organizations in our community on a day to day basis, which often leaves a profound sense of gratitude for their own situation.   Further, participating in volunteer activities builds networks and relationships inside and outside of EY, often with people from other cultures and different backgrounds.  All in all, we believe EY Connect Day helps our people to build skills in inclusive leadership, highest-performing teams, project management, creative problem solving, among others, all while working alongside EY senior leaders and partners.

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Lisa is a Partner in EY’s Phoenix Assurance practice, with over 20 years of client service experience.  She has been activity involved in Valley of the Sun United Way since moving to Phoenix in 2012, and is a member of the Women’s Leadership Council Steering Committee and the Tocqueville Society.

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