Feature Stories

Committing for Change Through Employee Volunteerism

Dec 1, 2020

At Astellas, we are proud to make a meaningful impact in helping meet the diverse needs of local communities to  create a brighter future for patients, neighbors, and partners. Our goal of #CommittingforChange encourages all full-time Astellas employees in the U.S. the opportunity to take up to five days of paid time off each year to volunteer in local communities at qualified local nonprofit organizations of the employee’s choice. Astellas also organizes group employee volunteer opportunities throughout the year, such as Changing Tomorrow Day and MLK Day. In 2020, Astellas hosted multiple virtual opportunities to maintain employee volunteerism during the global pandemic.

In honor of Giving Tuesday on December 1, three Astellas leaders share thoughts on why giving back to improve the lives of others is core to Astellas culture:  

  • Percival Barretto-Ko (PBK) is President, US Commercial
  • Moyra Knight (MK) is Vice President, Corporate Communications and President of the Astellas Global Health Foundation
  • Osamu Chihara (OC) is Vice President, Corporate Advocacy, CSR.

What is your perspective on the importance of volunteerism at Astellas?

PBK: At Astellas, our commitment to improving the lives of others is at the core of what we do, and our employee volunteers are at the heart of this commitment. We strive to be kind to one another with a variety of initiatives planned year-round to make things better in the communities where we work and live. Earlier this year, we even organized a collection of virtual volunteer opportunities, so our employees could continue to give back to the community while being remote.

OC: I agree. At Astellas, we recognize our responsibility extends beyond the medicines we make. Encouraging our employees around the world to volunteer their time to help people in need is one of the important ways we act on this responsibility.

Why are you passionate about volunteerism?

MK: For me, it is intrinsically rewarding to spend time helping people in our communities who need assistance, which can be as simple as volunteering at a local food bank, collecting items for a shelter, or something else with a qualifying organization that feels meaningful in making a positive difference.

What are some of the benefits you have seen in your teams because of group volunteerism activities?

MK: It is a great source of connection and collaboration, bringing us closer as an organization by having an opportunity to interact with colleagues and meet new people. In the current environment, it also serves as an important connection point as employees work remotely.

What are recent volunteer events the U.S. team has participated in?

PBK: Changing Tomorrow Day is one of my favorite days of the year. It is an opportunity for employees to come together and support those in need in local communities. With our most recent Changing Tomorrow Day, we organized our first virtual program where 1,400 employees donated 6,000 hours assembling kits and more to benefit those in need from home. I personally volunteered my time to assemble a veteran’s comfort bag and wrote messages on cards for veterans and cancer patients.

Why is it important for Astellas to offer its employees the ability to volunteer?

OC: Serving the community is a core value at Astellas. Our employees give their time and support to countless organizations around the world to help build healthier and more sustainable communities. It is incredible to see the impact we can have when we’re focused on one common purpose. Changing Tomorrow Day is one of countless examples of Astellas offices around the world organizing opportunities for employees to support those in need in our communities.

Why are you proud to be leaders in a company that supports volunteerism as Astellas does?

MK: As a result of Astellas U.S. employees’ overall commitment to volunteerism, more than 165,000 hours have been donated since 2009. That’s the equivalent of nearly 20 years of time. It is impressive to see what we can accomplish together. Volunteerism helps me to do what I love, which is connect people to facilitate change.

PBK: Employee volunteerism and supporting our local communities will always be central to our culture as a company, which is especially relevant as the world unites to address the spread of COVID-19. It is also why, in the U.S., I encourage every eligible Astellas employee to take their paid volunteer time off days when it is safe and possible to do so. It is quite simply the Astellas way.