On December 10, 2019, the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce brought three leading voices together to provide an educative panel discussion on the importance and benefits of corporate social responsibility. This lunch event closed out the Chamber’s 2019 year of Insight Studio programming.

Patagonia’s Sheryl Shusan joined us from outside the county to provide insight on her work leading Patagonia’s Global Family Services. She directs company programs like on-site childcare, childcare tuition assistance and travel support for employees with infants required to travel for work.

Locally, MINDBODY’s Erin Holohan and Promega Corporation’s Corey Meek also joined as panelists. As Director of Corporate Wellness Programs, Holohan dedicates herself to workplace wellness, helping MINDBODY design, implement, and manage an impactful wellness strategy and onsite wellness program. Meek’s role as Corporate Responsibility lead allows him to develop a formal corporate responsibility program and collaborate with 20 Promega locations worldwide to advance the company’s corporate responsibility commitments and actions.

Each of our panelists weave corporate social responsibility into the fabric of their companies in different ways:

At Patagonia’s Ventura headquarters where Shusan is based, the office has on-site childcare services. Shusan emphasized that “we cannot provide quality childcare on the backs of parents alone”— rather, she said, companies have a responsibility to step in and help. In Patagonia offices where on-site care is not a possibility, the company opts to subsidize part of the cost of childcare for their employees. Not only can these efforts help reduce emotional and financial stress for parents of young children, but it also improves company culture, Shusan said.

Our panelists discussed childcare challenges and solutions in the workplace extensively:

Finding childcare isn’t the only difficulty facing working families: our panelists discussed other ways that companies can support employees with young children:

As a company that is deeply involved with the wellness industry, Holohan said MINDBODY prioritizes promoting employee wellness as one type of corporate social responsibility. From their on-site fitness class offerings to the annual Ignite Wellness Challenge, Holohan said that having a “very holistic and robust in nature” wellness program is directly tied to the company’s higher employee retention rates. It’s good for workers and good for business.

The panelists discussed how to find corporate social responsibility solutions— like MINDBODY’s wellness programs— that work for every employee, regardless of age and generational differences:

Along those same lines, Meek’s experience at Promega brought a wealth of knowledge and experience relating to emotional and social intelligence. Promega’s Emotional and Social Intelligence Bootcamp allows employees to learn more about themselves and their fellow workers, and Meek said that he has witnessed a more relaxed and efficient office since the program started.

Meek and his fellow panelists encouraged audience members to respond to employee needs no matter what size a business is. “It’s empowering your employees and channeling their passions,” he said:

Our panelists are leveraging employee passion to foster social responsibility, a method that small businesses can utilize:

The panelists also encouraged business owners to try out different types of corporate social responsibility to see what fits best for a given company. Not every initiative will be a good fit for all businesses and employees, but failure doesn’t have to be a negative thing:

Insight Studio is a series of workshops and events created to provide business education, inspirational and relationship building opportunities to our members.

Thank you to our Insight Studio lead sponsor:

And to our supporting sponsors: