Each month we feature employers who stand out by going above and beyond to create a positive impact within the community and their workforce. This month we met up with Emergent BioSolutions, a flagship biotech company in Maryland with its headquarters and product development facility in Gaithersburg, two manufacturing facilities in Baltimore and a fill/finish facility in Rockville. This year they will also be celebrating their 20th year anniversary and a track record of innovation and leadership that is driven by vision.
The company’s vision is “To protect and enhance 50 million lives by 2025,” which by itself is worthy of recognition. What made them stand out was how they embody that vision not only through their work, but also through the ways they give back to the community. Their contributions have made an impact externally in their communities, but also internally as they have inspired a workforce of ‘doers.’ Though community volunteering has always been a part of their culture, five years ago they created the eGIVE program to help employees give back more formally, create a greater impact and engage more employees in the process.
The eGIVE program has five focus areas:
- Protecting those who protect us
- Training tomorrow’s scientific leaders
- Advancing global health
- Improving our communities
- Sustaining our environment
Employees have a number of ways to engage. The eGIVE program provides each employee eight hours of PTO per year to use for volunteering. Employees are also able to submit requests to direct a charitable donation to a nonprofit or to recommend a community service activity to benefit an organization aligned with the five focus areas.
There are numerous companies these days who have similar programs, but what sets Emergent apart is how much they invest in making this program truly successful, and the level of engagement they get across the company. Engagement is an important part of Emergent’s culture, and they are good at it. In fact, even the name “eGIVE,” which stands for Give, Invest, and Volunteer in our Emergent communities, was a product of an employee competition to name the program.
Its success is not by chance. eGIVE has been worked into the fabric of their operations and every day work life. Each site or region has an employee-led eGIVE team that ensures visibility of and participation in the program. The teams manage their own budget, evaluate the requests that come in, promote those that are selected, document the events, and tell the stories. Teams promote the program and upcoming volunteer events through a variety of channels, including lunch and learns, email blasts, word of mouth and an eGIVE web portal where employees sign up for events, share pictures and stories from events, recruit others to join, and track the impact their teams have on their communities. Part of their all-company quarterly meeting is even dedicated to eGIVE and opportunities to get engaged.
At the end of the year, Emergent recognizes top volunteers through the Dollars for Doers program, which provides the top 3 volunteers at each site an opportunity to name a nonprofit to which corporate donations of $1000, $750 and $500 are made.
There is a tremendous impact on their employees because of these efforts. eGIVE has been rated as one of the best liked programs in the company, new employees have cited it as a reason they come to Emergent and it has become a source of pride that employees share and bond over. In 2017 they had over 8,000 hours of volunteer time, 53% employee participation and 250 nonprofits supported. Those are statistics of which employees, executives and everyone can be proud.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Lynn Kieffer, VP Corporate Communications, for over an hour about this topic. She helped to start the program five years ago and has been a driving force behind running eGIVE globally ever since. What she’s most proud of is the whole-hearted employee engagement and support from executive management. Emergent executives participate and often match donations raised by their teams. “Our employees and executives walk the talk,” Kieffer said proudly.
But when it came to her best memory from volunteering it was the first time they did the USO Back to School event at Ft Meade. This half day, Saturday event started at 8:00am with manual labor setting up the venue, then four hours of interacting with the kids and parents of hundreds of families, and then breaking the venue down afterwards. As she was hauling tables and chairs back to the truck, she overheard a boy tell his dad, “This was the best day ever!”
“Here I am feeling dead tired and for this kid, it’s his best day ever. It was so uplifting and it became my best day ever too,” Kieffer recollected fondly.
Miko Neri, Senior Director, Corporate Communications also recollected a story that she feels shows the real level of impact their employees can have by giving back. She recalled the very first school tour they did for a group of high school girls as part of a Young Women In Bio (YWIB) event. One of the girls was so enthralled by one of their scientists that she asked her to be a mentor. Her father later sent a note to Emergent that the event really helped his daughter decide on what to major in for college. Years later, that same student attended a panel that featured the Emergent scientist at an MdBio ATLAS College & Career Readiness Program, where she again thanked the scientist she had met at Emergent for inspiring and motivating her to pursue her science career. Her father again noted to Emergent that it was that YWIB event that made the difference in her path.
Not only are these volunteer efforts impacting individuals in our communities but the nonprofits they support also get a highly engaged corporate partner.
“MdBio Foundation is extremely grateful to Emergent BioSolutions for their longtime collaboration and enthusiastic support of experiential STEM programming across Maryland.” Said Brian Gaines, CEO MdBio Foundation. “For many years, Emergent has partnered with our organization to fund hands-on educational programs for under-served middle and high school students”
Other popular groups or events that Emergent employees support locally include:
- Habitat for Humanity
- Northwest High School, Germantown
- Patterson High School, Baltimore
- Family Crisis Center in Baltimore
- BioTechnical Institute of Maryland
- Manufacturing Day
- Beautifying Community Gardens
- Hero Dogs
Emergent BioSolutions is truly a company that stands out and is deserving of recognition for going above and beyond to do good, and they have received quite a few. It’s companies like Emergent BioSolutions, their leadership and their many giving employees that inspire others to do good. We’re proud to have them as such an integral part of the Maryland biotech ecosystem and grateful for the impact they have made here at home and globally to protect and enhance life.
If you’re inspired by this and want to take a more proactive approach at corporate citizenship at your company, Lynn Kieffer has a few closing recommendations for you.
- Focus your efforts on a few areas that tie to your mission and then dive in.
- Set clear goals and guidelines for teams to organize around.
- Empower teams to develop and manage the local program as well as to own building and nurturing the relationship with community organizations.
- Keep at it and improving it. There is no better way than to engage employees and have them champion your cause.
If you would like to learn more about Emergent BioSolutions visit their Corporate Social Responsibility page and read more about the impact they are having by embracing their vision.
Chris Frew, @biobuzzMd
chris @ biobuzz.io