Why Fortune 250 Company Lincoln Financial Appreciates the Satell Institute


New SI member Lincoln Financial Group understands that supporting the community is not just good — it’s become very good business.

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The times, Meghan Wright says, have changed for how companies behave.

“Community relations 30 years ago was not what community relations is now,” says Wright, Vice President of Charitable Giving for Lincoln Financial Group and Executive Director of the company’s philanthropic arm, Lincoln Financial Foundation. “People didn’t focus on it then. Now it’s not only a priority, but it’s quickly developed into a requirement.”

Indeed, the commitment that corporations make to supporting their communities — particularly through philanthropy and volunteerism — impacts not only how customers think about them, but also their own employees. Done well, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be an important driver of a company’s culture and employee engagement. As Wright sums up the new attitude: “Good businesses do good work in the community.”

At Lincoln Financial — the Fortune 250 company that is headquartered in Radnor, Pa. with offices in 10 cities across the country — the commitment to CSR starts in the C-suite and infuses the entire organization. It’s one of the reasons the organization decided to become a member of the Satell Institute, the leading CEO organization dedicated to CSR.

In this new conversation, Meghan Wright talks about the company’s approach to CSR; her own professional background with the Boston Celtics and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and the multitude of benefits that Lincoln Financial gets thanks to its membership in SI.

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When it comes to CSR…
…Lincoln Financial has a robust team. In addition to my role, Allison Green Johnson serves not only as the president of Lincoln Financial Foundation, but also Chief Diversity Officer of Lincoln Financial Group. We have three national directors who oversee our three pillars of giving: Education, Human Services, with a primary focus on housing and food, and Financial Wellness. We also have a member of the team who oversees our volunteer programs, as well as a data analyst.

The mission and purpose of Lincoln Financial Group…
… is to provide bright financial futures. What’s great is that the mission of our philanthropy is the same as our company. Our goal is to brighten the financial futures of those who live in the communities that we serve, which then strengthens the communities themselves.

When your corporate mission is closely connected to your philanthropy, like ours is…
… it makes a lot of sense. Because you can start to pull levers on your resources, your talent and your area of expertise.

I’m originally from Boston…
…and I was very fortunate early in my career to get a job with the hometown team, the Boston Celtics. I’m an enormous fan. I started in sales, and after a couple of years my boss offered me the chance to combine my personal passion for community relations and lead the department.

I was thrilled to take the opportunity, and it was such a great challenge to maximize a brand to do impactful work in the community. And from a business perspective, it was a way to leverage what we were doing in the community to strengthen the brand. I loved every minute of it.

When I relocated to Philadelphia, I went to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where I predominately focused on corporate philanthropy. I got a deep understanding of how the nonprofit environment works from an outstanding organization.

When the opportunity opened at Lincoln…
… it was literally the perfect coming together of things. Lincoln is well known as being very committed in the philanthropic environment.

In addition to philanthropic support, Lincoln invests in employee passions through things like our matching gift program and our LIVE (Lincoln Invests in Volunteer Experiences) program, which recognizes volunteering. We give grants to organizations where our employees invest their time.

Volunteering is something for which the Lincoln team is well known, and it’s an important part of our strategy. We’ve really thought through how we can use the time and talents of our employee base to support communities.

Our commitment to being part of communities…
… comes all the way from the top. Our senior leadership is supportive, involved and committed to what we’re doing. CSR only works well if it’s promoted from the top. This is not an upstream line of work.

Our passion for CSR…
….really influences our culture. It’s a point of pride across our cities, and we see it reflected in employee engagement surveys. When we ask people how they feel about Lincoln, our approach to CSR is rated highly. They feel a connectedness to it, so it becomes more than just a job. We see ourselves as a member of the community wherever we do business.

I first heard about the Satell Institute….
…from the non-profit sector.  When I came over to Lincoln, I connected with [SI’s] Regina Black-Lennox. It became clear it was something we should be doing.

There are so many benefits. We’re able to elevate our nonprofit partner, Clarifi, to get some of the resources of the Satell Institute, as well as exposure to the financial wellness work they’re doing.

We get alignment with peer organizations who are like-minded about the commitment to Philadelphia and other communities. There’s a camaraderie, a sharing of best practices and exposure to new opportunities and new organizations you might not be aware of. Being among colleagues to share challenges and opportunities is a win-win. Members don’t need to be sold on the importance of community involvement. They’re already there.

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