A corporate culture of excellence, equality, safety and innovation that celebrates diversity across all spectrums – in and outside the workplace – is a tall order. However, that’s exactly what Dow’s ALL IN Employee Resource Group (ERG) fund seeks to achieve by supporting local, European initiatives that help aspiring entrepreneurs, underprivileged young people, survivors of violence and more.
Launched in 2019, the initiative empowers employees in Europe and elsewhere to serve underprivileged communities by partnering with local organisations to create more diversity and inclusion in the places they live and work. The fund supports innovative collaborations between regional chapters of Dow’s 10 ERGs and nonprofit organisations. Supporting projects encompass more than writing checks; they must include opportunities for Dow employees to volunteer and take advantage of the company’s policy of paid time for volunteering activities.
As of April 2023, the fund has committed $1.1 million to support 53 ALL IN ERG projects in 25 countries worldwide, reaching more than 60,000 people and deploying close to 8,000 volunteering hours from Dow colleagues. Approximately 1,400 of these beneficiaries are located in Europe, where employees have volunteered a cumulative 1,200 hours.
European organisations and programmes the fund supported in previous years include, among others:
- Capacity Zurich, a talent and start-up incubator based in Switzerland that empowers those from a refugee or migrant background to become entrepreneurs or find employment. Along with providing funding, Dow employees volunteered as mentors and coaches and collaborated with the organisation on supplier diversity;
- Dress for Success, an organisation in the Netherlands that helps people distant from the labour market prepare for finding and applying to a job, including by providing suitable business clothing free of charge. Dow has collaborated with the organisation on several events and collected professional clothing for project participants;
- Don Bosco, a Belgian organisation that supports underprivileged young people. Dow employees have held workshops for young adult participants on subjects such as career advice; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills; and discrimination and diversity in work environments. Dow has also hosted young people on a site visit to its facilities;
- Women’s Rights Centre, which created the Women’s Academy of Power to help women in Poland reclaim their voices in the face of gender-based violence and discrimination through empowering workshops and inclusive networking events. Among other kinds of support, Dow has hosted an interactive event through the academy for families intended to promote children’s curiosity about careers in STEM; and
- Return to Work 45+, a programme to help Zurich-area women return to the workforce after acting as primary caregivers for their families. For nine months, 24 Dow volunteers mentored local women to help them resume their careers and achieve their professional goals.
Ongoing European projects through the ALL IN ERG fund include:
- The Open Arms Project, aimed at integrating those with a migrant background into the Netherlands;
- Economic Resiliency for Marginalized Groups, which supports under-resourced populations in Belgium; and
- The Unbreakable Mothers, focusing on the psychological and physical wellbeing of Ukrainian mothers and their children.
The ALL IN ERG fund is open annually to new proposals. While the programme is focused on initiating projects, those that have received funding in the past often continue to benefit from Dow volunteers.
According to Luisa Boaretto, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Europe, Middle East, Africa and India, Dow, the fund is an extraordinary opportunity for not only programme beneficiaries but also employees, who can meaningfully engage with their communities:
‘Through the ALL IN ERG fund, we’re not just creating a more equitable society, we’re also building a culture of purpose that empowers our employees to make a real difference in the communities where we live and work, while fostering collaboration and engagement that benefits everyone.’