When I became the first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) coordinator in 2010, my first assignment was to develop an annual event that would allow employees around the company to come together to volunteer in their local communities. We knew that there were plenty of volunteer efforts happening around the company, but because we didn’t have a formal CSR program, we didn’t really know about all of the great things our employees were involved in. This project would be a way for us to get our employees excited and understand what causes they really cared about. We didn’t have a set goal in mind…we just started communicating that we were going to set aside a week for the whole company to volunteer in their communities. We called it Global Impact Week.

I started pounding the pavement and contacting our site directors and HR managers to tell them about the event and get their site’s support, and more importantly, to let them know that employees could volunteer during work hours. This was a big change for us. But once the idea caught on the response was overwhelming! That first year we had 26 sites sign up to volunteer. Around 2,500 employees participated in 80 projects across the company and we logged 7,000 volunteer hours that week. We were really happy with how well our first event turned out.

Global Impact Week became an annual event and participation increased each year, but a week started to seem like it was just too short. It became difficult to find one week during the year when all of our locations could participate. In 2014, we expanded it to Global Impact Month to give sites more time and flexibility to set up team events that better accommodate their specific work schedules. This allowed more employees to participate. That year, we logged more than 17,000 hours during the month.

We are continuing to build a culture of giving and caring, and to help us do that, our CEO has issued a year-long challenge for the company to complete 100,000 volunteer hours during 2016. If you had told me four years ago that we would meet that goal, I may not have believed you. But with the increased participation that we’ve seen, not just during Global Impact Month, but year round, I’m confident that we will meet our goal. Our employees are making such an impact in our communities this year, and we are already more than halfway toward our goal.

What started as a one-week volunteer event has turned into a thriving culture of volunteerism at Celanese. Since then, we’ve established the Celanese Foundation, an employee-led effort focusing on improving the quality of life for people around the world through our donations and volunteer time. We now have a Global Citizens Network (GCN) with employee representatives from each site dedicated to serving as Celanese Foundation ambassadors and championing their site’s volunteerism efforts. And we’ve set up a Giving Hub, an online platform that allows employees to log their volunteer hours and find upcoming volunteer events in their local community.

We’re gearing up for this year’s Global Impact Month in September and hope to make this one bigger and better than ever. All of our employees are encouraged to get signed up for a volunteer project and help us Improve the World. We can’t wait to see all of the great things you’ll do in 2016!