Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a ‘must’ for companies striving to create a positive reputation. For P&A Grant Thornton, one of the top 5 auditing and professional services firms in the country, CSR also serves as a way for millennials to find their “true north” or meaning in their work.
“When applying for a job, their top priority is no longer what the company sells or their salary structure. Beyond compensation and benefits, millennials are also drawn to the company’s work culture, involvement with causes, office environment, and attention to diversity. They are increasingly finding satisfaction in causes and seeking companies committed to promoting social good,” said Maria Victoria Espano, chairperson and CEO of P&A Grant Thornton.
Millennials, which now comprise a vast 80 percent of the firm’s workforce, take the lead in P&A For A Cause (PAuse), an independent unit under the P&A Foundation, the 30-year-old company’s CSR arm. PAuse is an employee-driven initiative where P&A Grant Thornton matches every employee donation made. P&A Foundation, in turn, partners with select nonprofit organizations that focus on education and youth, health and nutrition, shelter, livelihood, environment, and gender equality.
Through PAuse, P&A Grant Thornton is able to effectively engage its employees, with CSR volunteers increasing from 260 active volunteers in 2016 to 320 in 2017.
“An accountant’s job can be stressful, and sometimes one has to render late nights to complete deadlines especially now it’s tax season. These activities are a way for us to de-stress and refresh our minds, apart from the way they offer a sense of purpose and fulfillment,” said 27-year-old Yusoph Maute, senior manager in the Audit & Assurance Division and Risk Management Group at P&A Grant Thornton, and also PAuse’s project director.
One of the activities under PAuse is the Project NUTRI-Pack which involved the adoption of a poor community in Talisay, Cebu for a values, health, and livelihood training program in partnership with nonprofit International Care Ministries. P&A Grant Thornton employee volunteers provided more than 2,000 ‘nutri packs’ that can feed 30 families throughout the duration of the 16-week training. The firm matches every peso the employee volunteers raised.
“Any cause needs support to keep going so the 1:1 funding scheme is a way for us to help keep our causes alive. It’s also P&A Grant Thornton management’s way of leading by example,” explained Mr. Maute.
Apart from matching employee donations, P&A Grant Thornton also allows its employees to charge their “CSR time” as paid work hours. Last year, volunteers logged 1,500 in total volunteer hours — whether for hours rendered in packing care kits for less-fortunate children or time spent traveling out of town for an outreach event.
Employees support diverse causes: from visiting a local orphanage; bringing care kits containing diapers, milk, and basic necessities for pediatric hospital patients; to organizing elementary students for tree planting, distributing school supplies, and holding mental health awareness seminars, to name a few. They also plan to teach accounting to non-accountants, helping micro and small entrepreneurs take the big leap to success with sound accounting and financial literacy knowledge.
The firm also makes it convenient for volunteers to get involved. Employees simply need to sign up for PAuse, commit whatever amount they can afford every month, join the outreach events they like, and even pitch ideas for the next CSR advocacy. One of the projects that usually draws the most number of volunteers is the annual PAMASKO, where volunteers provide noche buena packs to poor but deserving families as well as stuffed toys and educational materials for children.
For Mr. Maute, this millennial-driven movement of giving embodies how P&A Grant Thornton sees its role as a partner in nation building, beyond its business of giving sound audit opinion to corporates.
“Volunteering ensures that in our own little way, we are interacting with the grassroots and helping put a stop to the cycle of poverty. This way, we are helping reduce the collective burden,” explained Mr. Maute, who celebrated his 27th birthday by raising funds to provide 500 solar lamps to Bulacan students without electricity at home.