Teach them young

KPMG LLP is an international audit, tax and advisory firm, but John Switzer, the Cleveland office’s managing partner, says his company is really about people.

Its national community service program, Involve, was started 10 years ago to coordinate the efforts of employees and partners throughout the firm’s U.S. offices. The corporate headquarters assures that volunteer hours are more than just a project of the month and instead are part of a normal annual process.

“It’s part of our DNA to give back to the community,” Switzer says.

This fall, more than 100 employees from the Cleveland office shared a Saturday working to clean up facilities at five local agencies, among them the Berea Children’s Home and Ronald McDonald House. Each Christmas, the employees of KPMG’s Cleveland office adopt families through The Littlest Heroes organization; last year, they donated more than $3,000 in gifts and gift cards to provide three families with a happy holiday.

They also collected more than $650 last summer to support Hannah’s Home, a crisis pregnancy center in Mentor.

How does the company choose which organizations to help? Switzer says many KPMG partners and employees serve on nonprofit boards, and through their participation, they learn about organizations in need of a helping hand. They also look to United Way and Business Volunteers Unlimited for guidance on which organizations have a high level of need.

Switzer says the best way to create a corporate culture of social responsibility is for the company’s leaders to get involved in the projects.

“If people see the leadership of the organization participating and making it a priority, that’s how you bring it to the group as a whole and send a more powerful message,” he says.

He also sees community involvement as a good retention tool for the firm’s new hires.

“We have a lot of young people that work here, and they have a lot of energy and a lot of strength,” Switzer says. “If you build it early in their careers, people have a lifelong interest in giving back to the community.”

HOW TO REACH: KPMG LLP, (216) 696-9100 or www.kpmg.com