Social Responsibility = Happiness

September 9, 2009

By Tina M. Seidel, President, Sanford-Brown College - Collinsville

I'm an optimist. I always think that the cup is half-full rather than half-empty and I attribute much of my general happiness to this outlook. Lately, I've been overly happy, if that is a possible state of being, and I believe it is because I work for a company that truly embraces social responsibility.

At first, I didn't even know what the term "corporate social responsibility" meant. Is it going green, making large charitable donations, or encouraging employees to donate their time? The answer can be yes to all the above but it has become evident to me that a company needs to really invest in the effort from the highest levels of management, through the organization, not just talk about it philosophically.

Several months ago, the Sanford-Brown College presidents in the St. Louis area were encouraged to select and join a board of a charitable organization. Being a four-year, breast cancer survivor, I jumped at the chance to work with the Susan G. Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure Finance Committee. Over the last several weeks, I toiled with other volunteers and gleefully counted and reconciled all the money received during the team reconciliation, as well as registration blitz that was held at area malls. Some might think that the actual counting of the money and the realization that the Race for the Cure generated such large donations would be the source of my happiness. However, I came to the conclusion that my delight was the result of being a part of this large, volunteer organization. I was able to work 16 hours, partially during the work week, with the support and blessing of my manager. The icing on the cake was walking in the race on Saturday in my pink survivor shirt with 66,000+ other people who wanted to give of themselves to the mission of this organization! For me that was sheer joy!

This was not an isolated example. Sanford-Brown College is a platinum sponsor of the St. Louis area's American Diabetes Association's Step out: Walk to Fight Diabetes that occurs each fall. This partnership has been a springboard for educating our students and alumni on social responsibility. We hold fundraising events on campus and we join together to participate in the Step Out walks. Last year's events really brought the entire Sanford-Brown community together as a team and included faculty, staff, students, alumni and their families. It just felt good to come together for a great cause and demonstrate to our students and alumni that happiness can occur by being socially responsible.

If you are a business owner, consider the team-building benefits of joining together for a charitable event or consider the benefit to employees who are allowed to participate in a charity of their choice. If you do not have a work-sponsored opportunity, consider volunteering on the weekend. I promise, the time you invest will be returned to you at least ten-fold in an abundance of happiness. I'm proof.

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