Offer talent – search Purpose

Recently, companies have been sending their young executives to internships and to mentor social enterprises. Both sides are supposed to benefit from this.

Recently, companies have been sending their young executives to internships and to mentor social enterprises. Both sides are supposed to benefit from this.

The company supports a social entrepreneur in Barcelona who offers blood tests for early diagnosis, for example for pregnant women in developing countries. What would a German IT specialist be doing at such a company in Spain? At first, Brandscheid could only wonder about the suggestion of her superiors at Boehringer Ingelheim. She didn’t even speak Spanish.

Now the 32-year-old is back at her desk on the Rhine, and she is convinced: “The six months were a gain – for both sides.” She listened a lot at first, then took an “analytical and solution-oriented” approach. For example, the German helped revise the business plan of social entrepreneur Jordi Marti. She made suggestions on how to market his blood tests even better and how to better sort the necessary patient data electronically. Brandscheid also got a lot in return: “An insane feeling of happiness,” for example, “when you do something that can save lives.”

Doing good as manager training – this model is booming. More and more companies are looking for social partners. Whether it’s Boehringer Ingelheim, SAP, Hilti or the freight forwarder Kühne & Nagel, they’re all sending managers to become do-gooders. Both sides should benefit from this. The temporary employees bring a professional view of marketing, IT or finance. But they also take something back with them: fresh ideas and the good feeling that their own employer also has a sense of social responsibility.


Such a “good feeling” is becoming increasingly important for the future of entire corporations. Because a sense of social responsibility is in demand among today’s and tomorrow’s skilled workers. This is the experience of Carola von Peinen, who founded Talents4Good GmbH with two colleagues at the end of 2012 after nine years with a traditional HR service provider. The international non-profit organization for the promotion of social entrepreneurship, Ashoka, took a 50 percent stake. Now von Peinen is looking for personnel for social initiatives in the country. Her mission: “Everyone should have the chance to finance their lives with a job that makes sense to them.”

And right from the first tenders for employers such as the BMW Foundation, the SOS Children’s Villages or the translator service for the hearing-impaired, Verbavoice, von Peinen is surprised: there is no trace of a shortage of skilled workers. Hundreds of highly qualified candidates come forward. Within a few months, her database grows to almost 2000 experienced applicants. However, to date she has only been able to place 25 of them. Unlike in almost all other industries, there is clearly not a lack of suitable candidates in the social sector, but rather a lack of vacancies. “Many people, whether at the beginning, middle or end of their careers, ask themselves the question of meaning,” says von Peinen. “That’s why we’re seeing a real run on jobs that offer meaning.” Corporations, on the other hand, have to make more and more efforts to find good young talent. So it’s only natural to also invest in questions of meaning. It’s no coincidence that corporate social responsibility (CSR) departments are experiencing a major upswing.

At the software programmer SAP, this is also where a special mentoring program of employees for social enterprises is located. Head of CSR Gabriele Hartmann explains how it works: In 2011, SAP launched a cooperation with the Social Impact Lab, a platform that helps social enterprises find mentors from the business world, among other things. 120 SAP employees have since registered as potential mentors. Around 50 of them are currently on the job.

However, their official time commitment is limited. According to the CSR guidelines, SAP makes eight working hours per year available to each employee for social projects. However, supervisors often tolerate “considerably more” during working hours, explains Hartmann. Added to this, of course, is the amount of free time that employees invest in good projects.

Boehringer Ingelheim, too, has so far tended to sprinkle in social commitment in homeopathic doses. In 2013, Nicole Brandscheid was one of four top junior employees worldwide who interned at a social enterprise. “There’s still room for improvement,” admits Manuela Pastore. She oversees the “Making More Health” initiative for Boehringer, which, together with Ashoka, aims to find new ways to improve healthcare worldwide. She would like to open up the “Fellowship” at social enterprises to middle management in the future.

Carsten Rübsaamen could also be an interesting partner for this. Last week, he and his company Bookbridge were accepted into the Ashoka network as a new Swiss Fellow. Bookbridge builds learning centers with libraries and courses in developing and emerging countries. Rübsaamen involves teams of young professionals and experienced managers from Switzerland in the project planning. He has devised a program with five modules: from joint virtual project planning with local partners to implementation during an eight-day trip. In recent years, employees of the tool manufacturer Hilti, the freight forwarder Kühne + Nagel and the watchmaker Swatch have already traveled to Mongolia or Cambodia on projects with Bookbridge.

Some of them probably had a similar experience as Nicole Brandscheid did with social entrepreneur Jordi Marti in Barcelona. “I got carried away working with someone who had such a huge inner drive,” she reports. She says she learned from that – in big and small ways. How easy it can be, for example, to cross barriers and take unconventional paths when you’re burning for an idea. The Spanish social entrepreneur ignored the classic corporate hierarchies in which Brandscheid had previously operated. He wrote emails asking for cooperation not to any subdivisions, but directly to corporate executives. And he sometimes even had success with it.

Source: WeltN24 GmbH


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