From Routine Email To Transformative Alliance
In 2013, Marla Gitterman was Bpeace's Chief Program Officer. Jordan Less was a young professional who had recently joined the global management consulting and technology firm, ZS. Marla reached out to Jordan with a volunteer opportunity, and that brief email ignited a powerful and growing partnership based on the strong synergy between the Bpeace mission and ZS's firmwide values.
In the 10 years since that email, Jordan, now a Strategy and Transformation Manager at ZS, has become a member of the Bpeace Executive Council, and his impact goes far beyond his own pro bono work. Jordan helped spur at least 86 ZS employees-ranging from senior executives to midlevel managers and associates-to volunteer their time and expertise in the Bpeace community as Skillanthropists. With strong support from ZS Principals Daniel Brox and Victoria Summers, who serve as Bpeace Sponsor and ESG Lead, ZS employees have strengthened, and continue to strengthen, Fast Runner businesses in Guatemala, El Salvador and the United States.
ZS Boosts Bpeace's Second Cohort In The U.S.
Recognizing the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on minority-owned businesses, Bpeace launched its first U.S. cohort in 2019, aiming to foster inclusive and equitable rebuilding within the American business community.
Meanwhile, Marla had stepped down from the Chief Program Officer role to focus on her family. But in 2022, she returned to manage Bpeace's second U.S. cohort of Black and women-owned businesses-Jobs Maximizer-implemented in partnership with AEO and funded by the Truist Foundation.
Without hesitation, she turned to Jordan and the growing number of ZS colleagues to enlist their expertise and guidance.
Building on his experience with Fast Runners in Central America, Jordan and ZSers Karisa Mashlan, Patrice Johnson and Tushar Kad led a Learning Lab introducing Objectives and Key Results (OKR). This innovative business planning tool became a standout feature of Bpeace, with well over 100 Fast Runner businesses having benefited from OKR Learning Labs delivered by ZS employees. For the U.S. Fast Runner business leaders, the OKR Learning Lab was a highlight of the program.
How Employees At U.S. Companies Help Small Businesses Grow
Corporations join Bpeace to offer their employees opportunities for creating a lasting impact by sharing their business skills with owners of small and midsize businesses worldwide, who are confronted with significant challenges.
Here's what ZS employees value from their work with Bpeace:
- Giving back to their communities: With a significant portion of the U.S. cohort based in Atlanta, ZS employees from the Atlanta office could contribute to their local community directly.
- Making a positive impact: By sharing their knowledge and skills, ZS employees contribute to a global effort to create jobs and empower business leaders in communities that need it the most.
- Professional growth: Employees at all levels, from entry-level to seasoned executives, have the chance to enhance their skills and gain new experiences by working with Bpeace Fast Runner businesses.
- Building relationships: Engaging with Bpeace fosters lasting connections among fellow employees, Bpeace staff, other Skillanthropists and the business owners in the Bpeace portfolio.
- Support and tools make it easy: Bpeace provides comprehensive tools, frameworks, orientations, training and a supportive community to facilitate an impactful and rewarding volunteer journey.
To this day, the relationship between Bpeace and ZS continues to deepen and grow, driven by a shared commitment to make a positive and lasting impact on businesses and communities where the need is greatest. Jordan Less continues to be a driving force, joined by Patrice Johnson who has helped spur a new ZS Bpeace Core Team with the express goal of expanding and strengthening the partnership moving forward.
ZS employees have contributed their knowledge, skills and passion to uplift Bpeace Fast Runner businesses around the world. They have made a measurable difference in the growth of these businesses and in the stability and health of the employees, their families and surrounding communities.