Whether working with local charities, helping those from disadvantaged backgrounds, or keeping a strong focus on the environment, the organisations that won this year’s ‘Giving Something Back’ Special Award demonstrated the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility whilst going above and beyond to ensure the best for their communities.
“More than just a vehicle to make money”
Inspired by the charitable grassroots work of global ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s, CEO of DTSquared and winner of the Award in the ‘small’ category, Toby Pearson, and Co-Founder and Director, John Taylor, always knew they wanted their company to be “more than just a vehicle to make money”, adding “we wanted to leave a positive impression where we operated.”
In 2019, the company joined forces with Splash Projects – connecting organisations looking for a team building project with a local cause in need of funding and labour – to help transform an under-developed playground into a fun and safe space for children to play.
Eager to continue their efforts in 2020, Pearson explained: “We identified a school where the playground was not only under-developed, but it had also been condemned so the children weren't allowed out of the building at lunchtimes and breaks. These were children who were also living in high rise buildings, so they had no outside space anyway and we felt quite strongly that, above all, this was criminal.”
Aware of the effects of the pandemic, the pair were conscious of not making their people feel obliged to give their time or put themselves in a situation they would not feel comfortable. But when asked, they found a team of 30 employees rearing to go and so DTSquared’s employees picked-up their tool belts once again and began work on the project.
Aside from this specific project, the organisation has continued to give back in other areas, namely successfully raising money for Action for Children – a charity helping vulnerable children and young people in the UK. It used its Christmas party in 2020 as a way to raise even more money and engage its workforce at the same time.
“We couldn't get together in true style and have a few drinks and enjoy ourselves.So instead, we ran an online quiz/competition for employees, whereby winning you won prizes for people who were struggling due to the circumstances brought on by the global pandemic,” said Pearson.
The right thing to do
For La Fosse CEO, James Parker, and winner of the Award in the ‘mid-sized’ category, supporting charity is also close to heart. “Working with charities and supporting others feels like the right thing to do for all sorts of reasons, but also good for business – not least because of staff engagement,” he said.
As a recruitment company, La Fosse aims to connect its people with the idea that a job, training and getting into work is a significant undertaking for so many underprivileged people, so playing their part in supporting initiatives that help them to improve their prospects, get the skills that make them employable or provide training is a very important way of helping employees to understand the importance of what they do, whilst connecting them even more to their roles.
With this in mind, the organisation focuses on helping its four principle charities – MOET, Bookmark, Beam and SocialBox.Biz.
For twelve years, La Fosse has dedicated a substantial portion of its profits to Mangochi Orphan Education and Training (MOET) – a charity dedicated to shaping the future of orphans and vulnerable children in the Mangochi District of Malawi. Many of the company’s employees also contribute a percentage of their salary to MOET, as well as donating their time to reading assistance for underprivileged children through the charity, Bookmark.
The organisation also makes regular contributions to homeless charity Beam, helping crowdfund new learning and careers opportunities for homeless men and women across the UK. “Employees can split their donation across all beam campaigns or give their donation to those stories they feel most connected to,” explained Parker.
Last, but by no means least, La Fosse donates old laptops to Community Interest Company SocialBox.Biz, who then provide social and digital inclusion to the homeless, refugees and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Helping those who need it most
Setting up a ‘Kindness Fund’ at the beginning of the pandemic, winners of the Award in the ‘large’ category, Cook Trading, teamed up with both their employees and customers to donate over 100,000 meals and treats to those who needed them most.
Speaking of the initiative, Co-Founder, Ed Perry, said: “There’s such a desire to be a good employer and to do the right thing. We live in this world where there is great inequality everywhere and it's vital that companies play their role in helping things in society. You can't just stand to one side, particularly during the pandemic, when there was all this need and difficulty everywhere.”
Following the success of the Kindness Fund, Perry vows to continue the initiative going post-pandemic, as well as continuing to tackle the environmental challenges placed on companies across the food industry.
Some 98% of Cook’s food trays are recycled, as well as being made up of 85% recycled plastic. The organisation also aims to be carbon zero by 2030, with Perry stating, “we cannot be in a position in 10 - 20 years' time where we are commercially and financially successful and yet we're belching out carbon all over the place – that is just not acceptable”.
The company also works hard to help those facing barriers to employment, by offering training and trial shifts to those battling addiction, mental health problems or having trouble finding work due to prior convictions, through its ‘Raw Talent’ scheme.
A Catalyst for Innovation
For the largest of the organisations amongst the winners of the Giving Something Back Special Award, BT Consumer, who won in the ‘big’ category, the commitment to help others whilst dealing with the pressure of keeping the country connected was a catalyst for innovation.
Working closely with the Department for Education, BTConsumer launched an initiative called ‘Lockdown Learning Kids’, which provided free, unlimited mobile data to disadvantaged families. The organisation then gave Wi-Fi Vouchers to those families in need, as well as offering special data ratings to two popular online learning portals, ensuring access to all online learning content for everyone across the UK.
If that wasn’t enough, the organisation then provided free data to staff across the NHS, as well as partnering up with the National Emergencies Trust to support its operational funding so that the charity could remain focused on helping people across the UK throughout the pandemic.
Speaking about the speed at which its teams turned these initiatives around, CEO, Marc Allera, said: “One of the great things is we’ve found ways to turn things round in days that would’ve taken months and years – it’s been a true catalyst for innovation, and it’s all been driven by our teams. They worked night and day to find ways to help families and children without internet and the NHS workers that we gave free data too."
“We've learnt a lot as a big company figuring out ways to be much more agile and turn things around and break processes to make things happen much faster.”
The full lists of winners across all list sizes and categories can be found here and full recordings of the day can be accessed here.
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