Altruistic Program=More Productive, Loyal Employees

EY’s mentoring program for underserved high school students promotes societal good, but also ends up boosting employee engagement, productivity and retention.

By Eve Tahmincioglu

When EY (No. 3 on the 2016 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) launched a mentoring program to boost the number of underserved high school students enrolling in college in 2009, few expected the impact on employees who volunteered to be a part of it.

Simmons Purdie EY College MAP
Mentee De’Ara Purdie and EY Mentor and creative design manager Chris Simmons at EY’s Richmond, VA, office.

The goal of the program is to help young adults aged 16 to 24 navigate the college application process, and ultimately prepare them for their future careers. The success has been clear: For those students who have gone through the program, 95 percent are going to college, with more than 1,000 students involved.

College MAP wasn’t set up to groom future employees. “We did not design the program as a pipeline program,” stressed Deborah Holmes, Americas director, corporate responsibility.

But inadvertently, it bolstered EY’s existing pipeline.

“We have proof that employees who have participated stay with the firm longer, and they are statistically more engaged with the firm. And their performance ratings are higher,” she explained.

Over the life of the program, 1,200 EY people have participated as mentors, and currently there are 900 active EY mentors.

And overall these mentors:

  • have longer average tenures with EY than colleagues at the same ranks.
  • are significantly more likely to be 4 or 5 rated in performance reviews (double-digit differences, on a 5 point scale with 5 as the highest performance).
  • have best-in-class employee engagement (3 points higher than U.S. staff-senior managers overall).

Why?

“It’s intensely rewarding,” said Holmes, who herself has mentored students via College MAP.

The program, she added, “brings to life our firm’s purpose — building a better working world. It’s tangible and a great source of pride for our people.”

The ultimate goal of College MAP is to ensure that as students enter college they are able to do well and eventually end up with a degree. Holmes pointed out that many employees within EY understand the struggles that some underserved students face since about one-third of employees are first-generation college graduates.

Indeed, the most vocal advocate of the program at EY is Gary Belske, Americas senior vice chair and chief operating officer of the U.S. firm. “He is first-generation college and he is so passionate about this program,” Holmes explained. “Anywhere he appears this is what he talks about.”

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