Booz Allen Hamilton Finds Inspiration in the Arts
Patrick O’Herron interviewing Dr. Ralph W. Shrader, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Booz Allen Hamilton.
1. Booz Allen Hamilton was a 2011 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America honoree. Why does the company choose to support the arts?
The arts inspire, provoke thought, spur creativity, and connect us in a shared experience. These are also the essential qualities of an enduring, successful business–therefore, both as an institution and as individual employees, we find a natural affinity for the arts at Booz Allen. Corporate support helps make exhibitions and performances possible, and we find this to be a good way to give back to the communities in which we work and live.
2. How has the company’s support of the arts advanced business objectives?
Externally, there is a positive brand affinity and visibility that comes from association with respected museums and arts organizations, as well as favorable recognition in the community for helping to make possible quality exhibitions and performances.
Internally, we’re able to offer employee benefits; such as Family Days at museum exhibitions, a lottery for free tickets to musical and dance performances, live lectures, and on-line communities devoted to the arts. Booz Allen has also created an innovative leadership development program for management-level employees in which they take on a significant volunteer project for a non-profit organization, such as developing a strategic plan for a museum or performing arts company. This win-win arrangement delivers tangible value to the arts organization as well as a professional development opportunity for our rising stars.
3. How are the arts a part of the company’s operating culture?
In 2007, we sponsored Edward Hopper, at the National Gallery of Art, which drew more than 360,000 people to see one of the largest ever retrospectives of the American realist’s work free of charge. This legacy continued in 2010, when Booz Allen sponsored the major exhibition Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In addition to these art exhibitions, we sponsored September 11: Remembrance and Reflection at the National Museum of American History in 2011 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of September 11. All of these exhibitions feature Family Day events for our employees, their families, and friends.
4. Through what methods does Booz Allen Hamilton support the arts?
Almost all of the above methods factor into our support of the arts, typically in combination. While our firm provides monetary contributions, we virtually never “just write a check”–we always pair financial support with the active involvement of our talented employees
5. Does Booz Allen Hamilton match gifts to the arts, or provide employee volunteer or pro bono opportunities?
Employees volunteer thousands of hours a year with arts organizations and Booz Allen also conducts pro-bono assignments, such as a recent strategy project we undertook for the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Booz Allen provides Volunteer Service Grants that recognize the volunteer efforts of individual employees at nonprofit organizations. These grants range in size from $250 to $750 depending on the employee’s level of activity, with board service recognized at a higher financial level.
6. Has the company’s arts support helped with employee recruitment or retention? Does the company employ the arts as a reward to employees?
Booz Allen’s recruiting department has hosted events for prospective employees at some of the exhibitions the firm sponsors. In addition, information about the firm’s support of arts and culture is featured prominently on Booz Allen’s website where potential recruits come to learn more about the company.
Current employees have actively participated in arts-related opportunities provided by the firm such as Family Days, on-site lectures, team-building tours of exhibitions, and more. Employees regularly cite these activities as a reason to be proud to work for the firm and a reflection of the firm’s interest in and caring of employees. We often hear that providing our employees the opportunity to volunteer and have access to the arts adds to the quality of their lives.
7. How does Booz Allen Hamilton incorporate the arts into relationships with clients?
Our headquarters is in suburban Washington D.C. and many clients are government agencies, so the fact that most museums in Washington are free makes it possible to have special tours and events tailored to government clients. For our commercial clients, we’re able to include meal receptions following curator tours or performances. For each art sponsorship, we negotiate with museums to provide us with regular slots for tours so that we can bring clients to show them how Booz Allen supports the arts, expose them to arts organizations with whom they might not have had much familiarity, and provide VIP access for clients to curators so that they can learn more about the content of the exhibition or project.More broadly, our client base responds and comments favorably on Booz Allen’s sponsorship and support of the visual and performing arts for the greater good of the community.
8. How does the company link its support of the arts with other community concerns i.e. social service issues, health and wellness, at-risk youth, economic development, veterans, etc.?
Booz Allen links its support of the arts to the issue of at-risk youth in our work with the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. More than 80,000 girls participate in this region and 30% of them are considered “at risk” due to socio-economic reasons. For two major art exhibitions Booz Allen has sponsored, we developed special patches the girls could earn through participation and learning, and we created similar programs tailored to the Boy Scouts.
Booz Allen partners with organizations like the Strathmore Hall Foundation and the Washington Performing Arts Society to provide students with access to the arts, including funding field trips to Strathmore Hall for all 2nd and 5th grade students in Montgomery County, Maryland. These field trips afford some of them their first visit to a performing arts venue and can perhaps inspire them in a lifelong appreciation of music.
For veterans, we’re a lead sponsor of the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s military programs, which include professional development workshops held in partnership with USO-Metro. These workshops are specifically geared toward Wounded Warriors and are designed to boost the confidence of veterans returning to the civilian workforce. The sponsorship also includes special programming at the theater for military families.