|e-Connections: June 2013|
Dear colleagues and friends,
With the passing of dearly loved friends I find myself recalling the impression they made on my life. One in particular often said "what goes around comes around”, usually in response to something smart that I’d said, and his words always provoked a laugh because I knew he’d eventually exact revenge. I think his words aptly address the nature of our actions: when we do that which is good, it comes back to us and usually in greater volume than the original act. In organizations, this premise is expressed by the words "social responsibility”. But individuals like me and my friend (and you!), can also be socially responsible. We can give our time and our talents as volunteers in the effort to help our sisters and daughters around the world. When we do, our efforts return to the world in the form of educated women and girls, thoughtful new leaders and burgeoning communities.
The United Nations describes social responsibility as the "Triple Bottom Line” of people, planet and profits. In other words, organizations must take responsibility for the impact that their actions or products exact on the environment (planet) or their community of stakeholders (people) while maintaining their ability to be a sustainable organization (profitable).
U.S. economist Milton Friedman wrote in 1970 that "there is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits…” Although I admire and respect Friedman’s work, this was a point with which I simply could not agree. So, I conducted my own poll on Facebook, and was not surprised that 100% of the respondents disagreed with Friedman. Rather, we agreed with the words of Whole Foods founder and CEO John Mackey, who said "It is the function of [company] leadership to develop solutions that continually work for the common good.”
Advancing social responsibility can change the world. Recently interviewed by Rotary International about The Gates Foundation’s goal to change the world through giving, Bill Gates mused, "if each company can think about how 5% of their innovative power could focus on the needs of the poorest and how we could tap more scientists, more resources, more abilities…it can be very energizing”.
TIAW exists to change the world by expanding the economic empowerment of women. Each individual and association member is a passionate advocate that helps us all achieve this goal together. I am a firm believer in the childhood maxim that "inch by inch, everything’s a cinch”.
Friends and fellow leaders, your path is clear. Do that which is in the common good, and it will come back to you.
Lisa Kaiser Hickey
TIAW’s mission is to connect leading women’s organizations worldwide to leverage their reach and resources, creating a global community of economically empowered women.
Economically empowered women become self empowered and self empowered women can change villages, cities, communities, the world.
What does this mean to you, the professional woman, the business woman?
This global community of economically empowered women for the most part is achieved through the work of volunteers. The majority of us have volunteered in some capacity throughout our life be it at school, work, church or community. Many times it was for reasons related to cost saving for these organizations.
We have all heard the African proverb, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ well I believe that ‘one woman can empower a village.’ You can be that one woman.
Research shows that a community approach to volunteering produces powerful results. TIAW uses this approach in their volunteer programs.
You can be that woman but you ask what do I need to make that difference? Ask yourself these questions.
It is your skill, knowledge and desire to make a difference that is needed.
You have the power to positively impact the lives of other women.
To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.
Plan today to follow up with TIAW to see how you can be that ‘one woman’.
This is a very important topic in the life of people with disabilities since most of them enjoy
serving people without looking back for any reward. Most of them believe they can play their part in the world by using their expertise and skills anywhere they find themselves. They work very assiduously to make great changes despite all odds. Most of them are always guided by their passion, personal experience, and are mission focused rather than profit driven and above all, they focus on transformation. We need to learn from this type of full commitment or dedication to mankind.
This reminds me of Joshua, one of my best friends who was blind and from a very worthy family. After our secondary school, he went to volunteer with a health non- governmental organization. He was their IT (Information Technology) officer who was loved so much by many for his dedication to work. Many of his colleagues at work were always eager to learn from him especially about his satisfaction he got from his work.
Very ironically, he became very seriously sick because of change in the weather and other cultural shocks from nature. Although, his family tried in so many ways to bring him back home for treatment; he refused. He was very firm in informing them that he preferred to die at a post as a volunteer than to be sent home for a luxurious life. Indeed, he died at post where he was buried. This is how far people with disabilities can go if they are ready to make a change. Joshua always comes to mind when we talk about volunteering and I guess you will learn at least one reason for volunteering and share it with other friends.
by Nicole Harber, Volunteer with Cross Cultural Solutions
This past December, I volunteered in Tanzania teaching a group of supremely lovable 10-13 year olds. It was important to me to contribute to a project that was community driven. I wanted to address a real need identified by local people, and with Cross-Cultural Solutions, all partners with whom CCS volunteers work are locally run. The community identifies a need, and CCS volunteers provide supplemental support.
So how was the need for volunteer English instructors identified? Well, in Tanzania, primary school is taught in Swahili, and students learn English casually. However, in order to move on to secondary school—taught exclusively in English—students have to pass a test administered in English. So you can see how the community determined that fluent English-speaking volunteers like me could help students achieve English proficiency. As a volunteer, I also freed up staff so that they could focus on the 1000 other tasks that go into running a school. While I was in front of the classroom sharing my favorite Dr. Seuss book, staff members were able to sew bags to be sold to raise money for supplies.
But the experience is more than a series of acts or lessons, or words taught. I was left with a deep connection both to this school, the community of Moshi and the individuals I spent each day with. Every morning, before leaving the CCS Home-Base I would get ready for my volunteer assignment by putting on my kanga—a colorful piece of material that can be worn
as a skirt. And everyone morning when I arrived at school, 13 year old girl named Hope would re-wrap my kanga so it looked right. On my last day she pulled me aside and handed my camera to another student. "Can you video tape this?" She said, " You don't know how to wear a kanga and I won't be there to do it for you when you go home, so let's tape me putting it on you so you can do it yourself." All of this time, I thought I was the one looking out for her, but in that moment, I knew it went both ways.
After just two weeks in Tanzania, it was clear to me that my efforts were an important link in a very long chain of CCS commitment to the community. Cross-Cultural Solutions completely changed my capacity to understand—and to be a part of—making a difference. My experience taught me that real change is happening around the world. But the face of effective international development isn't big and bureaucratic. Instead, it can be the smiling face of a dedicated and passionate local person. And it can be me, if I want it to be. The people I met volunteering—both my fellow Cross-Cultural Solutions volunteers and the staff at the organizations—remain heroes of mine. I feel less cynical, more empowered, and infinitely lucky. There is never a reason to feel helpless.
Last month, I had the pleasure of delivering the luncheon keynote at the 15th Annual Women in the Black Women's Business Conference in Harlem.
My topic was about leadership but my message was about knowing who you are, boldly claiming what you want, and choosing to lead your life with the priorities that are most important to you.
As I shared my story in the opening part of my presentation, I spoke about two things:
1) Leadership. What it is and what it isn’t.
I’ve learned through my work in leadership that the word "leadership" can conjure up all sorts of images and thoughts - and it's easy to get trapped into thinking that it's about a title and you're either "born a leader" or need an MBA or extensive training to learn the skills of leadership.
Leadership is about influence and you are either influencing where you want to go or being influenced by external forces.
2) How I define success.
Using Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem entitled, "What is Success?” To know one life has breathed easier because I have lived, this is to have succeeded.
Success has always been about making a difference in the lives of the people I meet on my journey.
And, it is directly related to
One of the ways in which I find I can have the biggest impact in making a difference is through volunteering.
In 2011, the United Nations did a report on the social effects of volunteerism. What they found was evidence that volunteering affects three key areas – economic development, social inclusion contributing to safer, stronger communities, and the personal impact that volunteers receive from giving of themselves without expecting monetary gain.
A study form the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies 2011 found that "approximately 140 million people in the 37 countries engaged in volunteer work represent the equivalent of 20.8 million full-time equivalent jobs contributing around $400 billion to the global economy annually.”
I’ve seen it impact education, diffuse conflict, and I know that when I give back and share my time, talents, and treasure the organization which I am serving grows as well as my own perspective and overall health and well-being.
I believe the three biggest (3) benefits that you get when volunteering that will enable you to make a difference in the world are:
The world is in need for difference makers.
And, remember, you're either influencing or being influenced.
What will you do to reach out and make a difference through volunteering today?
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