Original Date: 02/26/2001
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Community Action Program
Through strong top management support and participation, General Dynamics Armament Systems has become a leader in helping its employees get involved in the community. The Community Action Program features employee- based organizations which coordinate and recognize the charitable efforts of employees. As a result, the level of employee financial participation in local charities has grown to more than 28% in two years. Company leadership and commitment by the employees has created a win-win situation for General Dynamics Armament Systems and the community of Burlington.
General Dynamics Armament Systems (GDAS) is the largest private employer in Burlington, Vermont and one of Chittenden County’s strongest supporters of community involvement. Until the late 1990s, the company had moderate levels of employee financial participation in local charities, and employee participation in community activities was purely a personal initiative. The average financial giving per capita to local charities was approximately $120 with no company support for employee community activities. A change in GDAS’ top management provided the impetus for the development of the Community Action Program.
Two important elements of the Community Action Program are the Employees Community Action Council (ECAC) and the Volunteer Network. The ECAC is an employee-based organization that acts as a focal point and manages and administers the company’s employees’ charitable giving. Members of the Council include all areas of the workforce (e.g., management, leadership team representatives, technical, labor). In addition, the Council directs the charitable giving of employees toward the needs of the community in four different areas: education, culture/arts, civic outreach, and healthcare. Among the Council’s activities are conducting annual fundraisers; working to involve employees with local charitable organizations; allocating fund resources on behalf of members, and keeping members updated on the success of their efforts.
GDAS also implemented the Volunteer Network as a way of encouraging employees to become active volunteers in their communities. The Network operates as a focal point for employee volunteer efforts; formally recognizes employees for their accomplishments in non-charitable efforts and activities; and provides GDAS with employee involvement statistics. The belief is that recognition by peers and rewards by the company will encourage more community involvement by employees; enhance employee pride and morale; and create positive exposure for the company. As the Volunteer Network matures, GDAS anticipates an increase in employee participation.
The Community Action Program places emphasis on employee participation rather than dollar goals. As employee participation increases, the company foresees the level of giving also increasing. Since 1999, employee participation has risen from 56% to 84%. The annual giving by employees has risen to over $60,000 (approximately $155+ per employee) and additional giving by the company to charitable areas is an extra $60,000. Members of the company leadership team now sit on the boards of 29 charitable organizations and are active in 20 other organizations. Company leadership and commitment by the employees has created a win-win situation for GDAS and the community of Burlington.
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