Inappropriate corporate sponsorship of
Management Tips by Burleson Consulting
As an MBA, I was
taught that employees should always be treated with the utmost respect, and that
a corporation should never involve themselves into employees personal lives,
especially super-personal things like sexual preference, lifestyle, religion and
most of all, charitable giving.
Charitable giving is a very personal matter which has no business in the
workplace. It’s not ethical for any corporation to sponsor or endorse any
charity, especially those where millions of dollars are used for administrative
and advertising expenses and where some charities are offensive to employee’s
moral or religious standards.
Examples of inappropriate
corporate charity sponsorship
Many corporate managers cite the yearly United Way shakedown as an example of
corporate misfeasance, where employees are openly coerced into giving “their
fair share”, suggesting that you are being unfair by not helping.
An example of inappropriate sponsorship
|In my experience I’ve had open coercion with statements
from my boss like “For the past 30 years, 100% of our employees
have given their fair share”, subtly suggesting that if I did
not give, I might not be an employee next year.
This type of exposure of employees charitable giving is completely
inappropriate for any workplace, and it's especially egregious when the
awards and special recognition to those who contribute large
Trent Stamp’s publication or corporate sponsored charities says it best:
“[The charity] uses coercion, guilt, public humiliation
and pressure to extract money from donors. They are not asking people to
give, they command donations. . .
They make you feel guilty of not donating money by
harassing you every day to return the form.
They ask (force?) the employer to draw a price for all
who return their forms, whether they donate or not.”
Also, the "fair share" suggested by corporate sponsored
charities are not trivial, and the United Way “Fair Share” can amount to
thousands of dollars.
The "fair share" shakedown
Edward Trimnel notes that my own experience of employer coercion is not
unique and that corporations have an incentive in the form of public recognition
if they get 100% employee donations:
“His manager reviewed his United Way contributions.
If the donation didn’t meet “company contribution
goals” my friend was bluntly told to raise his “level of giving”.
And when the people who sign your paycheck tell you to
give to charity, you pony up.”
Employee coercion is unethical
|Many employees detest the corporate “requirement”
whereby all employees are required to sign a document stating that they
are not giving their fair share.
Many employees who detest employer sponsored charities will donate
money because of these veiled threats, but there are many other ethical,
moral and religious reasons not to give to institutional charities.
Corporate sponsorship and charity overhead
Charity Reports, the top management of United Way earns over a million
dollars a year. For another example, the United Way reported a $1.5-million
pension payment to its former chief executive, Ms. Beene, when she departed
after only four years on the job.
In 2006, it was reported that the CEO of United Way used
$190,000 worth of points redeemable for hotel stays that had been originally
donated for charitable purposes. Do you really want your hard-earned money to
pay for this?
Here are some other reasons that employees should not be
sponsored to make charitable donations:
Employee Objections - Many employees have moral
objections to specific charities of large charities, specifically those
dealing with abortion, birth control and other controversial social issues.
High Overhead - Corporate sponsored charities
can spend millions of dollars in donated funds for advertising. For
example, in 2006 the United Way spent more than $60 million dollars of “fair
share” monies in administrative expenses.
Perceived harassment - The employer sponsorship
of a charity can be seen as harassment. This web publication titled “constant
harassment at work” says that her employer puts undue pressure on their
employees, bordering on harassment:
“Sorry, but I just can't get excited about it and I
feel I am being harassed.
Only one week into the campaign and I have received
over a dozen emails and about half a dozen long voicemails about it.
The voicemails are what really, really annoy the
crap out of me.”
In sum, any respectable corporation should respect the
rights of their employees and never, ever, endorse any charity.
However, it's not inappropriate to notify employees
about any worthy charities, so long as they are low-overhead,
non-religious and effective, organizations like like
www.heifer.org which gives livestock
to starving families.
References on Corporate sponsored charities:
your article about inappropriate sponsorships of charities. I feel the same way
but have to "play along" as well. You may find these articles interesting.