Community investment is important to us. In 2012 our total contributions to communities around the world, including money, gifts in kind and time devoted by employees, amounted to £8 million.
Our policy for global charitable contributions and social sponsorships sets out our main areas of support. These are:
- Education and skills, particularly Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) which are key to our future success
- Environment activities linking into our environment strategy
- Social investment, making a positive difference to the communities in which we operate.
- Arts, culture and heritage, contributing to the cultural vibrancy in the areas where we operate.
A clear governance structure underpins this support. This ensures we have a consistent approach with transparency around our global contributions.
National governments are often our customers and we aim to build strategic relationships with governments in our key markets. National governments and the EU also set the legislative and policy framework for doing business and they are a potential source of funding and support for research and technology (R&T), research and development (R&D), manufacturing, education and training initiatives, as well as for certain capital projects. Effective relationships allow us to communicate and collaborate on a range of issues. We engage in dialogue to try to align our own business needs with the political, social, economic, industrial and commercial requirements of national governments and the EU.
We invest in communities because it makes good business sense. It benefits not only the communities in which we operate but our employees as well.
Here are a number of the business benefits we derive from our community strategy:
- It supports recruitment and retention, particularly through investment in the science and technical skills which are needed by young people to develop exciting STEM careers.
- It raises employee engagement by encouraging a sense of loyalty and pride amongst our people, motivating them to be the best they can be.
- Working with communities, our people develop professional and personal skills such as teamwork, leadership and adaptability while demonstrating ethical behaviour. This is also linked to our employee competency framework.
- We enhance our reputation as a business by building proactive and mutually beneficial relationships in the communities where we operate.
- Community investment also demonstrates good corporate citizenship, which is important for our brand and reputation.
Our Global Charitable Contributions and Social Sponsorships Policy and Procedure sets out a consistent approach with clear visibility around our contributions. It makes sure we achieve our charitable and social objectives with good governance.
The policy also highlights the responsibilities held at Group level and within the regions, sectors and functions. It supports our approval procedure and gives us transparency around our charitable and social contributions. This is important for statutory reporting and benchmarking.
Responsibility for our contributions is held by the Group Charitable Contributions and Social Sponsorship Committee. It approves our responses to disaster relief and reviews all contributions and social sponsorships with a Group-wide remit, or with a total value beyond £50,000. The committee also reports every year to the Executive Leadership ream, detailing our total contributions.
Operating below the Group level, our Regional Charitable Contributions and Social Sponsorship Committees agree budgets and establish the appropriate delegated authorities within our most important locations. They report every year to the Group committee and refer requests of more than £50,000 for review. Finally, our business sections and functions report their own charitable contributions and social sponsorships to the Group committee.
We aim to make a difference in the areas of education and skills, the environment, social investment and arts, culture and heritage.
In education, we are involved in a number of projects that inspire young people to study STEM subjects. We encourage them to see the life-long opportunities on offer and why this is so important to economic prosperity.
We have a clear commitment to the environment and to reducing the impact of our facilities on our neighbours. Many of our activities have strong links with education and reflect our employees’ personal commitment to environmental issues.
In partnership with a range of specialist agencies, we support social investment programmes that make a positive difference in local communities. In particular, we support activities that respond to local needs and help disadvantaged communities.
Our work in the field of arts, culture and heritage illustrates how business and the arts can prosper from working in partnership to develop creative thinking and innovation. Activities often link with other themes, particularly education and social investment, and enhance the cultural vibrancy of our local communities.
Globally, our employees give more than £700,000 every year to good causes through our employee giving schemes. These allow employees to give regularly, directly from payroll, to the causes that mean the most to them. Charities and community organisations welcome contributions made in this way, since regular donations allow them to plan and budget for the future. In some countries, charitable contributions made from the payroll are also more tax effective, which can benefit both parties.
In North America, we run a number of programmes through United Way in the US and Centraide in Canada. Employees make contributions to their local programme, deducted from payroll, which are then distributed to support good causes in their area. In some cases, the company makes additional contributions to the programme, or enables employees to get involved as volunteers.
In the UK, more than 3,000 employees make regular donations to good causes. Deductions are made from payroll, before tax, and then distributed to their nominated organisations by Charitable Giving, a payroll giving agency. The administrative costs are paid by the company, so that every penny of an individual’s donation reaches its destination.
We belong to a number of organisations that support community investment. Here is just a flavour:
Business in the community - both UK and international membership: BitC is committed to transforming both the business world and local communities. They ask members to work with them on campaigns that build resilient communities, diverse workplaces and a more sustainable future. For more information, visit their website: www.bitc.org.uk
London Benchmarking Group (LBG): Founded by Corporate Citizenship, LBG provides an internationally recognised global standard for measuring and reporting corporate community investment. Through LBG, more than 100 companies measure their community involvement, which is worth over £1.5 billion at the latest count. For more information, visit their website: www.lbg-online.net