Sony Electronics, Inc., headquartered in Rancho Bernardo, was named “Business of the Year” for large companies by the North San Diego Business Chamber.
The award was among 10 presented on June 23 to businesses and individuals during the chamber’s annual “Celebration of Business” to recognize their leadership.
Sony was selected for its workplace practices, including its Best Place to Work Employee Network designed to enhance employee experiences to attract, motivate and retain quality talent, according to its nomination.
The network has four tracks to support the overall employee experience pertaining to childcare/eldercare, work-life balance, survey analysis workplace excellence awards and life hacks/site ambassadors. The latter promote work-life balance initiatives.
One of the components of the initiative is the Fridays Program. Sony closes its offices at 3 p.m. on Fridays and in the summer extends that to 1 p.m. Employees also get one free Friday per month for better work-life balance. This applies to not only Sony’s Rancho Bernardo employees but to the more than 1,300 company-wide throughout the United States and Canada.
Another offering is Sony’s new Dollars for Doers to support employees who give back to nonprofits. This comes in two forms — financial support and time.
According to its nomination, employees can have up to $2,000 of their charitable contributions to qualified nonprofits matched by Sony each year. For those who donate with their time, Sony also gives a $10 per volunteer hour donation that the employee can give to that cause or another.
Employees also are given 16 hours of paid personal time off each year earmarked for community volunteerism.
“I’ve been at Sony for more than 20 years and there has been a constant stream of innovations to the employee experience,” said Rosemary Flynn, Sony Electronics’ head of corporate social responsibility and corporate communications. “It is part of our culture to make Sony the best place to work and that starts by listening to our employees.”
According to Flynn, in recent years Sony tripled its number of employee networks groups. It also launched the online employee giving program and focused in on work-life balance.
“Many of these are employee-led initiatives that are supported by our top leaders and really improve the employee experience,” Flynn said. “I like being part of this extremely diverse organization that ‘walks the walk’ when it comes to putting employees’ well-being first.”
The Rancho Bernardo-based chamber received 48 nominations for businesses and individuals to be honored during its event at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park that drew a crowd of over 200 attendees.
“(It was a) fabulous evening celebrating leadership among individuals and companies in San Diego,” said Debra Rosen, the chamber’s president and CEO. “The venue, San Diego Air and Space, was a perfect setting with ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ soundtrack to celebrate all of these achievements.”
The 2022 Leadership Awards honor individuals, businesses and organizations that demonstrate achievement in management, workplace excellence and social responsibility, with a commitment to San Diego, according to chamber officials.
In addition to Sony Electronics, two other companies received the “Business of the Year” award. It was also presented to Bytes, Inc. in the small business category and to the Gary and Mary West Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) in the medium business division.
Bytes, Inc. was nominated for its ability to maintain strong relations with its clients and strategic partners during the pandemic, the way it pivoted to remoter operations during COVID and helped other businesses operate virtually. In addition, it was recognized for encouraging its employees to be philanthropists and volunteer with various local organizations. It was also praised for its efforts to provide work opportunities to physically challenged individuals.
The Gary and Mary West Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) nearly doubled its participant case load in 2021, according to its nomination. To meet all their needs, its added 25 new employee positions and increased other operational infrastructure, such as vehicles in its transportation fleet to get seniors to their medical appointment and other destinations.
Among other new programs it introduced last year was an “Adopt-A-Senior” program that gave community members an opportunity to help through online donations to seniors’ wish lists and add to supplement holiday bundles with everyday necessities to bring extra holiday cheer to North County seniors with chronic illnesses.
“Business Leader of the Year” honors went to Dr. Ross Colt, medical director at the Gary and Mary West PACE; Chris Thorne, president of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s San Diego Chapter; and Siddhartha Vivek, president and CEO at Junior Achievement of San Diego County.
Colt deserved the honor for his efforts to manage the complex medical needs of a vulnerable community of North County seniors who were part of the All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly program during the pandemic, according to his nomination. He was recognized for going “above and beyond” with innovating thinking to establish remote medical services whenever possible to ensure the program participants’ health and safety.
Thorne’s nomination said, “Chris’ tireless pursuit of driving the goals of the Gary Sinise Foundation should be commended as he drives thanking, helping and saving the military and first responders in our community who have all given so much.”
Vivek was referred to as a “servant leader” in his nomination, someone who “consistently empowers his team to dream bigger, encourages diversity of thought and truly lives out the open-door policy.” He was also credited with transforming the focus, impact, financials and culture of JA San Diego.
The “Emerging Leader of the Year” award was presented to Alanna Markey, vice president and general manager of the InnoVision Marketing Group.
According to her nomination, Markey began with the company as an intern in 2013 and “has quickly risen over the years as a leader in InnoVision, and someone everyone can turn to for anything they might need.”
The “Military Supporter of the Year” award was given to Armed Services YMCA San Diego, which was recognized for its support of over 9,000 wounded, ill or injured service members. The organization also made sure 44,757 military families received fresh food and produce at semi-monthly food distributions, according to its nomination.
In the last year it also provided food to a hospital labor and delivery ward. It gave clothing and emergency commissary cards to military personnel on travel and in need of support. It also purchased 210 worth of bus passes for Naval Medical Center personnel in one-car families so they could access needed care.
The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank was named “Nonprofit of the Year.”
Including its North County chapter, the food bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in the county. According to its nomination, it distributed 60 million pounds of food and serves, on average, 500,000 people per month. During the pandemic’s peak, it was helping 600,000 people each month. Its mission is “to provide nutritious food to people in need, advocate for the hungry and educate the public about hunger-related issues.”
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority received the “Think Local First Business of the Year” honor.
It was nominated for its work “to ensure that local and small companies ... have every opportunity to do business with the airport.” In addition, its staff’s work during 2021 to promote the Local Business Enterprise certification program grew it from 28 LBE certified vendors to 297.