Community Impact in Seattle: Q&A with DocuSign CRO Loren Alhadeff
DocuSign is a sponsor of this year’s (now virtual) Seattle Aquarium Splash!2020 Gala. In recognition of the importance of continuing to support our communities in whatever ways we can, I spoke with DocuSign Chief Revenue Officer Loren Alhadeff about the event, and his perspective on community involvement and giving back.
Amy Skeeters-Behrens: Since the first day I joined DocuSign, when you reached out to learn what my plans were for our IMPACT Foundation, you’ve been a huge supporter, and one of our leaders in the Seattle area. Let’s start with an upcoming event that you are involved with, which is the Seattle Aquarium’s annual Splash! Gala. Why did you get involved?
Loren Alhadeff: Thanks, Amy, for giving me a chance to share my perspectives on the importance of giving back to the community, especially in these very unprecedented and uncertain times. For me, the Seattle Aquarium, along with being a family favorite experience, does incredible work in providing hands-on marine experiences and conservation education about the Puget Sound and our ocean environments more broadly.
And as the father of three young children, I value the role the Seattle Aquarium plays in ensuring our kids are educated about the natural world and what we can do to improve life for all species. It’s also one of the coolest places to visit in town.
ASB: I know conservation is one of your passions, and before I ask you more on that, I want to let anyone who is interested in supporting the Seattle Aquarium know that you can visit here to support their annual fundraising gala. Organizations like the Aquarium depend on these annual drives to attract funding and new supporters.
Rewinding the clock a few years to when we started working together... Within months, we held one of our largest single community support events with over 300 members of your sales team volunteering with Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. What is it about DocuSign IMPACT that has resonated so strongly for you?
LA: One of the things that attracted me to DocuSign early on was the idea that this is a company that can have a really significant impact on our world - not just simplifying how companies do business, but what it looks like to eliminate the need for paper for millions of agreements signed daily. So far, that impact has been tremendous. To put it into perspective, the 20 billion sheets of paper Docusign and its customers have saved is just one tangible measure. Over 2.5 million trees have also been saved, as well as over 2.5 billion gallons of water needed to make that much paper, plus over 140 million pounds of waste. Our planet was spared over 2 billion pounds of additional CO₂ because that paper wasn’t made. It’s pretty amazing to think about, the number of trees spared alone is the equivalent of nearly 150 Central Parks - just try to picture that.
As you know, it was seeing that quantifiable measure of our impact that last year led to the creation of the DocuSign for Forests initiative. This is a tangible way we can connect our business goals to energy and financial support for organizations fighting for the world’s forests, like the Jane Goodall Legacy Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Rainforest Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Trees for Cities, and Friends of the Urban Forest.
ASB: When you play the highlights reel of your involvement with DocuSign IMPACT, what stands out?
LA: The first highlight is hearing over the years from new employees who are introduced to the DocuSign IMPACT program during our new hire orientation program. I regularly get dozens of emails, texts, Slack messages, from people saying how much participating in a community event during their first weeks at DocuSign says a lot about who we are as a company and what we value. It makes them feel connected to the organization, and like they made the right choice in joining DocuSign. As a sales leader, that’s pretty powerful.
As you mentioned earlier, volunteering with several hundred DocuSign colleagues with Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust was definitely a highlight for a couple of reasons. The green space around Seattle is one of the things that makes the city so special, and it was a great experience to be outside with hundreds of colleagues working together to make our surroundings more accessible for outdoor activities by everyone in the community.
Another great memory was when Cliff Avril of the Seattle Seahawks joined me as part of our annual Global IMPACT Day to inspire participation and provide us an opportunity to support the incredible work he and his family foundation do across the globe. It doesn’t take a celebrity to motivate our teams - our Seattle office has always showed up big for this day of volunteering - but Cliff’s involvement was a great way to say thank you to our teams for the work they are doing, and supporting his charitable organization.
One other effort that sticks out for me was the tremendous number of teammates who showed up to build houses for Habitat for Humanity in 2018. I think again, the thing that strikes me the most is how many people choose to get involved and how many different projects our employees select to support. Most of us in sales go into it because we like connecting with other people - so I’m always excited to see everyone turn out for these types of activities.
ASB: We talked about how conservation and environmental causes are personally important to you. But I know you have a few other passions as well.
LA: Definitely human services organizations are incredibly important to our communities, and to me individually because of the impact they can have on each individual they connect with.
The Special Olympics Washington chapter has been an organization I’ve supported for a number of years. It was really exciting to engage as well with the national organization when the US Special Olympics Summer Games came to Seattle in 2018.
Another organization that my wife and I support is Mary’s Place in Seattle, which provides a safe, inclusive shelter and services for women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness - DocuSign has also contributed to this important organization with funding and volunteers.
Most recently, as a team we have been reflecting on the social unrest due to many of the inequities people across the United States, and in other parts of the world, experience, and as we looked as what as an organization we can do both from a support perspective, but also to provide more opportunities for under-represented communities to join DocuSign, I found a personal connection to the organization The Loveland Foundation. The foundation was established in 2018 by Rachel Cargle in response to her widely successful birthday wish fundraiser, Therapy for Black Women and Girls. Her enthusiastic social media community raised over $250,000, which made it possible for Black women and girls nationally to receive therapy support. Now that support has been turned into an ongoing effort. As challenging as this reflection can be, it reminded me again of what an incredible company we have.
Lastly, while I appreciate the opportunity to talk a little about my passion for getting involved, I’m just endlessly impressed with the culture we have at DocuSign and that doesn’t come from the top, although it is tied deeply to our values as a company, but it’s reflected by the incredible commitment of so many of our employees wherever around the world they live. For example, over the past few months while working remotely, our employees have rallied to:
- Raise over $1.5M with donations from 830 employees to support social justice programs
- Support COVID-relief programs through multiple channels, and including the DocuSign Ultrathon which was actually created by one of my sales leaders, Alpesh Patel, and which saw over 800 employees, friends and family come together to raise $300k for local nonprofits supporting those in need
- Respond to the devastating fires in Australia, and now on the West Coast of the US
With everything going on, our people continue to focus on how they can help. We have seen so many employee driven efforts in so many areas. As a leader, that makes me incredibly proud.
ASB: Obviously we are in a pretty uniquely challenging time. I want to end with this question - what is your personal view on why is it important to support nonprofits now?
LA: From my perspective, for those in a position to do so, it’s so incredibly important to continue supporting nonprofits right now because, like other businesses, their revenue streams have been significantly disrupted by COVID-19, and its impacts. Additionally, the ability of nonprofits to rely on volunteers to provide critical capacity is diminished, while the needs they are addressing - not just COVID related - hunger, wildfire, homelessness, pollution, climate change - are not going away. At DocuSign, we want to bring all of our resources - our people, our products and our giving philosophy - to bear in making a difference today and beyond.