15 May 2006
Leadership, communications skills, and resource development - often termed "power skills" in a business setting - are linked to early experiences for women in community service and non-profit volunteer activities.
According to Power Skills research, "How Volunteerism Shapes Professional Success", a study conducted for Womens Way, these and other critical business skills, like problem solving, coaching/mentoring, and public speaking are developed and improved through volunteerism.
The study was spearheaded by Markitects, Inc., an independent marketing service and research firm from June-August 2005 and sponsored by Comcast Foundation. The online survey and personal interviews focused on 90 professional women in a leadership capacity and sought to determine when, how and why they participate in non-profit and community-based endeavors.
- 83% of participants reported that they acquired, improved or developed their leadership skills due to volunteer participation, while 78% reported improvement in their communications skills.
- Other "power skills" improvements the study found were: 62% enhanced problem-solving skills, 57% improved organization/multitasking and 53% enhanced marketing skills.
- At least 50% of participants have been involved in volunteer work for more than 5 years, and 22% for more than 10 years.
- Almost 40% of participants started volunteering before they were 16 years old, and over 55% were volunteering by the time they were 30 years old.
"The correlation of women's professional growth and development with their philanthropic involvement makes a strong business case to employees and employers about the importance of investing in community involvement as a professional development tool," said Melissa Weiler Gerber, Executive Director of WOMENS WAY.
"WOMENS WAY hopes to encourage increased volunteerism and enhanced recognition of the myriad of transferable business skills gained through community service. Thanks to funding from The Comcast Foundation and the work of Markitects, we are able to communicate this message to the broader public."
The study pinpoints the benefits of volunteerism for women as well as ways in which the corporate community can leverage volunteerism for everyone's benefit.
- Promote volunteerism as a cost-effective tool for career development and training.
- Recognize the "power skill" set gained from volunteer activities in the hiring and evaluation process.
- Make it easy for employees to volunteer, enabling the company to profit from an energized, educated, well-rounded employee base.
- Participate as a corporation in volunteerism because it builds healthy communities and healthy communities that enhance business opportunities.
"As a corporation who values community involvement and female leadership we are proud to support the 'Power Skills' study with WOMENS WAY and Markitects. In today's corporate culture it is critical that both employees and employers leverage the benefits of transferable skills as useful tools in the workplace and the community. Our Foundation is committed to growing such skills within our workforce so that they in turn affect their communities," said Diane Dietz, Vice President, The Comcast Foundation and Senior Director of Public Affairs, Comcast Corporation.
Findings show that volunteerism is one of the richest education and career development tools for professional women. The study participants were involved in more than one organization and sited specific reasons for volunteering including a desire to "give back," a personal or family tragedy, or a tradition of leading by example for the next generation.
"The "Power Skills Study" was crucial in identifying this important relationship between professional success and volunteerism. The results are especially significant for corporate America as businesses aim to create cultures where philanthropic involvement and mentorships are commonplace. This study provides tangible, measurable proof that such corporate behavior enhances leadership skills on both a personal and professional level," said Francine Carb, President and CEO of Markitects, Inc.