October 3, 2019

The Power of Giving Back

I always had an ongoing struggle with the notion of “work-life balance,” as I believe it is deeply personal for each of us.  Instead, I’ve adopted my own evolution of balance, which I think of as “The Blur.”  For me, The Blur comes with the realization that I have things that are incredibly important to me in my personal life as well as my professional life.  While I believe it’s important to have some parts of those lives separate for sheer sanity’s sake, I find it a huge win when I can bring them together and maximize my enjoyment of both. Finding ways to give back to the community is one of the greatest examples of that for me.

Several years back, I had the epiphany that while I do believe you can “have it all,” in theory, you can’t always have it all at the same time. As a single mom with a big job, I made the conscious choice to narrow my focus and really go all in on being the best mom I could possibly be, and give my best to the job that I love. Those were the two of the most important elements of my life, so it wasn’t a hard choice.  However, it meant putting other things I loved on the back burner for a period of time to be able to truly commit to those priorities.  As a result, community service, social time with friends, and other interest areas took a back seat.  Over time, I came to realize that if I could integrate some of those elements that I had always considered part of my personal life into my business life, I could blur the lines of these two worlds in a really productive way.  I also thought, if I can benefit from that, I bet others can too.  That evolved into what we refer to as #rapid7givesback.

It started small, with a simple partnership with Boston’s own TUGG.  We participated in their Tech Gives Back day, where thousands of Boston-area employees donate a day of service to a variety of projects around the city.  What started as a fun way to get out of the office and give back to our community turned out to offer so much more. We were able to work alongside people from other teams that we wouldn’t normally interact with, and began to forge new relationships.  For so many, those new found collaborations carried back into the office, and began to break down barriers between teams.

Each year, we encouraged more people to participate, and it quickly evolved to include every Rapid7 office around the globe. It’s provided leadership opportunities for people to help identify projects to support, and to lead and coordinate teams onsite.  It’s also allowed us to morph from giving back rather randomly to focusing the majority of our efforts to projects and programs that are closely aligned to areas we are deeply committed to in the areas of STEM and Diversity and Inclusion.  We’ve also shifted the focus from one day a year to the entire month of October.  By doing so, we were able to create more flexibility for the organizations we were working with, as well as accommodate the busy schedules of our people with a variety of offerings and dates to choose from.  We’ve made it really challenging NOT to find a way to get involved.

It’s also inspired us to dig deeper and find more sustainable connections with the organizations we offer support to.  For example, this year we established our first rotation program for recent college graduates.  In addition to their three rotations within their field of interest, they work cross functionally with other “rotatoes” (yes, it is a silly name, but so are we!) and spend a portion of their time each month working with incredible organizations we respect in Boston.  We are so proud to be able to support amazing groups like BUILD Boston, Hack.Diversity, BoSTEM and Dearborn STEM Academy , who have been so gracious to partner with us and provide opportunities for our team on a monthly basis, while we share our time and help to aid them in their success. It’s an incredibly mutually beneficial set of relationships.

As we head into October, our teams across the globe will be rolling up their sleeves and taking some time away to contribute back to our communities. That time to hit the pause button isn’t just an opportunity to feel good for doing a bit of service work; we find so many of our people truly love the chance to learn more about who might need a helping hand, how to get involved at a deeper level, and build some new relationships with co-workers along the way.

I certainly love all of those things. That, and I found a pretty fantastic way to blur what I was missing in my personal life, find a creative way to weave it into my professional life, and then share that with the whole company.

Interested in how you might ignite something like this in your own company? It’s not as hard as you think. Reach out, I’m happy to share some thoughts on how to make that happen.

Christina Luconi is Chief People Officer for Rapid7. Follow her on Twitter: @peopleinnovator.