Delta CEO explains why paying employees to volunteer in the community is good for business

Delta CEO Ed Bastian

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian.

  • Delta Air Lines will provide financial compensation to employees who volunteer in their communities.
  • Beginning April 1, airline employees will be paid for volunteer work with any 501(c)(3) or international nonprofit organization of their choosing.
  • The volunteer program is expected to fund 460,000 service hours in 13,000 communities around the world.

Delta Air Lines employees will be paid to volunteer in their communities. The Atlanta-based carrier announced on Thursday that its 80,000 global employees will receive financial compensation when they volunteer with any 501(c)(3) or international nonprofit organization.

In an industry where costs are meticulously tracked, why would an airline pay employees to do work for someone else?Advertisement

According to Delta CEO Ed Bastian, it's an investment in corporate culture that will be well worth the cost.

"It's going to cost us money but I think it's going to have a much greater impact in value for the organization because it allows people to think bigger than themselves and to understand our broader mission," Bastian said in an interview with Business Insider.

Read more: We flew on the new Delta Airbus jet, which Boeing tried to keep out of the US, to see if it lives up to the hype. Here's the verdict.

For Bastian, writing a check is the easy route, but giving back to the community is much more meaningful when there's human interaction.

It's service that will help mold the culture of the airline and ultimately help sustain the company's financial success. "We want our employees involved in the community because we think it creates a more inclusive organization in terms of style and approach, but also an organization that understands the world we live in," Bastian said. "We are a part of a bigger ecosystem and to have impact and to have pride in the brand extends far beyond just the service of providing air travel."Advertisement

"We know that our customers want to do business with brands and companies that are good corporate citizens and share their values," he added. "It's not just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do."

Ed Bastian delta CEO


The volunteer program, which will commence on April 1, is expected to pay for up to 640,000 service hours in 13,000 communities around the world.

Delta also announced on Thursday that its employees will get $1.3 billion in profit sharing for their work in 2018. According to the airline, each eligible employee will receive a bonus equivalent to 14% of their annual salary. Over the past five years, Delta has paid out more than $6 billion in employee profit sharing. Advertisement

In January, Delta reported $5.2 billion in pretax income for 2018 on $44 billion in revenues.