social engagement

Mary Grace, Total Rewards Director, Asia Pacific, Johnson & Johnson, shares about the company's volunteer leave programme, that gives APAC employees two days of fully paid leave per year.

Walking through the Johnson & Johnson office as a new hire 16 years ago, I was greeted by the signature J&J credo across our walls, showcasing values that underpin all decision-making at J&J. At the time, I didn’t realise how much weight those paragraphs would carry in the day-to-day life of every single J&J employee.

In our credo, one of our many responsibilities is to our community:

“We are responsible to the communities in which we live and work and to the world community as well. We must be good citizens — support good works and charities, better health and education, and bear our fair share of taxes.”

Our credo is our moral compass to guide us in doing what is right for the people we serve – patients, doctors, consumers, customers and those in the community.

Since my early days in HR at J&J, a clear mandate had been impressed upon me – to bring the credo to life, engaging employees and encouraging them to find out what it could mean for them. While opportunities to contribute to the community as an employee were always abundant, the third paragraph of the credo came to life more than a decade ago when I took on ‘Contributions’ as part of my role as Head of HR for the Philippines.

Since then, I have been lucky enough to spearhead multiple community efforts and initiatives – driving the importance of social giving within the organisation. One such initiative is the ‘Bridge to Employment’ programme where J&J sponsored the education costs for students looking to pursue a career in healthcare. It was immensely fulfilling to watch these young adults pursue their dreams of tertiary education, knowing the positive impact they would eventually make as a healthcare professional – and the net benefit this serves for the rest of the community.

In my current role as Head of Total Rewards for Asia Pacific, the mandate to bring the credo to life continues. In January this year, we launched our volunteer leave programme, giving Asia Pacific employees two days of fully paid volunteer leave per year. With over 25,600 eligible employees – this amounts to more than 400,000 working hours annually.

This programme gives employees time off to support the causes that are important to them, driving meaningful and purposeful engagements with our community at scale. This is especially critical now as we strengthen our social safety net and help those who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic rebuild their lives – supporting vulnerable communities such as the elderly, children, lower-wage workers and more.

We know that the social giving sector has been badly affected by COVID-19 restrictions. Donations have decreased and charities have had to dip into their reserves to maintain operations. We launched the volunteer leave programme to support existing initiatives that were launched last year – such as deploying J&J volunteers to support digital marketing efforts for volunteers at the Singapore Health Group, or supporting youths who were struggling to cope with social restrictions during circuit breaker.

Through our volunteer leave programme, we’re hoping to empower employees to continue engaging with communities in purposeful and meaningful ways that resonate with them. While the volunteer leave initiative is still in its infancy, employees are excited to make an impact and support the community alongside their colleagues.

“I’m proud of the business that takes responsibility to ensure that social sectors are able to continue supporting those who need it, especially amidst COVID-19,” says Tali Goldman, Founder, Dagiz, a social enterprise.

As for me, I’m saving up my volunteer leave to support underprivileged children in the Philippines as soon as COVID-19 restrictions have been eased – I’m looking forward to putting smiles on those faces!

Photo / Provided

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