Refusing to Give Up on Giving Back
By Grant Deady
There was a lot of discussion among Zeno leaders about whether or not we could activate our annual global day of service, Zeno Gives Back, during this past fiscal year. This is a treasured tradition, one created three years ago at the request of Zenoids around the world who wanted to give their time and talents to their communities and do their part to help better humankind.
Since then, we’ve donated over 3,500 hours in helping nonprofits advance their efforts to make a positive impact on society. Our desire and determination was to make Zeno Gives Back 2021 happen, but only if we could do it in a safe way. We pushed off the date twice, planned and then re-planned around the pandemic.
When spring arrived, so did some hope. In select Zeno markets there were positive signs of recovery. It was enough to move forward with our annual event, but as we learned so well over the past year, we needed to re-imagine, get scrappy and find a way to make it work. Smaller groups. Outdoors if possible. Encourage people to activate virtually as individuals. We knew it would not be the same as years past, but we could still make an impact in our communities—providing support to organizations in need and giving an emotional lift to our people.
In Zeno’s usual fearless way, #ZGB magic happened last month. Images from California showing a beach clean up on Half Moon Bay. Masked Zenoids on the streets of Paris picking up trash. Zeno Australia standing up for teen wellness. Our team in Toronto raising funds for India COVID relief. Chicagoans at a park cleaning up, as well as donating time and skills to the DuSable Museum of African American History. Texans digging deep and getting dirty in a community garden. Individuals in their home offices making donations to organizations that stir their souls, while others conducted virtual well-being checks on friends and family.
Inspiring to say the least, but not unexpected. This is how Zeno rolls (sleeves included). It would have been understandable to give up on #ZGB this year, but we found a way to give back. Was it as big and coordinated as years past? No. And as I saw the smiling faces from offices that were able to activate, I thought about our colleagues in places who wished they could.
It was #ZGB “light,” smaller in scale, but still largely important and impactful. A bright boost right at the end of our fiscal year.
Zeno Gives Back will return next year with lots of groups in every market fanning out across our hometowns as a fearless force. I have to believe that will happen. I must believe it will happen.
The organizations we love to support need us. And we need them.
Grant Deady is the Managing Director & Chief Culture Officer of Zeno Group, Chicago
LinkedIn: Grant Deady