As an industry veteran and Telesign newcomer, Chief People Officer Jamie Girouard launched her tenure by learning what matters to Telesigners — from Telesigners.
“Corporate social responsibility is a new adventure for us,” Girouard said. “And there’s been immense positive feedback around the concept of building our communities and giving back.”
Harvard Business School defines corporate social responsibility (CSR) as “the idea that a business has a responsibility to the society that exists around it.” While the concept is not new, the conversation around CSR has shifted immensely in recent years.
Forbes recently reported that, “Prior to 2020, the focus of Corporate Social Responsibility had typically been global warming, climate action, sustainability, adherence to diversity and inclusion principles … but Covid-19 moved the focus onto what companies are doing to give back to their communities and care for now-remote employees.”
This cultural evolution was noticed by Telsign’s employees, as well.
“There has been a significant shift in the culture here since Covid-19,” agreed Telesign Creative Director Allyson Kohler. “There’s so much more focus on the employee experience and uplifting corporate social responsibility.”
Kohler, who has always been drawn to the “positive vibe” of Telesign, sees this cultural progress as an elevation of the company’s cornerstone values.
“We’ve built Telesign’s brand around the concept of trust,” Kohler said. “We see it not only in our business practices but also in the employee experience: We’re given the power to give back to the community how we choose.”
What Telesign Does
Asked how CSR manifests at Telesign today, Kohler and Lou Espinoza volleyed shimmering examples.
For Kohler, CSR isn’t just about resources and intent — it’s about time allotted and time spent. She is thrilled by the 40 hours of dedicated volunteer time Telesigners have at their fingertips, as well as the guidance that comes with it.
“We’re all given numerous opportunities to give back to the community,” Kohler said. “We’re provided with options and ideas to get started, but, ultimately, we have the ability to choose what we want to do with that volunteer time.”
“Ultimately, we have the ability to choose what we want to do with that volunteer time.”
Meanwhile, Espinoza embraces the “lunch and learns” that grace his schedule, specifically those that educate the company about unique demographics and populations.
“We’ve had speakers for Pacific Islander Heritage month, Pride Month and neurodiversity,” he said. “Learning the history and impact of these topics sheds light in such a way that others can carry the torch forward.”
Kohler chimed in: “We recently had one with some of our veterans — including the CEO — who shared their experiences in the military.”
Girouard nodded. “It really gets conversations started, doesn’t it? It provides an important platform and the opportunity to share a conversation you might not normally take part in.”
These conversations have also opened the door for Telesign to advance its CSR with an eye for overlooked communities.
Thus far, the zenith of Telesign’s global CSR initiative and planning came during two moments: The company’s mid-year July summits at the Marina del Rey headquarters and the company's second-largest location in Belgrade. At these summits, the Telesign team was tasked with choosing a specific focus for the year’s CSR efforts.
After careful deliberation and voting from Telesigners across the globe, STEM equity surfaced as the conspicuous favorite.
“It has such a great alignment with what we do,” Girouard enthused. “Building relationships with women, underrepresented and underserved groups in STEM in our community is truly the perfect endeavor.”
With the company’s CSR commitment selected, the next step was putting employees to action with the first annual global #TelesignCares Week that took place in November. During this week, all employees were encouraged to use their volunteer time off to give back to the community by choosing from a list of curated volunteer opportunities that align with the focus on STEM equity.
During the #TelesignCares Week — while building science kits for Angelino elementary schoolers — Espinoza reflected on his own experience as a young student. Carefully packing boxes among his cohorts, he listened to statistics about the LA Unified School District, which still struggles to properly support young learners in their STEM education.
Los Angeles, Telesign’s home base and the second-largest public school district in the country, has long reported a scarcity of resources for supporting young students of science. As a part of its local CSR efforts, Telesign has joined the movement to empower Angelino educators to bolster elementary STEM education in a variety of ways.
Building relationships with women, underrepresented and underserved groups in STEM in our community is truly the perfect endeavor.”
For Espinoza, Telesign’s STEM initiative strikes a familiar chord.
“I grew up in Los Angeles,” Espinoza said, adjusting the supra-aural headphones that hold back his inky black hair.
Kohler, who is a 17-year Angelino transplant, beamed at the realization. “A rare Los Angeles native!” she exclaimed.
Espinoza nodded proudly.
“Absolutely,” he continued. “I went to school in the Palms neighborhood — and I didn’t have that opportunity to get much exposure to science.”
The community service exercise welded a long-forgotten synapse for Espinoza, who hadn’t fully reflected on his roundabout pathway to the tech industry. While there are countless ways to forge one’s route to the tech world, Espinoza is an advocate for equity of opportunity and education.
“STEM is at the core of so many career paths,” he said. “It’s so important to shift the focus into giving that opportunity to all students. It’s exciting that the Telesign team has a voice to actually choose how we want to give back.”