On June 14, 2017, the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce (NVCC) presented the Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards, which honor individuals, businesses and non-profits in Northern Virginia for above-and-beyond business leadership, employee engagement, and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
This year, ARServices was named a nominee for the Outstanding Corporate Citizen of the Year award in the Mid-Size Business category. This honor is a direct result of the company’s stalwart dedication to giving back to its community, and making CSR a cornerstone of its business and operations.
In advance of the awards luncheon, representatives of the NVCC spoke with ARServices’ Human Resources Manager, Andrea Robinson, about the role of CSR within the enterprise, ARServices’ CSR strategy and what sets them apart from others in the federal contracting space.
Here is what Andrea told them:
NVCC: Why do you believe CSR strategy is important for a company?
Andrea Robinson: No company operates in a vacuum. For a company to be successful, it needs the support and assistance of the communities in which it operates and serves. It’s therefore only right, and essential, for companies to give back to those communities and show their appreciation.
But there’s more to charitable works and philanthropic endeavors than just giving back. There are other benefits to a company that extend beyond the feeling that comes from doing good work.
Companies that make CSR a priority across their enterprise will find – much like we do at ARServices – that the workplace and the workforce improve by making community service a core pillar of your organization. Employee morale increases when the company puts its support – in the form of both financial and time commitments – beyond an organization or cause that they’re passionate about personally.
Collaboration and teamwork improve, and a workforce becomes tighter and more cohesive through the performing of charitable works. ARServices’ workforce collaborates and cooperates better since we’ve implemented our Day of Service program and begun organizing service activities for our employees to volunteer together.
They’ve learned more about each other, and what they’re individually passionate about, and what drives them. And they’re a better team as a result.
The benefits to the employees, the workforce and the team make the company’s CSR strategy an important part of its activities. Giving back to the community and showing our appreciation makes us stronger.
NVCC: Do you believe that the CSR work you participate in should be affiliated with the work you/your company does? For example, should an Oil company’s CSR be in cleaning up oil spills?
Andrea Robinson: I certainly feel that having a CSR strategy, and aligning that strategy with the company’s mission and vision is important. It helps to more closely engrain the organization in the markets and communities that it services and gives employees insights and understanding of the organizations and individuals they’re servicing.
For example, ARServices is a government contractor that generates 100 percent of its revenue from government contracts. The largest contracts that the company supports are those with organizations within the military community. As a result, ARServices works extensively with charitable organizations philanthropies that service both retired, and active duty military members and their families.
Our focus on supporting veterans organizations and services that benefit military personnel and their families is our way of giving back to the community that has helped make our company a success and put their trust and faith in us to help them accomplish their mission.
Simultaneously, our hiring of veterans and military family members, as well as our support of veterans charities and organizations, helps ARServices and its employees become further engrained in the organizations that we serve. This gives our employees a better, deeper understanding of the unique challenges facing our customers, and helps us better position the company as a resource to help them overcome those challenges.
That being said, serving and hiring veterans is also just the right thing to do. Many service members are not provided optimal support upon transitioning out of the military. We strive to fill that gap. And by doing so, we’re getting an extremely disciplined, well-trained workforce that is more knowledgeable about the challenges military service members face.
NVCC: What makes your company stand out compared to other companies participating in CSR?
Andrea Robinson: I think what makes ARServices different is its focus on its employees.
Although ARServices does have a strategy for its CSR program and does work with strategic organizations, the company also likes to remain flexible in its philanthropic and charity activities and programs. This enables employees to take ownership of their philanthropic activities and work with causes and organizations that they are truly, personally passionate about.
For example, the company sponsors its annual Day of Service program, which provides a company-paid day of personal leave to all employees for use in the participation of philanthropic activities. Although the company does organize and finance volunteering opportunities for its employees, they’re also free to use their company-paid day of leave to volunteer with an organization of their choice.
That day can be used by ARServices employees to volunteer on any weekday and at any time during the 2017 calendar year, and for a charity that they are personally invested in, and passionate about.
Should they not have an organization to work with individually, the company also organizes its own events to provide them with opportunities, including the recent event with the local Washington, D.C.—based charity, SOME, which involved the company paying for and serving food to more than 350 people in the Washington, D.C. area.
ARServices also works with employees to make charitable donations to the organizations that they’re personally passionate about. In total, the company made more than $30,000 in contributions to organizations chosen by the company, and those chosen by individual employees, in 2016.
NVCC: Do you believe contributing back to the community allows your company to have a deeper connection with its clients/customers?
Andrea Robinson: Most certainly. That’s especially in the case for ARServices, considering its unique relationship with the United States military and federal government.
As we discussed, ARServices generates 100 percent of its revenue from government contracts, and the largest of those contracts are for delivering services to organizations within the United States military.
In addition to heavily recruiting and hiring veterans for positions within ARServices, the company also actively participates with charities and organizations that give back to veterans and members of the armed services.
ARServices is a member of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, a DoD program that works to provide educational and career opportunities specifically for military spouses. Our clients understand our commitment to helping military families when they see our MSEP logo proudly displayed on our leave behind materials.
The company’s large percentage of veteran employees and its work with organizations that service retired and active duty military members, and their families, is essential in driving connections with the community we serve, and foundational in the company’s ability to understand the challenges facing the military, and sell its services into the military.
NVCC: What advice would you give to companies trying to participate in CSR?
Andrea Robinson: I would offer the following three tips: