by Martin Rowan
At Reveal, we talk a lot about giving back and how it is core to our beliefs. Besides donating a portion of our profits, we also provide all employees with the opportunity to take “give back” time off. Using this give-back time, my family and I recently took a trip to the Philippines, where our core purpose was to work with a group that tries to rescue the street children who live there from circumstances beyond their control. The dirty back streets of Manila are filled with children who sleep on cardboard, still high on glue that they sniff to remove the hunger pangs, and who are in dire need of love, support and food.
I remember one morning on this trip, we entered an area called Divisoria before sunrise. It is a street-market filled with street children before they scatter to begin a day of scouring and begging. After waking the children, we cleaned some and changed the “diapers” of others. Then we sat and gave them food — similar to “Feed my Starving Children” packages. In many cases, it was the only warm meal these children received in days.
One 8-year old girl took my hand and looked up at me. At first, I thought she wanted to ask me something, but when I bent over to hear what she wanted to say, I smelled the glue and realized she was holding onto me because she could barely keep her balance. She told us that, during the day, she begs for food to feed herself and her five siblings. Her mother passed away a year before, and her father was trying to hold down a job at the local port. Since her mom passed, she and her siblings stopped going to school because, in her words, “I did not have food to take with me to school.” This drove them to the “normality” of street begging and glue sniffing. Her story touched me beyond belief, because if only she had a lunch bag (something we take for granted), she could attend school again and possibly have a chance of breaking the cycle of poverty.
Our journey actually began three years earlier when my family and I first went to help the 1.5 million street children in the Philippines. These are children who are abandoned, abused and dangerously neglected. They roam the streets and sleep on sidewalks, in alleyways, fields, marketplaces or parked vehicles. They will never attend school, and are subjected to a host of physical, mental and psychological problems; children who, on a daily basis, face real dangers of predation by sex offenders, sex traffickers and criminal elements.
That journey began a transformation that I would never have expected — not only in how our family sees the world outside our safe suburban life, but also in me. This transformation translated into a radical change within the leadership of Reveal, the way we do business and the principles that define us. As a company, we embarked on a business transformation journey that led us to defining a purpose bigger than ourselves. This purpose drives us to use our supply chain knowledge to drive benefit to the world around us — a purpose where Reveal employees share core beliefs and are empowered to find the hidden value in their clients and to be principle-centered leaders in their own communities.
As we at Reveal like to say, “We believe that the supply chain is an indispensable link toward commercial success and social good; it is our goal to create ongoing value for both.”
If you are curious about how to adopt a purpose beyond profit, we’d be happy to share more stories and help you establish a platform of your own.Tags: corporate mission, giving back, philanthropy