September 7, 2005

Corporate Social Responsibility in Action

Nora Seymour and Jane Stewart, the founders of WordBuilders, focus their efforts on enabling a world where - people love the work they do because it engages their own heartfelt values and goals. A world where organizations thrive by aligning with their customers, staff, management and all other stakeholders towards projects that enhance society and profits at the same time.

Since Monday August 29th there has been much coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. An initiative called Recovery 2.0 has been proposed to facilitate the rebuilding. Our strong belief is that Nora and Jane’s WorldBuilders’ initiative can add great value to Recovery 2.0…and that is why I think you will want to read this interview.


Q: Why did you start WorldBuilders?

A: The WorldBuilders concept was created 3 years ago as we felt that there was something missing in the traditional career development, skills management, training and recruiting tools that we had worked with. We believe that people want to do what they love and love what they do. They want their work to be a meaningful extension of themselves. They want more alignment with their work, its purpose, role, impact and the legacy it leaves the world.


Q: What does Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mean to WorldBuilders?


A: WorldBuilders facilitates people’s sense of satisfaction achieved from the opportunity to express their purpose through work by aligning them with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects sponsored by their organization. We do this by:
· Supporting organizations to identify, launch and leverage CSR projects that benefit the organization, individuals, the community, the environment and the world as a whole
· Providing methodologies, tools, and mentoring that facilitate the identification and attainment of engaging, meaningful life work

The people involved are from both organizations and stakeholders who share an interest in identifying and engaging in work that is personally fulfilling and globally meaningful. They include
• management and workers at any level in an organization
• retirees
• community volunteers
• students
• community volunteers
• students

Q: The impact of Hurricane Katrina has been devastating both on people and the institutions that employ and support them. What advice do you have for employers and employees wishing to make a difference to the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast States?

A: So many of us want to help but we are standing on the sidelines, perhaps sending money. Of course sending money is important and necessary but we want to do more -- to be more involved in helping the people, in the rebuilding of that beautiful region, and in making sure that the environment is returned to a state where that such a catastrophic disaster won’t happen again. Rather than scattered and perhaps unproductive efforts, by employing WordBuilders’ methodologies and on-line tool, employers and employees can determine the projects that best fit their strengths and skills and collectively rally around those projects. The results will be swift and important aid to the Gulf Coast States along with organizations and their stakeholders who will know that their efforts have made a meaningful and lasting difference.

Q: Are there economic, strategic and social benefits for a company when going ahead with a CSR Program?

A: From an organizational viewpoint, Bob Willard in his book, “The Sustainability Advantage” stated that engaged employees results in an increased an overall productivity of 10.5%. As well, organizations stand to benefit from:
• Enhance brand, image & reputation with all stakeholders
• Reduce risk through engagement with stakeholders
• Transparency
• Sustainability
• Woo new stakeholders who are the right fit

We know that purpose and alignment of personal values are important to employees, specifically around the environment and working with others. Engaging people through WorldBuilders will:
• Renewed fulfillment in role within organization
• Stakeholders’ values and intentions respected
• Stakeholders’ and organization’s values aligned
• Satisfaction of participating in a resonant and engaging process

Q: What is the WorldBuilders Online Tool and how can it help?

A: Rather than just ask users to list their skills and competencies, we took a new approach. We created a framework that allowed individuals to explore:
· Areas that they were interested in, e.g., publishing, financial services, community and social services, etc.
· Roles they wanted to perform. For example, did they want to a writer, an editor, a change agent
· Their signature strengths or their most important values and interests based on Martin Seligman’s research published in the book “Authentic Happiness.”

Skills and competencies are associated with each role. Once they decide which roles were right for them, they add them to their personal profile. They then match themselves against jobs, projects, internships or mentoring opportunities which have been posted by employers and NGOs. This allows them to align themselves with an organizational project that best fits who they are and what they want to do. It gives them an opportunity to participate in community-altering, world transforming results. We are amazed at what they learn about themselves, and so too are the users.

The feedback from our pilots was very positive. The users told us it was easy to use and provided them with a very interesting and new perspective on possible career paths and more important in themselves – as well as getting them involved in meaningful, satisfying volunteer projects.


Q: Can you tell us a bit about what you hope to achieve and your plans for the future?

A: We envision that WorldBuilders, by matching people to projects that engage and fulfill their desire to make a meaningful difference through their work, will align the workplace, education and the community to fulfill all three sphere’s goals and aspirations.

Imagine a world where: People love the work they do because it engages their own heartfelt values and goals. Organizations thrive by aligning with their customers, staff, management and all other stakeholders. We believe WorldBuilders will be an important part of achieving this vision. In short, we are planning on helping to change the world for the better.

For more information about WorldBuilders go to: www.WorldBuilders.ca

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