Connect with Jeana Lee on LinkedIn
Job: Corporate Social Responsibility Program Manager, Unum
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Instead of an interview with Kamber today, you get to hear from her friend instead, Julia (Wilhelm) Gunn (connect with her on LinkedIn!), who stepped into the interviewer role this time:
Hey, YoPros! Julia Gunn here. I’m a friend of Kamber’s and a writer in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m happy to share this great story featuring a friend of mine, Jeana Lee, and some ways to get started with giving back to your community. She’s a corporate responsibility guru and even spent some time on the nonprofit side. We’re both big believers in the power of community and what can happen when people work together.
Tell us about your background.
I got my degree in organizational management and I started working at Unum, in the Family and Medical Leave department. After a couple of years, I decided to take a job on the community relations team and began to manage employee volunteer projects and corporate social responsibility (CSR) engagement. I did that for a couple of years. Then, I took a great opportunity to become the Vice President of Marketing and Community Engagement at United Way of Greater Chattanooga. I learned a lot while being on the nonprofit side for over two years, but now, I’m back at Unum doing what I love: all things corporate social responsibility.
What drew you to corporate social responsibility as a career?
For me, CSR brings all my passions together in one place: strategically driving community impact, empowering volunteers to change the world around them, promoting a purpose- driven brand, data analytics, communications, and so much more. As a professional, I’m dedicated to leaving the world better than I found it and inspiring others to do the same. Getting to do that on behalf of a Global Fortune 500 company is certainly a bonus.
Why do you think workplaces are interested in giving back?
I think it’s the result of several things. The biggest is that employees, particularly the millennials, really appreciate working in places where it’s obvious the organization cares about the community. A lot of companies start CSR programs because of that, but after, they quickly see that the benefit of CSR comes back around to the company. There’s a lot of research that shows how workplaces with CSR programs have employees who are more engaged, more productive, and generally speaking, happier at their workplace. But, I think it’s even bigger than that. If you have an organization in an unhealthy community, those issues are going to trickle down into the workplace.
What do you recommend for a young professional looking to start giving back to their community?
There are several things you can do. One of the most convenient things to do is to participate in volunteering or other CSR activities if your workplace offers them. Like I’ve said, lots of companies are learning that offering ways to give back to your community keeps your employees engaged, happy, and productive. With this, you may even find some activities that you can participate in during your work hours. If your workplace doesn’t offer CSR, you can search for nonprofits in your community. United Way is a great national organization that can connect you to a variety of nonprofits in your community who are always happy to have volunteers! If you’re interested in helping animals, you might want to consider the Humane Society or other nearby shelters in your community. Another great thing for young professionals to consider is mentoring. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a great national mentoring organization that provides mentors with a ton of great resources to help make their mentor match a successful one. I recommend looking at an organization’s website and calling to see how you can give back.
The YoPro Know's Takeaways:
- CSR is a career path that not many YoPros know about
- Having a CSR program within your company will quickly show benefits in your community and workplace
- There are multiple convenient avenues that you can take as a young professional when giving back to your community
- Tying in your passions with your work can allow you to be more driven, productive, and happy