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Celebrating 20 Years Of Service Around The World

Twenty years ago, Timberland created our Path of Service program—a monumental moment that marked the beginning of a rich tradition of service. When the Path of Service program debuted on September 18, 1992, it offered employees up to 16 hours of paid time each year to engage in community service—an unconventional idea at the time. In 1995, the number of paid hours available to employees was raised to 40 hours a year, and by the late 1990s, the company formalized two annual service events designed to make it easy for employees to serve.

In 1997, the company began organizing an annual day of service around Earth Day, in recognition of Timberland as an outdoor brand. The following year, we started a tradition called Serv-a-palooza, Timberland’s own annual celebration of community service.

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary, we put our values into action at events around the world, thanks to our team of Global Stewards—passionate employees who volunteer above and beyond their regular job responsibilities to serve as ambassadors of corporate social responsibility. Here are some of the highlights that span the globe:

China: Global Steward Vincent He organized a team that painted a wall in a primary school classroom, while another team treated 60 kindergarteners to an outing in a local park. Many of the children had never been to a park before.

Italy: Global Steward Francesca Vitale organized a two-day service trip for three teams of employees to Cinque Terre on Palmaria Island. Each team worked on different projects, including cleaning beaches, renovating benches along the paths, and repainting an old military fortress.

Japan: Global Steward Shiho Hirasawa’s team spread its celebration across the year, arranging monthly service events from May through November.

Spain: Global Steward Lorena Ibáñez and her teams provided gardening services at a retirement home and prepared a special lunch for students at a sailing school for the disabled.

Taiwan: With the support of Global Steward Marty Shen, Taiwan launched a program that rewards consumers for engaging with Timberland in service—a concept that’s spread to other Timberland locations around the world.

USA: Near our Stratham, New Hampshire global headquarters, community engagement manager Brianne Wood coordinated more than 350 volunteers in this year’s Serv-a-Palooza in three locations. The team helped 25 non-profit organizations by constructing outdoor furniture, creating and restoring over three miles of trails, and knitting winter hats and mittens.

But it doesn’t end with our employees. Our service events have now grown to include Timberland vendors, distributors, supplier factories, consumers, community members, and friends and family. Organizations as diverse as the Hong Chi School in Hong Kong, which serves those with intellectual disabilities; Legambiente, an Italian environmental organization; and the Seacoast Science Center of Rye, New Hampshire, an educational facility near Timberland’s headquarters, all join us in the effort to make a difference in the world.

We are also fortunate that our new parent company, VF Corporation, supports Timberland’s values-driven brand and mission to equip people to make a difference in the communities where they live and work. We look forward to partnering with VF’s Outdoor & Action Sports Coalition to grow our commitment to service beyond our own corporate walls.

As Atlanta McIlwraith, senior manager of community engagement for Timberland, puts it, “What’s so powerful about our service program is the many ripples it creates. As we send people to service sites, their direct impact ripples out to other organizations and the people they serve. Our belief is that when each employee has a service experience, it helps them become more engaged in their own community and on their own time. We hope this year’s 20th anniversary has re-energized our army of service warriors to continue to grow Timberland’s level of service.”


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Timberland Invites You to Join Serv-a-palooza

Timberland Invites You to Join Serv-a-palooza

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Path of Service™ program, Timberland® stores worldwide invite you to become part of a global community service effort. Join us to leave your footprint in your own community!

Timberland’s Path of Service™ program gives employees paid time off to serve in their communities, and every year we hold an annual celebration of community service called “Serv-a-palooza” to make it easy for employees to engage. Every fall since 1997, Timberland employees across the globe pull on their boots and put their values in action by engaging in local service through this marquee event.

While consumers have been welcome to pitch in on Serv-a-palooza activities in the past, there hasn’t been an organized recruitment effort—until now. Cindy Fotheringham-Pfeiffer, Timberland’s Global Steward for US Retail, explains that this year, we’re looking to involve consumers more deliberately in Serv-a-palooza as part of the Path of Service™ anniversary celebration. “We would love to involve consumers beyond just telling them about these events, so that they can actually share in giving back to the places where we live and work.”

And we’re hoping to engage consumers on a global scale. As part of Timberland’s 20th Anniversary celebration, we’re inviting consumers in other countries to join us in service– see here for information about how Timberland Taiwan is engaging consumers throughout the year.

Back in the U.S., a myriad of events are planned for September 9-20– and YOU are encouraged to participate! Timberland® retail stores are partnering with the SPCA, the Humane Society, local food banks, and community centers in the Northeast. On the west coast, you might serve at the Wildlife Education Rehabilitation Center, the Police Activity League, or Habitat for Humanity, among others. Perhaps you’ll help out at the San Marcos Housing Activity in Texas or the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. And many other events are planned nationwide.

Just what activities will service events with these organizations entail? You might help with a plant sale or a charity golf event, refurbish homes for the elderly, beautify parks and playgrounds, paint schools, and more.

“Service is built into Timberland’s core values and the heritage of the company, so we give back to the community any way we possibly can. We are excited for consumers to join us!”

To find the U.S. retail store nearest you and learn how you can join their Serv-a-palooza service events, click here. For global Serv-a-palooza activites, check your country specific Timberland website.


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The Power of Service Inspires Taiwan

2012 marks the 20th anniversary of Timberland’s Path of Service™ program, which gives employees 40 hours of paid time off to serve in their communities. This milestone provides an opportunity to recognize the importance of service to our corporate culture, honor our heritage, and look for ways to deepen our commitment to service. One way we are doing that is by expanding that commitment beyond our employee base—encouraging consumers to join us in serving in their communities.

Under the leadership of Olga Wu, General Manager in Asia, Timberland Taiwan is leading the way to illustrate the value of service. We have 131 stores in Taiwan, 77 of which were opened by our wholesale partners, as well as an administrative office staff of 25 people.

Timberland Taiwan kicked off efforts to involve consumers in service on December 31, 2011, with an island-wide bike-a-thon celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China. As an event sponsor, Timberland hosted a service event at a local park. More than 200 people signed up—over half of whom were consumers.

At that event, Wu announced that the Taiwan office would celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Path of Service™ program by setting a goal of 10,000 service hours in 2012. To help meet this goal, Timberland Taiwan enticed our most engaged consumers with special privileges: consumers who spend 7,000 Taiwan New Dollars (about $237 USD) become Club Members and those who spend 10,000 Taiwan New Dollars (about $338 USD) or more become VIPs. Both groups are able to participate in Timberland-sponsored service events throughout the year.

Consumers who take up the challenge will be thanked for their efforts. People who serve 24 hours throughout the year at Timberland events will receive a free Timberland® T-shirt, while those who serve 40 hours will receive a free pair of Earthkeepers® boots and a Timberland CSR teddy bear.

To promote service opportunities, Timberland Taiwan relies primarily on in-store posters and postcards, as well as announcements on the website and on Facebook. Their Facebook page is especially helpful in getting consumers to interact with each other, sharing their photos and experiences.

According to Marty Shen, executive secretary for the Taiwan office and a Global Steward, the service-hour goal is well on its way to being met, with some 3,000 service hours accrued in early 2012.

The first of five major service events planned for Club member and VIP consumers occurred in March, when a team gathered to help clean and protect Taiwan’s eroding seashore. Timberland employee and consumer volunteers built a fence to help slow the loss of sand, and categorized and recorded waste collected. “We could see that waste came from Korea, Japan, even the Philippines,” marvels Shen. “Some of our club members didn’t realize that waste could create so much damage to the sea.”

The next consumer-oriented service event took place in May, when a Taiwan service team ventured into the mountains to help beautify a national park and eradicate non-indigenous plants and marine life that are creating an ecological imbalance in local ponds. “This is a new, inspiring experience for our Club members,” says Shen

Atlanta McIlwraith, Timberland’s senior manager of community engagement, reveals that the company hopes to take what Timberland Taiwan started and expand it to a more global scale. Hong Kong is already planning a similar program, and McIlwraith is working with the global marketing team to create a toolkit to promote the Timberland’s 20th anniversary of service in stores this fall.

“We want to engage consumers throughout the year, and a strong in-store presence in September will reinforce our 20th anniversary celebration,” McIlwraith says. “Going forward, we aim to share Timberland’s passion for service, while making it easy and fun for consumers to engage with our brand all around the world.”


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20 Years of Positive Change

20th Anniversary of Timberland's Path of Service™ program.
2012 marks the 20th anniversary of Timberland’s Path of Service™ program, which gives employees paid time off to serve in their communities. What’s in store for Timberland this year? Tens of thousands of hours spent giving back to our communities, invitations to consumers and business partners to join us in service, and celebrations of our community service impacts. In other words, business as usual.

As we look ahead to how we’ll continue to make a difference, we’re also taking time to reflect on the journey that brought the Path of Service™ program into its current form. Twenty years ago, the idea of giving employees paid time off to perform community service was unconventional. For many executives, giving back to the community signifies corporate philanthropy. For Timberland, it means sharing our most valuable resource—our employees’ time—to engage and improve communities by building trails, planting trees, creating community gardens and transforming playgrounds.

The inception of service as a core business value began with an introduction from City Year—an education-focused nonprofit that unites young people for a year of full-time service. In 1989, City Year Co-Founders Alan Khazei and Michael Brown approached Timberland with a request for fifty pairs of boots. We granted the request, but Khazei and Brown weren’t finished with us. They invited Timberland to learn more through service and planned Timberland’s first corporate service day. Jeff Swartz, Timberland’s former CEO, was inspired. Never one to back down from a challenge, Swartz introduced the benefit of 16 paid community service hours per year for all employees.

Jackie Mitchell of Timberland’s Human Resources department was there when the idea blossomed and remembers it well: “Jeff, perched high on a fork lift, shared his passion, vision, and dreams for employees to serve in their community and ‘how the private sector can and must be a partner with the public sector to ensure the health of our community.’” On September 18, 1992, our Path of Service™ program was officially born. According to Mitchell, the idea “became a reality when Jeff and a group of employees left work and joined City Year to paint a youth home called Odyssey House in Hampton, New Hampshire.”

Timberland’s community service program has grown from offering up to 16 paid community service hours in 1992, to up to 40 paid hours in 1995—which continues today. Now, Timberland organizes two annual global service events—Earth Day and Serv-a-palooza—to provide company-sponsored opportunities for employees use their hours. Employees are also invited to serve independently or in small groups at projects of their choosing. Additionally, Timberland sponsors a service sabbatical program that grants employees up to six months of paid leave to provide transformational capacity building service to nonprofit organizations.

But it doesn’t end with us. Our service has grown beyond our corporate walls, and our projects now include Timberland vendors, distributors, supplier factories, consumers, community members, and friends and family. As of 2012, Timberland has performed more than 800,000 hours of service around the world. “We’re a relatively small company with a big impact,” notes Atlanta McIlwraith, Timberland’s senior manager of community engagement. “Last year, 40 percent of the volunteers at Timberland-sponsored service events worldwide were business partners, and we hope to increase that percentage in 2012.”

To celebrate the program’s 20th anniversary, we’re gearing up for a special celebration at our fall Serv-a-palooza event, and our Global Stewards are helping us maximize engagement around the globe. For example, our Taiwan and Hong Kong offices are inviting consumers to serve at various Timberland-sponsored service events throughout the year. Consumers in Taiwan who serve 24 hours at Timberland events in 2012 will receive a free Timberland® T-shirt, and those who serve 40 hours will get a free pair of Earthkeepers® boots.

What’s more is that VF, Timberland’s new parent company, stands behind our commitment to service. According to Patty Pierce, Vice President of Human Resources for VF’s Outdoor Coalition (of which Timberland is a part), “VF recognizes that service is a critical element of Timberland’s culture. We joined Timberland in service at last year’s Serv-a-palooza and saw the benefits service brings to the work environment, the community, and to the business. We were inspired and decided to expand our own service commitment. VF’s Outdoor Coalition and VF’s Action Sports Coalition are excited to expand their community service and will now join Timberland in having two Coalition-wide service days each year, Earth Day in April and a second day in September.”

As we reflect on what we’ve accomplished in 20 years, we’re proud to say we’re just getting started. We’re excited that more consumers and partners than ever before will be joining us this year in creating positive change around the world.


-- Download 20 Years of Positive Change as PDF --


A New Generation of Service

A New Generation of Service

Ever since Timberland was founded in 1973, giving back to the communities we inhabit has been a huge part of who we are. Our Path of Service™ program offers full-time employees up to 40 hours of paid time a year to serve their local communities, and we organize two annual global service events, Earth Day in the spring and Serv-a-palooza in autumn, to help employees use their hours.

While Earth Day marks an important opportunity to improve the great outdoors that is the core of Timberland’s business, Serv-a-palooza is an even more meaningful service event for the company. It is a time when all Timberland employees around the world put the company’s values in action by dedicating a day to serving their local communities.

“Serv-a-palooza is unique to Timberland,” explains Atlanta McIlwraith, Timberland’s Senior Manager of Community Engagement. “Fall is an important season for our business, and Serv-a-palooza lets us take a day at this time of year to celebrate our heritage and become grounded as a community.” The event allows employees who might not otherwise ever get to know each other work side by side. “On that day, it doesn’t matter what your title is—everyone’s the same,” she says. “When you’re volunteering together on site, it breaks down boundaries and builds a community. It’s a real source of pride to employees and something everyone enjoys.”

What made this year’s event especially poignant is that it marked a turning point in the history of Timberland. In June 2011, the acquisition of Timberland by VF Corporation was announced, signaling the end of three generations of family leadership.

Historically, Timberland’s evolution has been framed by the theme of “Boot, Brand, Belief.” “Boot” is represented by founder Nathan Swartz, who created the company’s iconic waterproof leather boot. His son Sidney Swartz built the Timberland “Brand,” expanding the company internationally and adding product lines such as apparel, women’s and children’s footwear, and accessories such as backpacks and watches. And it was Sidney’s son Jeffrey Swartz who formalized the company’s “Belief” in social justice, environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

In celebration of these three “B”s, the activities at this year’s Serv-a-palooza event at corporate headquarters in Stratham, New Hampshire, were organized around this theme:

BOOT: Touched by the suffering of families in Joplin, Missouri, which was devastated by tornados, volunteers framed four houses for Habitat for Humanity in Timberland’s front parking lot—two for families from Joplin and two for families in need in Kansas City.

BRAND: Volunteers participated in projects designed to make a meaningful contribution to the town of Newmarket, New Hampshire—the birthplace of the Timberland brand. These included creating a new outdoor community gathering and performance space, building an outdoor classroom at a local elementary school and improving the high school grounds, enhancing local little league fields and refurbishing historic local buildings.

BELIEF: Several activities embodied belief including greening the campus of a community center for local nonprofits, transforming the meeting space for local disabled veterans, preparing forest trails for the harsh New England winter, and knitting blankets for the families for whom the Habitat for Humanity homes were being framed.

In all, 566 volunteers participated in the September 7-8, 2011, event in Stratham, of whom 427 were Timberland employees (the remainder were family, business associates, and friends). These figures included many leaders of VF Corporation—a key milestone as Timberland begins to integrate into the VF Family of brands.

“Their involvement was important as we’re transitioning,” says McIlwraith. “People were wondering ‘what now’? To have VF and some of their outdoor brands participate in our annual day of service symbolized their commitment to understanding and experiencing something that is uniquely Timberland.”

It was important to the VF team, as well. A couple of weeks before the event, VF announced that the Path of Service™ program would remain intact after the transition. Steve Rendle, vice president of VF Corporation and group president for the company’s Outdoor & Action Sports coalition, was so inspired by the experience, he announced to Timberland employees at the end of the day that VF outdoor brands would participate with Timberland in serving in their communities for Earth Day 2012.

“The crowd went wild, and when he tried to quiet them down, the reaction grew louder,” McIlwraith reports. “It was a very powerful moment and reminder of the power of service. We’re thrilled to have the support of our new owners.”


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Equipping Stewards for Global Engagement

Equipping Stewards for Global Engagement

As a company dedicated to living our values every day, Timberland carries our commitment to serve the communities in which employees live and work around the world. Our Global Stewards play a critical role ensuring we meet this goal.

Global Stewards are Timberland employees who volunteer above and beyond their regular job responsibilities to extend the reach and impact of Timberland’s Corporate Social Responsibility team. Stewards serve as CSR ambassadors and drive community service in their locations as well as communicate key messages to employees in their locations.

In all, Timberland has identified 27 Global Stewards—one in each office around the world. Every year, the Stewards are brought together for an annual meeting to enrich their understanding of Timberland’s approach to commerce and justice, share best practices and provide tools to increase effectiveness and success. The meeting always includes a half-day community service event to put Stewards learnings into practice and to build the team through shared service.

This year, Timberland hosted the annual Stewards meeting in Stratham, NH and invited the team to participate in a special Serv-a-palooza celebration that would honor Timberland’s heritage and commitment to service before the company was acquired by the VF Corporation. VF’s involvement in Serv-a-palooza is a story unto itself – click here.

An event that is unique to Timberland, Serv-a-palooza is a full-day service extravaganza held every autumn, in which the entire company engages in serving local communities. “For most of the Stewards, service events involve 30 or 40 people, so it’s not the same as this year’s activities at our global headquarters, which involved 600 people,” explains Atlanta McIlwraith, Timberland’s Senior Manager of Community Engagement. While there were several different service projects going on at once at this year’s Serv-a-palooza, all the Stewards served as a group at the McConnell Center in Dover, New Hampshire. They, along with many other Timberland colleagues, landscaped a grassy area in front of this non-profit, turning it into a welcoming campus that can be enjoyed by the entire local community.

Our Global Steward in Shanghai, Lucia Feng, agrees with the power of participating in a large scale event. “We can learn from participating Stratham’s Serv-a-palooza. The enthusiasm the whole company embodied was something I’d never seen before.” Lorena Ibanez, Timberland’s Global Steward for Spain and Portugal adds, “Now I can say I feel equipped to come back home and be able to deliver this energy to our countries.”

In a survey of the Stewards after this year’s event, McIlwraith asked whether they would prefer to continue engaging in Serv-a-palooza, which takes more time out of their training, or go back to the typical half-day of service. The majority voted to continue to incorporate Serv-a-palooza. “I learned a lot,” says Nicole Snijders, Global Steward at our Enschede, Holland distribution center. “The annual Global Stewards training, as well as Town Hall Stratham, really inspired me to go further with the CSR program.”

While this year’s Serv-a-palooza was especially significant for the company, another important anniversary is looming. 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of Timberland’s Path of Service™ program, in which full-time employees receive up to 40 hours of paid time a year to engage in community service. “We’re going to have special activities going on around the world, and the Stewards are going to be very important in implementing them,” reports McIlwraith. “More than ever, service is going to be led by our Global Stewards. We want every employee to get out and engage in service to their own community.”

It is a sentiment that is shared by the Stewards themselves. “Although we have different languages and customs, we are one team around the world as Global Stewards,” says Eddy Alvarez, one of Timberland’s Stewards in the Dominican Republic. Adds Ibanez, “It is always great to meet with people from around the globe with different cultures, because once you go deeper, you can see we are not as different as it seems at first sight. We fight for the same values, with the same passion and commitment, trying to make the difference in our communities.”


-- Download Equipping Stewards for Global Engagement as PDF --


Living Our Values

At Timberland, service is a way of life. A belief in the power of people to transform their communities is one of our core values.

We live this value by offering our thousands of creative, dedicated, hardworking employees a number of ways to become involved, including these core programs:

  • Path of Service: This employee volunteer program gives full-time staff an annual benefit of (up to) 40 paid hours and part-time staff an annual benefit of (up to) 20 paid hours for community service.
  • Pillar service events: To help employees use their service hours, every year, Timberland organizes global days of service to celebrate Earth Day in April and our annual “Serv-a-palooza” event in the Fall.

Earth Day 2011 - A Timberland Earthkeepers® Initiative
Serv-a-palooza 2011 - A Timberland Earthkeepers® Initiative

Through these programs and other community service projects, Timberland partners not only with employees, but also with business partners, stakeholders, consumers, and communities to make a difference in local communities around the globe.


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