On the latest episode of Changemakers from Within, we had the pleasure to sit down with Tu-Han Phan, the Head of Social Impact and Diversity at RingCentral. Listen below or where you listen to podcasts:
RingCentral is a tech company headquartered in the Bay Area, and is a leading provider of global enterprise cloud communications and collaboration solutions.
Saving the Pandas
When Tu-Han was turning 9 years old, she was obsessed with pandas. On her 9th birthday, she wanted to raise 900 dollars to help save the endangered species at the time. She explained to us that a few weeks following her birthday, she got a call from the organization asking her if it was really her that raised and donated all the money.
Tu-Han would’ve never guessed that these $900 would launch her entire career in the nonprofit world. Fast forward 10-20 years after this incidence, Tu-Han had sat on several boards as executive director within the nonprofit sector. After years of experience in this sphere, Tu-Han went back to business school, and began to dip her toes in corporate social responsibility.
“I completely thrive in this space of blank canvas. There are no perfect rulebooks and playbooks for how CSR can be effective within a company.”
A Hierarchy of Social Impact Needs
Tu-Han shared with us that the mindset had when she went into starting social impact initiatives at RingCentral was treating it like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for CSR. To explain, Tu-Han expressed that the base of the CSR pyramid at an organization should be what’s legal and what’s required (doing what is obvious). Then, as you travel up the pyramid your organization should be doing what is considered ethical. As you reach the top of the pyramid, your organization must see where it can be strategic so you are able to find real shared value and business development.
Tu-Han even laid this out for us through an example – her own journey at RingCentral. When Tu-Han began, she realized that the company was doing things all across the pyramid in the CSR world, but it wasn’t aggregated and funneled in a focused way. From there, she started from the bottom of the pyramid, and worked towards increasing employee engagement. It was important for Tu-Han to foster a culture at RingCentral that inspired positive social impact.
Tu-Han’s work in diversity and inclusion initiatives funnel into RingCentral’s RCause. This strongly branded program supports local communities through sponsoring ongoing events that provide underrepresented and underprivileged youth with access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. They also offer employees time off to volunteer so they can get involved with local nonprofits and offer donation matching. Tu-Han’s work within this programming is exciting because she is able to collaborate across 5-10 business units across RingCentral in order to continually put CSR at the top of the company’s needs.
It is clear that Tu-Han’s impactful CSR work at RingCentral has brought innovative ideas to the table. For example, one of the things Tu-Han was excited about before COVID-19, was moving people into the cloud. As she said herself, “a lot of companies are using outdated communication tools.” Tu-Han’s excitement about this idea also stems from a sustainability standpoint. Companies getting comfortable doing everything in the cloud; getting employees’ mentality out of constantly printing documents and traveling for in-person meetings- are just a few of the ways that cloud-based communication is efficient. While COVID-19 has negatively impacted many companies around the globe, it forced many to utilize technologies like RingCentral. From a sustainability standpoint, this is an exciting revolution.
Now, what’s next for social impact programming at RingCentral? Tu-Han answered this question in a simple way by returning to the idea of Maslow’s hierarchy. She told us, “I want us to continue to reach towards that sweet spot of shared value.”
Tu-Han shared one last piece of inspiration on today’s podcast:
“I was the little dork who loved pandas, who made it happen. And you can too.”
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