Technology for social good programs allow companies to make a difference in the world around them, but they can also help them attract and retain top tech talent. On Wednesday at the 2018 Vmworld conference in Las Vegas, Ali Marano, global head of technology for social good at JPMorgan Chase, led a breakout session explaining the banking giant's approach to social good and how it impacts their tech talent.
JPMorgan Chase has about 250,000 employees worldwide, and 50,000 of those are in tech, Marano said. So far, they've served over 1,200 nonprofits and donated 250,000-plus volunteer hours in tech.
The company approaches social good initiatives from "cradle to career," beginning with youth programs around topics such as coding, cybersecurity, and more. They've reached 5,000 kids and thousands of parents as well, Marano said. Additionally Marano said she stays in touch with parents, and makes her team available as the kids grow older, if they are eventually interested in a job later on.
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JPMorgan Chase's two core programs are Code for Good, a student hackathon for building out ideas to help real-world social good organizations address issues, and Force for Good, a skills-based volunteer program that works on deployable, production-ready projects.
With Code for Good, employees get to see the students' real selves, Marano said. They get a better sense of how they work under pressure, and how they interact with the team. This makes it easier to interface with the students in the hiring process, if there is a position available that they'd be a good fit for.
According to Marano, they also allow experienced employees from other companies to work in the Code for Good program. Even if they aren't interested in a job at JPMorgan Chase, they can connect with a recruiter and maybe follow up later if they're interested in a career change, she noted.
The hackathon is also a way for the company to embrace female technologists, Marano said. JPMorgan Chase ensures that there are senior female employees at the event, so that any female developers who come feel welcomed and supported. This helps drive inclusiveness at JPMorgan Chase as well, Marano said.
Force for Good, alternatively, allows employees to "utilize and foster new skills to build technological solutions for social good organizations over 6-8 months," according to its website.
With both programs, Marano said the firm wants to share both the success stories and the challenges that executives have learned from. They also want to stand behind the products they build through Force for Good, offering support if something breaks, and not putting a product out unless it's something they'd use at JPMorgan. Both of these strategies help the firm prove the genuine investment in social good.
The numbers also support Marano's approach. In a 2016 study, about three-quarters of millennials said they'd take a pay cut to work for a more ethical firm. Corporate responsibility continues to grow as a way to engage employees across industries as well.
When starting a social good program, Marano said executives will encounter three types of individuals. The first group doesn't want to volunteer at all, but is happy to work for a company that allows coworkers to do that, and will evangelize the programs. The second group wants to volunteer, but doesn't want to use tech skills because it's too similar to their day job. And, the third group wants to use its tech skills—the skills they use everyday—for social good. For a program to be successful, leaders must recognize the needs of each group and properly address them.
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Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.