The New Paradigm of Service

By Justin Land

Program Officer, Global Citizenship & Northeast Public Affairs


The most powerful force in the world are individuals who have realized their powers to do good in the community. Today, the most effective volunteers apply their time, talent, and resources to make a positive difference not just for others, but with others.


It’s key that volunteerism be a true partnership that bridges service with the community’s actual articulated needs and goals and has community members participating side-by-side with those providing service. We should seek to learn, grow and build new relationships, not just inside our professional networks, but within Greater Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and beyond, incorporating the views of those with different backgrounds and reflecting their experiences and perspectives.


We are at a critical time in our history in which we must think differently. It is no longer sufficient to simply ask how we get more people to volunteer. We must push for a new paradigm of service: to create a society without barriers, one where we can make it easy for people to get involved in work that aligns with their passions while creating meaningful impact.


At Dow and across many organizations, we know that creating positive social impact and corporate volunteer programs can also positively impact our company’s performance. This is one of the many reasons why we support our employees, #TeamDow, in Greater Philadelphia and around the world in giving back to their communities by offering their time, talent and expertise where it is needed most.


And Dow is not alone in this. Member companies of the Greater Philadelphia Corporate Volunteer Council join forces with neighbors and strangers of all backgrounds all year long. Together we serve to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers and address social problems.


It’s a virtuous cycle: We know customers want to support companies that are good corporate citizens. We know the best and brightest minds want to work for such companies. And we know that volunteerism enhances the employee experience – providing unique and rewarding opportunities for skills and leadership development. To truly effect change, this cycle must be founded on diversity in all its forms: who designs the volunteer program, who participates in the program, who the program serves and how it does so. The days of noblesse oblige are long past; the days of inclusive impact have arrived.


To shift the paradigm of service, let’s pause and ask ourselves how we as individuals, within our families, or together with our companies can make a positive difference – not just for others but with others.


Justin Land has been at Dow since July 2012. Dow has been a member of the GPCVC since 2013.