November 26th, 2013
I spent one night sleeping on the streets of New York. But it did not compare to the experiences of children who do it every night.
Think about the toughest decisions you’ve ever had to make. Did you have to consider whether or not you would be more comfortable if you wore your overcoat to keep warm, or to ball it up so that you may rest your head on a makeshift pillow?
Or perhaps you had to figure out if prostitution would yield some scarce money that will get you by for another day or two.
The stories from the children who live on the street are just plain horrific. The reasons they became homeless are varied and tragic, but there’s a common thread: These children have nowhere to go, and no family to rely upon.
That’s why I – and 180 other business executives — spent the night of November 21 on the streets of New York with a piece of cardboard, a cheap sleeping bag, and the clothes on our backs. We did this to raise money for Covenant House, a non-profit network of shelters across the Americas that serve homeless youth. The night began with presentations by some of the youth who now live at Covenant House. They shared their stories of how they became homeless, and how they survived on the streets. After that, they sent us outside, and we bedded down not far from the Lincoln Tunnel. The noise from the traffic never let up, and the ground shook beneath us whenever a truck went by. The temperature started to drop at about 4 a.m., and it started to rain 30 minutes later. I managed to get some sleep, but I was grateful when they called us in at 5:30.
Our experience was for one night, and we did it with the sure knowledge that a warm home, a hot breakfast, and a loving family awaited us the next morning. So while my personal experience of the night was off the charts, it was nothing like what homeless kids go through day in and night out.
Before I took my current job with the Xerox Foundation, I spoke with former Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy, who is now chair of Save the Children. She told me that I should not under-estimate the learning curve needed for this type of job. Seven months in, I see that making a difference is at least as important as the giving of money. We can’t respond to all needs, but we can give people the opportunity to become involved on a local level. That’s an important way that we put Xerox’s philanthropic dollars to work in the places where we, and our people, are.
Last week, my group of “homeless executives” raised about $2 million, and we helped bring more eyes to the plight of homeless children. Multiply that across everyone who has ever gotten involved in their community, and you begin to see why philanthropy works.
Last week, I learned more than I thought I knew, which is why I’ll be back on streets for next year’s Sleep Out — and I plan to bring a few more Xerox people with me.
By Mark Conlin, president, Xerox Foundation, as told to Gregory Pings, manager, Content Marketing, Xerox.
October 17th, 2013
By Sherry M. Adler, freelance writer
Think of each item on this list as a process that may benefit from improvement. These concepts come from Catherine Reeves, a manager of Environmental, Health, Safety & Sustainability at Xerox. She refers to them as “sustainability opportunities,” which can reduce your waste and emissions and cut your costs too.
“Reducing your carbon footprint is never-ending,” notes Catherine. “New processes arise. Changes occur. What’s more, one innovation and idea often fosters another.”
ENERGY: How can you reduce your energy use and the resulting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that create your “carbon footprint?” Think about lighting, equipment and space as a start.
1. Light right. Turn off or adjust display lighting in vending machines. Don’t forget about energy-efficient light bulbs and white paint (or other reflective colors) on you walls. Is your furniture blocking any sources of light?
2. Sunny side up. Glaze your windows and skylights to maximize natural sunlight. Consider solar panels on your southern exposures.
3. Standardize shifts. Does the cleaning team really have to come in at night?
WASTE: What can you do to prevent generating waste in the first place? Reuse or recycle the byproducts of office and manufacturing operations. Engage suppliers and customers in these efforts too.
4. Got waste? Don’t landfill. Find a supplier that turns your waste into energy.
5. Reply. Help customers return spent supplies via postage-paid stickers, shipping cartons. Work with local organizations for customers to drop off recyclables to lower fuel usage and GHG emissions associated with shipping.
6. Repurpose. Design your products for re-manufacture and retrofit whenever possible. Understand why you generate waste from processes and design it “out.”
MATERIALS: The watchword is “less.”
7. Think upstream. Help your suppliers achieve environmentally responsible operations, products, and services. Factor shipping locations and shipping mode when you choose suppliers.
8. Size up the situation downward. Consolidate operations and eliminate storage space. Reduce materials and packaging in your products; avoid single-serve sizes.
AIR EMISSIONS: Which business processes can you optimize? Take vehicles into account too.
9. Beat the clock. Trim cycle time in manufacturing operations to lower energy and GHGs.
10. Breathe easy. Combat indoor air pollution with “air filtering plants.”
GENERAL: Go social, look upward and onward.
11. Partner for good. Adapt your work processes to cloud computing. Gain collective experience from organizations, e.g., Business for Social Responsibility, U.S. Climate Action Network, Business Roundtable Climate RESOLVE. Seek third-party assessments to keep you on top of your sustainability game, e.g., ISO 14001, ISO 5001.
12. Pledge allegiance. Set targets and milestones; then meet or beat them.
No such list can be comprehensive; you have surely found more opportunities, and you will find more. Share your best ideas in the comments section below.
September 4th, 2013
By John Lanphere, manager, Business Transformation, Xerox
John Lanphere is one of five Xerox employees granted a fully-paid leave of absence this year through the Xerox Social Service Leave program. He is currently in his eighth month of the program, working with Save The Children in Westport, CT, and will continue through December 2013.
At one point in my Xerox career I spent a lot of time with several amazing imaging scientists. I learned (perhaps in a bit too much detail) how sensitive our perception is to visual differences. Contrast, or how we visually perceive our world, is determined by the differences in brightness and color of the objects we see. As it turns out, people are pretty good at seeing subtle differences.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and see the great work that Save the Children is doing there. It was also a real-world study in contrast.
As a first time traveler to any developing country, and to Africa in particular, I had some expectations. Sights, sounds, and smells were unfamiliar, but mostly different in the ways I anticipated. This might have been the extent of it had I simply been visiting as a tourist. However, I had the opportunity to go beyond the hotel compound and learn more about this wonderful country and the Ethiopian people.
The group I worked with go where they are most needed. Once there, they work to transform or build schools for children that otherwise have very limited access to education. They make sure there is access to clean drinking water. They build toilets separated for boys and girls. They build classrooms, hire teachers, and deliver programs in early childhood education, literacy, adolescent development, and health and nutrition. They teach the children and the entire community. Above all, they make a difference in the lives of their fellow Ethiopians.
The schools in Ethiopia are still much different than the schools most people are used to. There are no school buses. Children walk a long way for the chance to learn. The location is remote. There is a single slate for every student rather than lockers stuffed with notebooks.
But in the bigger picture, the difference is not so great. While there, I sat in on a PTA meeting. I witnessed the local people and communities working together because they know the value education provides to their children. I met teachers that have become part of the community where they teach. These teachers care about their students and know how to help them learn vital skills. And as I saw kids walking to take their year-end tests, the excitement to learn was as easy to see as their smiling faces.
By the end of the week, I had spoken with many people, and had a chance to introduce more than 50 people in the field office to QwikSolver, a problem solving method we use at Xerox that is focused on continuous improvement. What wasn’t new was their desire to learn, improve, and offer even more to the children they serve.
With apologies to the imaging science field, visual contrast really doesn’t let you see the whole picture. Sometimes you have to see and experience the world. And no matter where you go, people are always looking for new and better ways to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.
May 22nd, 2013
By Dr. Kevin Nietzer, DMD, West Hawaii Community Health Center
“A child’s smile is one of life’s greatest blessings.” – Unknown Author
As a dentist, I can’t agree more. One of my favorite things about my job is seeing a child smile up at me after a dental checkup. And what’s most rewarding is seeing the change from when a very young child is nervous coming to my office to when she’s a little older and comes back in, hops into the chair, and shares her joy with me with a big, toothy grin.
For the past two years, I have been fortunate enough to participate in Xerox’s Making Smiles Brighter Dental Outreach Initiative when it has come to Hawaii. The educational program, which launched in 2004 and travels around the country, has one main goal: promote fundamental improvements in the dental health status of at-risk and underserved children. Children from low-income families are less likely to see a dentist regularly and will suffer from twice as many cavities as their peers. Since its inception, the Making Smiles Brighter dental outreach initiative has screened more than 37,000 children in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
Dental problems are also one of the most frequently cited reasons for school absences. Making Smiles Brighter usually takes place at an elementary school, and it starts with a presentation using a video and a giant set of teeth and a toothbrush to demonstrate proper brushing techniques. We then give the children on-site dental screenings to determine their dental needs. For some, these screenings are their first check-up ever. I’ve found that some of them have been in pain for a long time and require immediate attention. Our goal is to provide the children and their caregivers with recommendations for improving the dental health of these kids.
This year, the Making Smiles Brighter program brought me, another dentist and two dental hygienists from West Hawaii Community Health Center to Kahakai and Kealakehe elementary schools in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. We volunteered our time to educate and perform dental check-ups on approximately 1,600 Kindergarten through 5th grade students in two days.
Programs like Xerox’s Making Smiles Brighter initiative helps kids realize that the dentist office is not a scary place to go. It’s a great feeling for dentists when children finally see that we are here to help them – and that makes us smile.
Making Smiles Brighter went to Montana in April and educated and screened approximately 300 kids, and it will be making stops in California, Connecticut, New Mexico and Wyoming later this year. Learn more at www.facebook.com/makingsmilesbrighter.
May 17th, 2013
By Connie Harvey, COO, Commercial Services, Xerox
“Hero” is a pretty big word to use lightly. When I hear it, I think of our military members freely sacrificing to keep us safe. Or Charles Lindbergh or Neil Armstrong. And you can’t forget about political heroes like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.
But those folks are few and far between. I believe it’s also the “everyday heroes” that help make a difference in our world today. People who go the extra mile to make a difference – Liberty Mutual showcases this idea nicely in their “Pay it Forward” series of commercials.
Recently I was the chair of the American Red Cross Heroes Fundraising Campaign for a local chapter in Kentucky and we met some amazing people along the way – everyday heroes right here at Xerox.
Dwan McKnight has been in recovery for nearly six years. He’s not proud of his past, but knows by sharing it with others he is helping prevent others from following in his footsteps. He rarely turns down an opportunity to speak about his struggles, speaking to 10-12 groups a year about his choices and problems they caused.
For the last five years, Janet Francis has volunteered at the food bank at her church; serving meals every Tuesday to about 50 people a week. They share a meal, join in prayer and discuss their faith. That’s about 12,000 people she’s helped over the last five years.
Stephanie Roberts is never one to run away from problems – she runs toward them, or at least runs for the cause. She’s run in about 25-30 road races over the last three years. She picks races that fund causes she supports. The old saying about walking a mile in someone’s shoes has never been truer than for Stephanie.
As part of the fundraiser, the Red Cross calls for nominees for a local “Hero of the Year” award. We nominated Dwan, Janet and Stephanie for their accomplishments.
With more than 140,000 Xerox people around the world, I know we have thousands more people and stories just like this. It’s the people that make the difference in our company. It’s our people that are allowing others to have a more normal life that we all take for granted. Dwan, Janet and Stephanie have been added to my list of heroes.
Connie Harvey is an engineer by training and loves to travel. She’s visited six of the seven continents, but has no plans to visit the seventh.
May 1st, 2013
By John Lanphere, manager, Business Transformation, Xerox
John Lanphere is one of five Xerox employees granted a fully-paid leave of absence this year through the Xerox Social Service Leave program. He is currently in his fifth month of the program, working with Save The Children in Westport, CT, and will continue through December 2013.
Pi is famously calculated to trillions of digits—but how many of them do we really, really need? Apparently, just 39 will do.
I was watching a recent video which suggested that taking Pi to 39 digits allows you to measure the circumference of the observable universe to within the width of a single hydrogen atom. Sure, you could use more digits, but it’s not really worth the effort. And that means that on a day-to-day basis, you can ignore most of those pesky digits.
And going one step further, using 3.1 digits gets you to a 95 percent confidence interval.
But what exactly does this have to do with my social service leave experience? Great question.
I was talking to a colleague at Xerox recently and sharing my reflection that even when we think we have a streamlined approach, it still needs to be trimmed way down when applied here at Save The Children. A smaller organization can’t tolerate waste when trying to remove waste. There’s no spare capacity. The phones still ring. Someone has to answer them. When coming to a (much) smaller organization, it is obvious there needs to be a lighter weight approach. I’ve learned that often 20 percent of the approach is capable of getting 80 percent of the results. More lean. Less precision. Same great taste. Less filling.
And once you realize that, the next obvious question is, “Why isn’t that approach good enough all of the time?” Well, sometimes ‘close’ is good enough. Sometimes, of course, it isn’t. The trick is to be aware of the opportunity to streamline and decide what you need.
I find myself wondering how often I’ve fallen into the trap of, “That’s just the way it’s done,” and not stopping to ask myself, “How much do I really need?” At least for now, I know I’ll be asking myself this question a lot more often.
Here at Save The Children I have the ability to take some of the things I’ve learned during my career at Xerox and really make a difference in the community. It’s an extremely rewarding experience and I look forward to seeing how else I can contribute.
Follow the rest of John’s Social Service Leave experience on his personal blog: http://steppingoutsocial.blogspot.com/
April 16th, 2013
By Alex Charles, Corporate Public Relations, Xerox
If money were no object, what would you do with your free time?
For five Xerox employees, the answer is easy—give back. Through Xerox’s Social Service Leave program, five employees have received a fully paid leave of absence to volunteer for local non-profit organizations in their communities.
This year’s class of Social Service Leave participants will help a varied group of organizations and causes which include: Warrior Weekend Program, Rotary Club University Area Foundation, Save the Children, the Venice Family Clinic and the St. Joseph Food Program.
Xerox’s Social Service Leave program benefits the organizations and causes served as well as the company itself.
As the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management, our collective expertise is a boon to many of the causes and nonprofit organizations our employees hold dear. And because our employees are given the opportunity to give back to their local communities, many employees return feeling refreshed and re-energized.
I’ve even heard many former Social Service Leave participants say that the experience changes your life. Irene Hickey, who will be working with the Rotary Club during her leave to provide low cost, fully furnished housing to firefighters (and their families); explained what her leave has meant to her:
“This social service leave gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity to pursue a dream of helping others. My life has changed as a result of it. The Xerox Foundation truly made my dream come true by affording me this opportunity. For that, I shall remain always grateful.”
The Social Service Leave program reinforces the promise that our employees work for a company that understands its responsibility to the community at large. And because Xerox recruits talented individuals who share its understanding of social responsibility, the Social Service Leave marries two of the company’s core values; being a good corporate citizen and valuing our employees.
Congratulations to this year’s class on your selection. As an employee of the company you represent, we’re grateful for your example of service and focus on public good.