Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards Finalist Interview with Tiffany Lamkin, Director of Human Resources, Van Metre Companies
1. Why do you believe CSR strategy is important for a company/you?
Our founder, Albert G. Van Metre, Sr. (Al), was a lifelong resident of the greater Washington, DC area. During his lifetime, he demonstrated a long legacy of philanthropy that focused on local charities. Today, we honor Al’s memory by continuing this tradition of supporting local charities, by giving back to our community and, most importantly, by being a company that cares. Our decision to emphasize community service and charitable efforts is of the utmost importance to all of us, and we participate out of a strong belief in the importance of sharing our successes and commitments. Van Metre’s Culture Statement directly references its commitment to the community and states that Van Metre employees should participate in their communities, support charitable efforts that are consistent with their personal beliefs, and encourage the efforts of their co-workers to volunteer their time to help those in need.
2. Do you believe that the CSR work you participate in should be affiliated with the work you/your company does? For example, should an Oil company’s CSR be in cleaning up oil spills?
Van Metre Companies is dedicated to building and continually improving upon the storied reputation of providing top quality homes, investment properties and services to our customers and clients. The Company’s emphasis on integrity, professionalism and philanthropy ingrained by our founder Albert G. Van Metre, Sr. has earned trust and respect in the Washington, D.C. area and beyond. We believe that it is critical to our future that we maintain and enhance that reputation and assure that Van Metre Companies continues to excel. We have a culture of caring and sharing fueled by core values of integrity, ownership, respect, dignity, teamwork, work/life balance and community. We feel that giving back to the community, through service and philanthropy will make our communities stronger.
3. What makes you/your company stand out compared to other individuals/companies participating in CSR?
Our commitment to philanthropy is so important to us that we formed The Van Metre Companies Foundation in May of 2014. The Foundation is run by a group of employees who serve as the Board of Directors and the officers of the Foundation who have full discretion for the disbursement of funds held by the Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of people in the communities where Van Metre carries on its business. The Foundation complements and supports the interests, values and vision of the Van Metre Companies and its employees. It provides financial support to qualified educational, medical, human welfare services, and other 501(c)(3) charitable organizations.
In addition, Van Metre has a volunteer policy that states the following:
“As you know, Van Metre Companies is dedicated to community service and volunteer activity and promotes meaningful volunteer opportunities for teams and individuals. We feel that it is important to encourage our employees to volunteer in their communities or with charitable organizations of their choosing. Full-time employees may take up to 16 hours per calendar year of paid leave in order to volunteer during work hours.”
4. Do you believe contributing back to the community allows you/your company to have a deeper connection with your/its consumers?
We absolutely believe that giving back to the community more deeply connects us to our consumers. When people see the Van Metre name, we want them to associate it with caring and service. We feel very fortunate to be in the position to be charitable. We don’t just build homes, we build communities. The communities that we build and the lives that we change will be our legacy.
5. What are some events or causes that inspire you and your team?
Al Van Metre’s legacy of philanthropy was an inspiration to all of us. We consider it an honor to be able to give back and support our community. In looking for causes to support, we look to see where we can make a difference in people’s lives. Some of the causes that we support are Children’s Hospital, Capital Hospice, HomeAid Northern Virginia, and Women Giving Back. The employee-run Van Metre Companies Foundation has provided $255,624 to 26 area charitable organizations since 2014.
6. What advice would you give to individuals/companies trying to participate in CSR?
It is imperative that the leaders of the organization buy in to the idea of corporate social responsibility, that they lead by example, and that they continually encourage their employees to give back to the communities where they live and work. This should be an ongoing process and should continue to be built upon. It can’t just be a “one and done.”