In December, we hosted our first ever global Impact Week. The week was a time when Dropbox employees across 12 of our offices had the opportunity to participate in events, volunteer, and attend talks—all centered around our two main social impact initiatives, Dropbox for Good and The Dropbox Foundation. Dropbox for Good is an employee-led program that leverages our time, product, and resources to help drive social impact across the company. It’s entirely cause agnostic, which allows employees to support the communities and organizations they care about most. Through this initiative, Dropboxers are able to take 32 hours of volunteer time off per year, receive gift matching for their donations, and donate Dropbox Business accounts to impactful nonprofits that are meaningful to them. The Dropbox Foundation is focused on supporting organizations that defend human rights around the world, by providing unrestricted grants and skills-based volunteering to match their needs to the capabilities of Dropbox employee volunteers.
Impact Week started on Giving Tuesday—a global day that encourages people to do good—and culminated in one of the Dropbox Foundation’s most important days of the year, International Human Rights Day. Impact Week focused on three main pillars—learn, give, and volunteer.
Learning is important for us in all aspects of our company whether it’s learning more about our customers’ needs or our communities’ assets and challenges. It’s important that we try not to impose our view of the world onto communities and really listen before we act or create.
“When you learn about the different facets of your community, you position yourself to better understand how you can positively impact it,” says Mack Pena, who participated in Impact Week. “If every human used their unique talents to serve their community in some small way, the world (and our communities) would benefit tremendously.”
During Impact Week, we brought in a variety of nonprofit partners so employees could learn first-hand from the experts about issue areas ranging from homelessness in San Francisco, to human trafficking in Texas, to supporting children in conflict zones globally. We also emphasize using our platform as a company to amplify our partners’ work and further their missions. On International Human Rights Day, Aron Cramer, CEO of Business for Social Responsibility, spoke to employees about human rights challenges today including climate justice, gender equity, and immigration to name a few.
We also built an interactive installation of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the UN created in 2015 to achieve by 2030 to reach a better future for humanity and our planet. They aim to mitigate global challenges, including those related to poverty, hunger, inequality, climate change, and justice. Human rights are essential to achieving the SDGs, which is why they are so important to The Dropbox Foundation and our partners. During Impact Week, employees were able to learn about each goal, its meaning, and visually show their support to their fellow Dropboxers.
“We all have a responsibility to give back,” says Easlynn Lee, social impact program manger at Dropbox. “We’re responsible for our technology and making sure it helps to empower a multitude of communities in a positive way. This directly aligns with our company values. Community engagement is truly about making work human, and knowing that when our community wins, that’s the only way we win.”
The Seattle office focused on giving financially by setting an audacious goal for fundraising in 2019, which they surpassed with flying colors during Impact Week. Given the timing of Impact Week, most of our offices held holiday gift drives of some sort. We partnered with a variety of community organizations who work tirelessly to serve in various ways all year round, but especially around the holidays. As Gabe Chavez-Yondorf on our sales team explained, “the gift drive was such a wonderful way of reminding everyone that despite the hurdles that we overcome to close business as sales leaders, we are so fortunate in the grand scheme of things. With so much to be thankful for as Dropboxers, everyone felt really compelled to make a difference in the life of a young person, even just for one day.” The Austin office worked with SAFE, an organization serving the survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence, to raise money to purchase holiday gifts for clients.
“The collective energy with which offices and teams came together to give back was spectacular,” says Sarah Andrabi, a security engineer at Dropbox.
Volunteering aligns closely with our values as a company, but it’s easy to get lost in the demands of our everyday lives. As Elena DiMuzio, senior legal counsel says, “taking a moment to step outside of my normal routine to do something helpful gives perspective and connects me to my community.”
There was a lot of enthusiasm for volunteer activities, whether it was for volunteering at The Food Bank NSW in Sydney, working with senior residents at Age UK Lewisham and Southwark, or leading STEM activities for patients at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Our Tokyo team also worked with The Japan Platform (JPF), which provides prompt and effective emergency humanitarian assistance activities for disasters and conflicts, to deliver an in-person training on using Dropbox Business.
“By training JPF on how to use Dropbox Business efficiently, they can more effectively help these organizations, which are influential humanitarian groups that Dropbox isn’t able to reach directly,” says Shunsuke Chiba, who is a part of the sales and channel team in Japan.
Impact Week was a great way to end our year as a global company and a wonderful way to come together across geographies. We’re looking forward to continuing to grow our efforts in 2020 and can’t wait for our next Impact Week. As our head of Social Impact, Tina Lee, put it “volunteering and giving back is service. And providing service to others is humbling, a way of thinking of others ahead of yourself. I hope volunteering drives us all to think through different perspectives and how we can always put aside time for others.”