Wake Forest MBA Net Impact competition helps Home Depot increase employee volunteerism

1.31.2006 General, News Release, School News

Students from six of the Southeast’s best MBA programs provided their best recommendations for boosting employee volunteerism at The Home Depot in the second annual Wake Forest MBA Net Impact Case Competition held Jan. 13 at Wake Forest University’s Babcock Graduate School of Management.

The one-day competition was organized by the Wake Forest MBA chapter of the Net Impact club, a national network of business leaders and MBA students committed to incorporating social and environmental factors into business decisions.

Students were challenged to devise ways of revitalizing the spirit of employee volunteer work at The Home Depot, corporate sponsor for this year’s competition, in order to maintain support for the company’s strong community affairs initiatives. Schools competing were the University of Georgia (first place), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (second place), Georgetown University, the University of South Carolina, Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest.

The Home Depot maintains a strong partnership with the Hands-on Network, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization that aims to bring people together through volunteer services. Hands-on Network provides leadership training and project management resources to more than 52 local, national and international grassroots volunteer organizations to enable volunteers to participate in a wide variety of projects.

Robert Nardelli, chief executive officer of The Home Depot, chairs the Hands-on Network Service Council, an alliance of CEOs and civic leaders that seeks to mobilize 6.4 million volunteers and 100,000 volunteer leaders throughout North America over the next two years. The Home Depot has a tradition of community volunteer work, and employees at all levels are encouraged to contribute their time in local communities.

Some of the issues that competing teams addressed were:

  • The challenges of sustaining this level of volunteerism;
  • Ways to increase employee volunteers at The Home Depot by 10 percent;
  • Methods of communicating community involvement and the results of their employee volunteer efforts to the public;
  • Determining how employees should be recognized and rewarded for their dedication and commitment to volunteer efforts; and
  • Deciding whether volunteer efforts should be limited to those clearly aligned with the company’s identity as a home improvement and construction retailer.

Competing teams had six hours after receiving the case to develop strategies and formulate solutions before presenting their analysis to a panel of judges. The judges evaluated each team’s quality of the analysis and creativity of solutions, and awarded prizes from the sponsor to the winning teams. Corporate and community leaders from The Home Depot, Dell, the Hands-on Network and the United Way served as judges.

Net Impact, with 5,000 leaders and an active membership of more than 2,000 members, offers programs that broaden the education, leadership skills and professional goals of its members.

Wake Forest ranked No. 10 in the world in last October’s Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey for preparing its graduates for social and environmental stewardship. The biennial survey and ranking is produced jointly by the World Resources Institute and the Aspen Institute to honor MBA programs that are taking leading roles in integrating social and environmental stewardship issues into curricula and research.