Dow’s John Sampson on Improving Employee Engagement for Community Impact

Originally published at John Sampson is Dow’s Senior Vice President of Operations, Manufacturing and Engineering. Dow ranked No. 19 on The Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.


This month, we launched Dow’s first-ever global Volunteer and ERG Participation policy, which allows all of our employees paid time off to volunteer and engage in Employee Resource Group (ERG) activities.

This global policy builds on our strong culture of engagement and will help us achieve our Engaging for Impact 2025 Sustainability Goal. It will support our employees to give back to the communities where they live and work by volunteering with non-profits, schools and other charitable organizations and helps to advance our Global Citizenship priorities and investments. It will also support engagement in our 10 employee resource groups, who do vital work to enable our Company’s ambition to be the most inclusive materials science company in the world. The policy provides each employee 12 hours per year of paid time off to participate in these initiatives during scheduled working hours.


Why is a policy important for our employees and our ambition?

This is a value-added benefit for all our employees but especially our manufacturing colleagues who make up 60% of our global workforce and support 24-hour operations for our plants and other facilities. It will level the playing field for all our employees when it comes to these efforts, and I’m inspired about how this will make a difference.

To better understand the impact of this change on our team, I would like to share some feedback from three Dow colleagues:


• Garnet Carmichael, operator at Dow’s Alberta Operations in Canada

As a shift worker in one of our plants, why is this global volunteer and ERG participation policy important to you?

I have five children, I work full-time, and I love to help out in my community, so my life is very busy.

A lot of us shift workers give two weekends a month to Dow, sometimes even more if our plant is in the middle of a maintenance outage or has an unplanned event, so our time to connect with our families and friends is extremely precious. Having the flexibility to volunteer during normal working hours is huge for me.

The times I have been able to volunteer on behalf of Dow in my community have been some of the most rewarding moments in my career. I led a conservation and sustainable fishing volunteer project for my colleagues a few years ago, and I also recently signed up for Dow’s Veterans Network and started volunteering with Team Rubicon Canada. So, I’m excited this policy change extends to ERG engagement too.


How do you think this new policy will support our Company’s ambition to be the most inclusive materials science company in the world? 

A long career is full of ups and downs both personally and professionally. I went through some challenges that impacted my ability to be productive at home and at work. My team and my leader’s support helped me through these challenges and now I feel stronger, more engaged and ready to make a positive impact in my community. This is what being an inclusive company means – supporting each other through the ups and downs – and this new policy supports us to do exactly that both inside and outside of Dow.


• Guowei Li, senior operations leader at Dow Zhangjiagang (ZJG) Operations in China

How does volunteering make you feel more connected to your community and more engaged at Dow?

Since I joined Dow ZJG operations in 2011, I led volunteer programs in diversified community initiatives Dow held in its neighborhood. From teaching STEM at the local primary school to building homes, I felt the impact I can have in our community and found ways to empower more people around me to make an even greater impact.

As the co-focal point of RISE and PRIME in Dow ZJG, I was honored to work as the site volunteer leader since 2018.

Together, in 2020, we launched the ZJG Green Campus project, one of the most impactful citizenship projects since Dow started operation in ZJG in 2002. The revamped recreational facilities using Dow’s green solutions benefited more than 4,000 students and teachers.

I also feel fulfilled and inspired by my volunteer peers as well. Whenever we have activities open, the volunteer seats are booked in just minutes. I think that’s the power of shared value and colleagueship, friendship and even leadership we can build up through this new policy.


• Katarzyna Kaczorowska, senior customer manager in Warsaw, Poland

How has your involvement with Dow’s ERGs influenced your experience at Dow?

One of the best experiences I’ve had at Dow is being able to come up with an idea to help build inclusion and equity in my community and having Dow provide funding for the project through our ALL IN ERG Fund.

As an active member of our Women’s Inclusion and our Disability Networks, we’re leading a community-based project called the Women’s Academy of Power. By working with a local non-profit, this project is helping women in Poland, especially victims of gender-based violence, to help them defend their rights, express their needs and speak up for social and legislative change. Working for a company that supports my passion for making a positive social impact in my community feels truly inspiring.


The case for improved employee engagement is there. In our 2020 global employee VOICE survey, more than half of our employees indicated they volunteered and participated in an ERG. The survey showed a link between engaged employees who volunteered and/or participated in ERGs and those that reported a positive employee experience and strong engagement level. Receiving direct feedback from our employees is important to make sure we’re creating a company culture that provides an environment for them to do their best work. It’s also imperative to consider engagement and how important it is to attract talent. According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, 71% of potential employees expect opportunities for social impact from their employer, and this expectation can have a strong correlation with where employees choose to work.

I’m proud of the fact that our Company is providing these opportunities to our employees and I’m just as proud to see our employees have an impact on the communities in which we work and live.

Interested to check out Dow’s ESG report and learn more about our commitment to engaging for impact? Click here.