Apple committed £1.9 billion ($2.5bn) last year to combat California’s housing crisis. Sure, this is one per cent of the company’s yearly revenue, but it’s been thoughtfully siphoned into several projects, including a £38.3m ($50m) pledge to Silicon Valley’s sustainable housing and homeless prevention organisation, Destination: Home.
Destination: Home’s board, most notably its CEO Jennifer Loving, have spent their lives working to end homelessness. They carry the clout needed to help Santa Clara County’s 7,394 homeless.
Apple refers to the partnership as “working closely with leading experts” and Loving says Apple’s contribution allows her organisation to “scale two proven strategies”. Apple may have reinvented the phone, but they are leaving the wheel well alone here. No gimmicks, or Apple Watches for homeless people, just correctly channelled support. What’s more, companies who consistently top employee-led surveys such as Great Place to Work and Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work are those that score highly on mission (read: purpose), values and trust. The happiest employees – for example those at Cisco, Hilton, Salesforce, Mars, EY – are working for companies who have made big commitments to giving back to the community.
There’s no shame in profit sitting alongside people and planet – just make it a good deal for your client as well as suppliers
As Richard Layard outlines in his book Can We Be Happier?, top markers of a happy individual are good mental health and a sense of purpose in their work. The happiest countries – Finland, followed by the rest of Scandinavia – were more trusting, more generous, had adequate social support, freedom, health and income. So, giving employees the chance to make an impact, act generously, exercise and earn at work results in a deliriously happy workforce.
I, readers, am one of the delirious. For eight years I’ve been working for technology firm Cisco (voted 2019’s Best Workplace in the World), and I’m spending my five allotted days a year volunteering my writing skills with the editorial team at The Big Issue.
That’s a bit of a stretch, I hear you say. You could be building water pumps, teaching code or serving in soup kitchens. But I’m also seven weeks away from having a baby, so tapping my fat fingers on a keyboard to help get a brilliant magazine into the hands of vendors is one way I can sensibly make a difference. Of course, next week I will still have a sales target to deliver, remaining no more important than my 70,000 colleagues, but my sense of contribution to a cause will absolutely make me more productive, because I will be grateful, inspired and refreshed.