This story was submitted as part of the #Pledge1Gives GivingTuesday campaign, which celebrates the many ways our member companies are having an impact around the world.

By Anna Currin, Manager, Philanthropy and Community Engagement, Okta

At Okta, we believe Okta for Good, our social impact initiative, is owned by everyone at the company. Even before Okta for Good was formed, employees dedicated their time to volunteering together at local nonprofits, and forming an ad hoc council dedicated to new ideas around providing resources to the community. So when our founders took the 1% pledge before going public, they solidified Okta’s commitment to the community, and employees rallied behind it. 

Years later, our employee programs have grown and evolved alongside Okta. Today, Okta has more than 1,900 employees across 12 offices, and with a lean social impact team of 4, we rely on the leadership and passion of employees to scale our community work. This year Okta for Good launched its first “Okta for Good Leadership Council”, unlocking more potential from our employees to drive social impact across offices (and amongst more than 400 remote workers!). These employees came from a variety of backgrounds –some new to philanthropy but interested and passionate about giving back, and some seasoned and experienced, looking to lead employees in new local programs. 

The goals of the council are simple: empower employees in all regions to give back in ways that are not only personal, but tap into the issues that are most important to those geographies. For example, the nonprofit ecosystem in Paris varies drastically from San Francisco, and our local leaders build relationships with key partners to provide opportunities for employees to contribute in meaningful ways. 

The first council-led campaign occured in July with Okta’s annual Tech Pathways Week, a week dedicated to opening our office doors to connect with underserved youth and job-seekers in each region in which our employees live and work. Each office leader partnered with a workforce development-focused nonprofit, and created an opportunity specific to their needs – from office tours, to micro-mentoring sessions to executive AMAs, providing opportunities for youth and job-seekers to ask questions directly to successful leaders. 

In September, our Okta for Good Leadership Council came together for the first time in Washington DC for our summit, which we plan to do early from now on. This consisted of two days devoted to building community among the group, learning new skills, and brainstorming how to take our programs to the next level. We invited industry leaders Realized Worth and Give2Get to host interactive sessions around corporate citizenship and how to lead programs that transform employees into changemakers. Council leads went back to their regions with inspiration and direction to engage people at their highest level of contribution. 

I often describe Okta for Good as a small but mighty team but when I share stories of our work in communities, our employees are always front and center. This Giving Tuesday, we celebrate our employee leaders and all the work they do to inspire giving among Okta employees and in our wider community. We’re proud of their efforts and how far we’ve come in a year!

For any companies interested in building a network of employee champions, here are a few suggestions on getting started:

  • Create a clear application process – We ask a lot from our leaders throughout the year, so it’s important they understand the commitment and have skin in the game.

  • Diversity is key! Better representation leads to more innovation and better programs. The Okta for Good Council is balanced across regions, departments, tenure, seniority and background, leading to a wide range of perspectives.

  • Provide global structure but regional focus – Our team sets global targets while acknowledging every region has its local flavor! The key is to provide guidance while allowing for regional customization.