It might take a village to raise a child, but it takes individuals to build a community. Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz shows us how service can strengthen communities and the world.
As Bob Dylan once said, “You gotta serve somebody.” As true as those words may be, not every business makes the effort to really get their hands dirty or put their money where their mouth is.
Operating on the belief that doing well and doing good are inextricably linked, the Timberland Co.’s CEO, Jeffrey Swartz, walks the talk by advocating the value of socially responsible business.
“Business has never been a more powerful force in our society as it has an enormous impact on our values, our environment and welfare,” Swartz says.
“It is no longer enough to measure a company by standards of profit, efficiency and market share; it’s critical to ask how business contributes to standards of social justice, environmental sustainability and values.”
Timberland will be bringing that service ethic to SkillsUSA’s national conference in June with a community service event that will include 250 lucky participants. Vol-unteers will spend the day renovating a residential care facility for boys in Kansas City, Mo.
In 1989, Swartz forged the path for Timberland’s growing public/private partnership with City Year, an urban youth service corps now in 13 cities throughout the United States. Timberland is a national founding sponsor of that organization, and Swartz serves as chair of City Year’s board of directors.
“While it’s essential that Timberland creates profit for our shareholders, it is just as essential that we create value for our communities,” Swartz explains. “We must serve our customers, shareholders, employees and communities by not only creating economic value, but also social value.”
With building communities included as an integral part of how his company defines success, Swartz developed a Social Enterprise department at Timberland in 1992. He created a program in which all employees receive 40 hours of paid leave to perform community service.
The ethic of service has increasingly become a point of differentiation for customers and consumers. Led by members of the sales and marketing teams, service days are now inspiring and engaging Timberland’s key customers and have served as the highlight of strategic meetings around the world.
Swartz will be addressing SkillsUSA’s national conference participants in a keynote address during the opening ceremony June 25.
SkillsUSA Champions | Summer 2002 | Volume 36, No. 4