An article in The Washington Post describes a new and rigorous study by Google that identifies the seven top characteristics of success for their employees. The very skills that Google identifies at the top are nearly the same skills that business people develop by serving on nonprofit boards: "being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.” The Google study was conducted by Cathy Davidson.
As we found in the Better World Leadership study from the results of 957 employee surveys and dozens of interviews, employees who serve on nonprofit boards:
- Develop an appreciation of the perspectives of people whose backgrounds are different than their own.
- Develop greater empathy.
- Develop an average of 6.7 skills, including communication, critical thinking and problem solving, and creativity and innovation.
By preparing and matching their employees to nonprofit boards, companies make it possible for people to develop skills that will make them successful at work, while also ensuring higher rates of employee retention. Additionally, employees who want to serve, but do not yet, include more women, millennials, and people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds than those who already serve on nonprofit boards—a tremendous opportunity to develop greater diversity for leadership. The Better World Leadership study was funded by the American Express Foundation, Dow Chemical, HP, Johnson Controls, PIMCO, and Symantec.
Let 2018 be the year that companies expand and enhance their nonprofit board-matching programs—for success in business and to build a better world.