As the Techweek Gives campaign gains momentum, we continue to be humbled by the meaningful ways that participating companies are contributing to the city of Chicago through giving. We were particularly excited this week to catch up with campaign partner company Clique Studios, an award-winning design and engineering agency, who has truly been a leading example here in the city from the very beginning of the campaign.
After speaking with Brent Williams, Director of Education, about the company's focus on the Chicago community, it is clear that Clique Studios doesn't just pay lip service to commiting to giving back. It is truly core to who they are as an organization and how they do business.
What motivates Clique Studios to give back via services in the community?
BW - I think we view all of our work as connecting and improving the community. Sometimes that means individuals on our team doing pro-bono work, leading skills shares and occasionally a larger company-wide project. Often, a community organization we have a relationship with has a significant opportunity to expand their impact, but need a little help on the digital side. Situations like that where we've identified an opportunity for us to affect real change are not only wins for them, but also really important for us.
What are some of the unique ways you encourage your employees to give back to the community through sharing skills or pro bono service? (Highlight the great workshops you are running!)
BW - We've always maintained a commitment to sharing our skills with the community, a venture we call Clique University (CU). Through CU we've taught classes at most of the bootcamps, universities and co-working spaces in Chicago. We've always had active team members on nonprofit boards including World Business Chicago, CASA Cook County, World Future Society and Cure Violence. We love bringing our team members’ passion for community involvement into the workplace—to prove that commitment, we've give everyone 2 days off each year to volunteer, teach, or mentor in the community.
With our interest and commitment to skill-sharing and community involvement, it was a no-brainer to partner with uBack for Techweek Gives. The support and encouragement of uBack has lowered the perceived barrier for our team members to take on community projects themselves. Here are a couple recent examples:
- A few team members are very interested in expanding web accessibility so they've partnered with local NPO's to lead an accessibility Tweetchat, two workshops and hackathon on the topic.
- We're partnering with the uBack team to do a skills-exchange with the Explorer Program. They’ll be coming into our office to teach our team about photography, which they’ve learned in their program over the last 6 months.
- I'm personally very excited to that we've started a free 90 minute Wordpress training program to help NPO’s (70% of which use Wordpress) better leverage their existing websites without spending additional money.
Ultimately these initiatives have grown organically from our team because they’ve been able to pick projects of interest to them and find needs in the community that align with our capabilities.
What have been some of the most rewarding outcomes of getting your employees involved in local causes? Have you seen a direct correlations to talent engagement and otherwise?
BW- Agencies like ours attract doers—people looking to get their hands dirty and leave each day with a sense of accomplishment. You cannot retain employees like these with gimmicks; you really have to understand what’s driving them. We built a tool specifically designed for this called HappyMeter. Through HappyMeter we’ve accumulated a ton of data, some of which indicates our team wants even more opportunities to grow their skills and make a positive impact on our community. Skills-based volunteering, like the initiatives above, accomplishes both of those goals at the same time! We’ve seen one employee—our Head of Digital Support—totally rearrange his schedule so he can leave the office early to mentor in Hyde Park. We know that supporting him in that effort builds a stronger bond with us and with the work he does here.
What responsibility do you think companies in the tech ecosystem have in creating tangible impact in communities through volunteerism and giving back?
BW - I won’t pretend to know what is right for other companies. I do know that Clique wouldn’t be here without a lot support and guidance from the community.
Our clients mainly come to us via word of mouth; that does not and can not happen without a vibrant and connected community. Furthermore, the employees we find, hire, and train often grew up in this community, benefitting from and feeling an unbreakable connection to the city and all it has to offer.
For us, it’s never been a question of if we would try to give back. It’s all about how we can do it in sustainable and authentic ways for our team and company, and in a way that best serves the community.
Why is supporting a campaign like Techweek Gives something of value to your employees and what makes you encouraged or enthusiastic about seeing other companies jumping on board?
BW - We learned a long time ago that you can’t force your people to do things they’re not interested in. The brilliance of the uBack Techweek Gives campaign is the breadth of volunteer, donation, and pro-bono opportunities it gives our team. I can imagine other companies have different interests and skillsets than ours, but that's the beauty of the campaign—it allows for and embraces those differences. It has been really inspiring to see the variety of companies involved, and to learn more about how they’re giving back.
** In the last year Clique Studios has grown revenue 50%, NPS 30%, developed 40+ site’s/apps for Chicago companies, launched happymeter.lol and mentored at most of the bootcamps, co-working spaces and universities in the city.
The Techweek Gives campaign, powered by uBack, is working to raise $1 million and commit 10,000 volunteer hours in 90 days. To learn more, click here.