In the lead-up to the 2014 Volunteer Wellington Employee Volunteering Awards, we will share profiles of some of the six judges who are reviewing award nominations.
Dr Louise Lee talks to us about her teaching and research, the reasons why she agreed to become involved in the awards and what she’ll be looking for when she judges this year’s entries.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m an academic at Massey University in Wellington, currently based at the School of Management. I teach business ethics/business and society papers. The focus of my research is corporate social responsibility issues, especially employee volunteering. I am also on the Board of Volunteering New Zealand.
How prevalent is employee volunteering in New Zealand?
Since I started researching this area about 15 years ago, I’ve seen a huge growth in interest around the country. And this growth seems to be continuing. At the moment, there’s a global trend towards skills-based employee volunteering, where employees use their professional skills in the field. There is growing interest in that type of volunteering here. In general, I’m very optimistic about the future of employee volunteering in New Zealand.
What is the value of employee volunteering for businesses and for community organisations?
Employee volunteering programmes let businesses demonstrate that they are part of their wider community. Plus, there are all sorts of benefits for their employees – skills development, team development, leadership development. For community organisations, it means practical help, tangible help – with a team of volunteers dedicated to a project for a set period. Employee volunteering often enables projects to take place that may not normally happen, that community organisations may not have the resources for. And you really can’t underestimate the important connections that are made between businesses and community organisations during these sorts of projects. It’s a really exciting opportunity for long-term strategic relationships and partnerships to form.
Why did you decide to get involved in the Volunteer Wellington Employee Volunteering Awards?
I think it’s a great chance to publicise and give recognition to employee volunteering and the great work volunteers do in our communities. Events like this make employee volunteering more visible. Also, it gives businesses the opportunity to think about and talk about their employee volunteering programmes. It’s an important occasion for businesses to come together and potentially learn from each other. Hopefully the awards will help businesses further develop their employee volunteering programmes.
What kinds of things are you hoping to hear from entrants?
I want to learn about volunteer initiatives that achieve meaningful results for communities, employees and business. So I’m going to be looking for programmes that have clear objectives and engage employees in a variety of ways to support community causes they are passionate about.