Since 2005, Americans for the Arts’ BCA 10 Awards has received nominations for over 400 businesses across the country that see the importance of cultivating the arts and culture sector for the betterment of their companies and the local community.
In the eyes of Badger Meter, a 2016 BCA 10: Best Business Partnering with the Arts in America honoree and leading global manufacturing and innovation company in the water utility metering market, innovation fostered through the arts was the key to their success.
This company gives credit to its achievements as an 100+ year old, multimillion dollar publicly-traded company to a culture of creativity and innovation.
Badger Meter sees the arts as crucial to employee recruitment and retention as well as cultivating talent locally and regionally. CEO Richard A. Meeusen’s speech at the October 5, 2016 BCA 10 gala at the Central Park Boathouse in New York City celebrated and acknowledged the arts as significant force in stimulating critical thinking and relevant work-place skills among staff.
This is why he advocates for STEAM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum that incorporates the arts):
“At Badger Meter, my best engineers are all musicians…My best sales people were on stage at one time. My best marketing people were involved in the visual arts. Those are skills you can’t just teach… somehow they were developed through their education.”
He also added that the arts are key to the future: “Twenty years from now I want my business to be successful, and I need the arts to continue to produce the highly creative individuals that we as a country have produced over the last 200 years. We need to make sure for the next 200 years, art programs are available to our youth.”
Badger Meter is certainly not alone in believing in the power of STEAM.
The chief information officer of Deloitte, one of the largest management consulting firms in America, recently argued in favor of STEAM in education. According to Larry Quinlan, "It's not enough to be technologically brilliant. We need senior people who understand business processes, too."
As the world becomes more technologically specialized, businesses seek hires that have excellent ‘people skills’ – individuals that know how to build consensus, manage relationships and read the room to manage teams through complex environments to creatively achieve organizational objectives.
The arts and social sciences are critical in fostering these abilities. That is why schools like Yale, Mount Holyoke, and Washington and Lee are using more of an integrated approach in teaching students about business, helping them learn soft skills that demonstrate how business is not isolated from the social underworkings of a community, but a part of a greater context.
The business world is seeking more well-rounded thinkers, doers, movers and shakers to meet their needs.
The market responses with pay demonstrates the value of being well-rounded in the workforce. According to Forbes, individuals with balanced strengths in both social and math skills actually command a salary premium, 10 percent more earnings than those who are strong in just one area or the other.
From the inception of Badger Meter over 100 years ago, all the way to the present day, the arts and creativity drive employee innovation, and innovation keeps businesses alive.
For more information on Badger Meter, the Milwaukee Wisconsin-based 2016 BCA 10: Best Business Partnering with the Arts in America honoree, please view its success story, “A Champion for Steam and Innovation,” on the pARTnership Movement Success Stories’ page.