CSR initiatives can be an important way for businesses to help the communities around them. Here, eight companies explain how they are continuing to give back during Covid-19.
Many companies look to give back to society through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, but how has Covid-19 and the recent shift to a remote-working world impacted this?
We asked eight different companies in our community that very question. They each highlighted some of their initiatives, from donations of equipment to virtual volunteering.
Accenture’s corporate citizenship lead in Ireland, Tara Vance, told us about the company’s pivot to virtual volunteering during Covid-19. She explained that whether it’s remote or in-person volunteering, the “same principles” apply.
In recent months, Accenture teams have done virtual volunteer work with Third Age, a national organisation providing older people with vital services such as confidential listening lines, and Inner City Enterprise, which helps unemployed people in Dublin set up their own businesses.
“We’ve also continued to arrange lots of volunteering opportunities that would have previously taken place in person,” Vance added. “Turning these into virtual opportunities so that our people can continue to volunteer and feel a personal impact has been really rewarding for us and our community partners over the last few months.”
Bristol Myers Squibb
At Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), working from home “has not dampened the energy and innovation of the CSR team”, according to CSR sponsor Ann-Marie Fanning. For the time being, all of the company’s initiatives in this area – fundraising for partner charities, focusing on sustainability and volunteering – are virtual. This allows those working from home and critical on-site staff at Cruiserath to participate.
For example, its sustainability education series is now delivered through virtual webinars, and a virtual 5km company run is planned for July with all donations going to St Francis Hospice and Jigsaw Dublin 15.
“During this time when many traditional fundraising events are getting cancelled, the BMS sports and social clubs teamed up with the CSR team to create some fun, but also an option to donate,” Fanning said. They put together a quiz, which 200 employees joined, and raised €3,000 for St Francis Hospice.
A challenge presented by remote working has been communicating with staff about CSR initiatives. To maintain employee awareness, Fanning said, the team has launched a new CSR newsletter to keep everyone up to date with fundraising, events that have taken place, upcoming events and “general good news”.
Citi focuses its CSR activities on areas such as inclusive communities, environmental finance, human rights, digital innovation, and talent and diversity.
The company’s chief country officer for Ireland and its European CEO, Cecilia Ronan, said that “making a positive impact is embedded” in Citi’s work.
“In Ireland, we made donations to the charity sector that is supporting Covid-19 relief efforts,” she said. “Our staff also generously donated personal funds to charities. Citi has matched their donations with two campaigns to double the funding and the impact.”
Dropbox’s head of social impact and governance affairs for the UK and Ireland, Charlene Brennan, explained that the company’s CSR initiatives have now pivoted online. These include “supporting school partnerships, virtual career mentorships, lending a supportive ear to those self-isolating, contributing to academic studies, giving opportunities and more”.
One focus for Dropbox in Dublin has been helping Barretstown deliver its children’s camp in a virtual setting. The programme, called Barretstown Live, allows children living with serious illnesses to access a streaming service and have activity packs delivered to their homes.
Barretstown Live has also been extended to hospitals where children are currently receiving treatment. Dropbox has provided the charity with iPads, allowing 10 additional families every week to participate in the camp activities.
Dun & Bradstreet
At Dun & Bradstreet, data scientists are “lending their experience and expertise” to developing resources for both the public and private sectors, chief communications officer Michele Caselnova said.
“For larger enterprises, we are helping clients conduct high-quality research to jump-start their business,” she explained. “For small businesses, we are offering complimentary access to resources to help them position themselves to restart their business as stay-at-home orders are lifted.
“We have also launched a free Covid-19 Business Impact Research platform to help governments identify where to prioritise recovery efforts and to aid businesses with getting back on their feet.”
Many of the people at Dun & Bradstreet have also been giving back locally by donating PPE and cleaning supplies to medical centres and helping food banks.
“We also have created a Covid-19 relief-giving campaign whereby the company will match teammates’ donations twice to the United Nations Foundation Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund and the Center for Disease Control Foundation,” Caselnova added.
Laura Mackin, communications and marketing manager at Liberty IT, told us about the software company’s current CSR activities. “We’ve always been active within our communities and, for us, the Covid-19 pandemic has focused more of our time and efforts into corporate responsibility than ever before,” she said.
“All 500-plus of us at Liberty IT are lucky to be successfully working business-as-usual at home, so we feel incredibly fortunate and want to give back whenever we can.
“Our corporate responsibility and social groups have raised over €16,000 since April for our charity partners Pieta House and The Welcome Organisation through competitions, raffles and, for a few of our teams, getting sponsored to complete their own walking, hiking and running challenges.
“As an organisation, we’ve diverted funds usually spent on internal events to our charity partners and our employees have donated their monthly social club contributions to the charities as well.”
Mackin is also a member of Liberty IT’s Pride committee and is currently working to bring the “annual spotlight and activities to life” remotely.
As a healthcare company, MSD already has patients at the forefront of its work, but this has been ramped up during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has been donating critical equipment – including 1,000 pairs of gloves and 440 face masks – to local healthcare organisations and supporting BioPharmaChem Ireland to trial and manufacture components for detecting Covid-19.
The company also sourced thermometers for two oncology centres to ensure patients could take their temperature prior to arriving to the facilities, with the aim of limiting the spread of infection.
MSD Ireland’s managing director, Ger Brennan, said: “In April, MSD Brinny supported the National Intensive Care Unit appeal for oxygen equipment and partnered with our provider to transfer a 60,000-litre oxygen tank from our site to University Hospital Limerick.
“MSD Ballydine partnered with local Tipperary health services to prepare hand sanitiser for use in healthcare settings across Tipperary.
“We also continue to work with our 2020 ‘Neighbour of Choice’, Teen-Turn, to support the delivery of their programmes in an online setting and to ensure they can continue their critical work, despite the current challenges.”
Workhuman develops a platform based on social recognition and communication. So, how has it been extending those principles to the wider society during Covid-19?
Kevin Mullins, VP of CSR and partnerships, said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, we shifted our CSR efforts so we can help our own humans and support them to help their wider communities.
“Some of the activities include a donation of iPads to six hospitals in Dublin as well as in Massachusetts – both locations of our headquarters. This donation is designed to help keep families connected during life’s most important moments.
“We have also made a donation to St Ultan’s School in Dublin to help them purchase a freezer so they can continue to support their student’s families with weekly meal packs being delivered to 250-plus families.”
Workhuman also set up a new platform, Thank You Healthcare. “We’ve seen so much gratitude being shared all over the world for the healthcare community,” Mullins said.
“The Thank You Healthcare site is designed to bring it all together in one place to say thank you to hospitals and all the amazing healthcare workers for all they do and sacrifice every day.”