A roadmap for corporate social responsibility

A roadmap for corporate social responsibility

March 6, 2015
A roadmap for corporate social responsibility

“No great thing is created suddenly.” It’s as true today in San Francisco as it was in first-century Greece (hat tip to Epictetus). In fact, it’s the principle behind the development of our community programs at Zendesk.

We’re no philosophers, but we’re pretty good at acronyms, which is how we came up with LET SEEP—our roadmap for corporate social responsibility.

Listen
Explore
Try

Solidify
Execute
Evaluate
Permeate

Although Zendesk has been following this basic formula in our corporate social responsibility (CSR) planning since the beginning, this newly formalized structure helps us share our CSR process, as we’ll be doing at the CSR Meetup at SXSW on March 14 (see what else Zendesk is up to at SXSW this year).

Let’s see how LET SEEP works in practice by exploring the origins of a new community program. Last month, Zendesk unveiled its job skills-focused bootcamp, Zendesk Basics Community Certification, with Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC). This two-day course helps students, who are in need of employment, gain the soft skills necessary for a job in customer service, while gaining a basic understanding of Zendesk’s software. The idea is that by creating a very targeted curriculum, clients of BAVC can be competitive candidates when seeking a support role with Zendesk or any of the tens of thousands of companies that use Zendesk’s customer service platform.

Here’s how the program was developed using LET SEEP.

Listen
After moving to the Mid-Market area of San Francisco in 2011 and listening to community members, we learned that what our neighbors really needed was jobs. We heard this from the City, from nonprofits, and from the residents themselves. Yet, as new residents of the area, we didn’t know the lay of the land regarding workforce development.

Explore
So, we began exploring. We researched local nonprofits and city agencies that are in workforce development. Through this, we learned about TechSF, an arm of San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development that provides training for individuals seeking work in the IT field, which seemed like a perfect fit.

Try
Next, we tried out some ideas. We hosted mock interviews, spoke on panels, and offered curriculum feedback, but these efforts did not make as much of an impact in the community as we were hoping.

Solidify
Through our trials in working with TechSF, we solidified a new plan. We decided the best way for us to help people get jobs was by giving them the kind of targeted job skills that would make it possible to attain a position at a company like Zendesk.

Execute
At this point we worked with BAVC and developed our course curriculum. Once all of the details were ironed out, we executed the program. With Zendesk volunteers as instructors, we taught three certification sessions in February.

Evaluate
Immediately following the initial sessions, we began evaluating the program. After speaking with the trainers, BAVC staff, and students, we continued to modify the program to make it as successful as possible. In the coming months, we will check up with students to see if this training helped them gain employment and what can be improved in the process.

Permeate
Finally, we will permeate this program. We will see how we can continue to build it out through job fairs for the students and targeted mock interviews as well as implementing similar programs in the communities around our other office locations.

Through our LET SEEP process, we were able to establish a strong workforce development program that is deeply rooted in the needs of the community. As Zendesk continues to build out our CSR program we’ll keep using the LET SEEP model to ensure that we’re always listening to our community and focusing on the best outcomes for our neighbors.

Learn more at “We Are Not Robots: A CSR Meet Up” on March 14 at SXSW in Austin

See Zendesk’s complete 2015 SXSW schedule

Download our one-pager outlining LET SEEP

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