Building Community Through a Culture of Philanthropy | Spring 2019

Evidence to support the benefits of philanthropic giving and community support – as well as the growing value that employees place on purposeful work – continues to grow.  Not only do employees who find meaning in their professions tend to stay longer and report greater satisfaction levels, but it’s good for their company’s bottom line, too.  A Meaning and Purpose at Work report by BetterUp Labs, the research arm of BetterUp, a mobile-based leadership development platform, found that

Employees are happier and more fulfilled at work when their jobs feel meaningful and the company’s leadership values are in alignment with their own.

This translates into gains in worker productivity that can add up to over $9,000 per worker, per year. 

For many in the talent mobility industry, cultivating a culture of giving back to the communities they serve is a natural part of their business DNA. In this second segment of our five-part “Leadership Unplugged” series, we bring you highlights of conversations between Worldwide ERC® President and CEO, Peggy Smith, SCRP, SGMS-T and talent mobility leaders to learn more.

At John L. Scott Real Estate, making a difference and the philosophy of living life as a contribution is “part of our culture – it’s something that is embedded in us,” says Barrett “Barry” Matheny, Vice President Relocation Services. “It is one of the things that John L. Scott really believes in.  Lennox (third-generation company leader, Chairman and CEO J. Lennox Scott) has been working with (Seattle) Children’s Hospital for many years, and the hospital’s foundation is supported by the company,” Barry noted, adding that he had recently had a chance to participate in “Kilts for Kids,” raising over $180,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities in ten days. He shares that “real estate is about buying and selling a home, but it’s also about being involved in the community and making a difference in people’s lives.”

When Peggy asked about how they work to foster that priority as part of the overall company culture, Barry shared that those conversations happen very early on in the recruiting process, and he and his team send about 200 hand-written cards a month, recognizing individuals’ unique stories. They write “not only to those we celebrate for their success, but those who are going through some tough times, and try to encourage and build them up. We recognize them for their anniversaries, success, and personal and business accomplishments.”

For The Paxton Companies, another multi-generational, family-run business, embracing leadership values that support a giving environment is also a top priority. When Peggy asked Freddy Paxton, SCRP, SGMS, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President, how they work to pass those values down throughout the organization, he shares that “It’s always about the team.  No matter who the leadership is within the organization – it’s about the team you put together, the people in the organization, the people you go to when you need things done.” For Freddy, the strength of the team and their expertise is one of the key reasons the company has been in business for over 100 years. When Peggy observed that Freddy is a leader who gives back through a blend of supporting both charitable and industry organizations like Worldwide ERC® and FIDI, he shared that “growing up in our industry – I just love it – it’s a passion I have, not just in moving, but in the full mobility realm,” adding that “I really understand the full mobility picture…and wanted to help lift up the industry.”  His passion about the philanthropic component of leadership is demonstrated by his work as a Trustee on the Worldwide ERC® Foundation, and, alongside the team at FIDI, his efforts to support Operation Smile, where every dollar goes directly to facilitate the surgical procedures needed to repair cleft lips in children.


Al Blumenberg, SCRP, Senior Vice President, Global Client Development and Service Partner Relations at NEI Global Relocation, has also cultivated a career that blends his business leadership skills with a passion for philanthropic work. Through numerous roles with Worldwide ERC®,  including serving on the board of directors, executive teams, numerous committees and with the Worldwide ERC® Foundation, as well as years of dedicated service to The Lyons Club and with the Boy Scouts of America, he knows that many of the same leadership qualities translate across professional and personal volunteer activities. 

“As a leader, people follow you, and you have a responsibility to connect and collaborate with them. People have to believe in your vision and plan, and you have to earn their buy in.”


When prompted by Peggy to reflect on how to build the next generation of leaders who will carry on that community-building torch, Al shared that he has seen the benefits of providing early leadership training opportunities first-hand, having observed a difference in those young Scouts who had participated in formal programs vs. those who did not, and how that investment “helped them gain their confidence” and enhance their presentation and communication skills. He believes strongly in the importance of understanding what motivates others to act, and that having a clear sense of what drives them – and how to effectively communicate with them – goes a long way toward earning support around an initiative or project, whether in the board room or out in the community.

Related: For more information on ways companies are blending the benefits of positive societal impact with their core businesses, and talent mobility’s role, see “It’s a Match: Mobility and Corporate Responsibility” in the October 2018 issue of Mobility magazine.

Coming Next—Leadership Unplugged Part III: 21st Century Leadership Skills

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