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Tomรกs Sercovich, CEO, Business in the Community Ireland, on how to sustain the journey to responsible business in a global pandemic

Tomรกs Sercovich, CEO, Business in the Community Ireland



t is hard to remember what the world looked like before Covid-19 transformed everything. In our world of responsible and sustainable business, 2020 was expected to be the most critical year of this decisive decade of action. Not only would the UN Sustainable Development Goals reach its fifth anniversary; COP 26 in Glasgow was aimed at delivering on credible commitments by governments and businesses alike to decarbonisation after the uneventful Climate Change Summit in Madrid last December. There was a strong sense of excitement and anticipation of what this fundamental year would deliver, navigating a US Presidential Election, seeing the consolidation of the European Green Deal and with an economy projected to enter a slow and gradual downturn. 2020 started in Davos, as it does every year, with the World Economic Forum declaring the end of shareholder capitalism and strong voices of business leaders, including that of former Unilever CEO Paul Polman stating we were entering the new era of stakeholder capitalism. Then it all changed. Social distancing, respiratory hygiene and a deadly virus took control of our economy and our society. Our economy

came to a violent halt, unemployment soared and a societal divide that was growing became clear and evident for us to see its damaging effects. We have also seen the positives of this crisis: social solidarity at its best; the imposition of flexible working showed it could be done; emissions decreased (due to three-quarters of the world economy grinding to a halt). Our lifestyles changed and we seem to have adapted more or less well to this new reality. For Irish business this has been a challenging year. One full of obstacles and uncertainty that will remain for months. After discussing the various shapes of economic recovery, from the V to the U and the L to the W shapes, economists are now talking about the K shape, where some sectors of

when investors penalise a company for not offering paid sick leave to their staff or for not having a plan to support suppliers in developing countries. In a parallel track to investor activism, civil society movements have highlighted – through movements such as Black Lives Matter – fundamental flaws in our society. Businesses were called out for failing to meet societal expectations faced with racism and discrimination. It is interesting to compare the statements and commitments of some companies and the response they received from civil society movements – especially in the US and the UK. Many companies were called out for making insufficient efforts or for not being authentic about their efforts to tackle racism in the workplace. These voices inundated social media and are surely changing our conversations on racism, but they have also influenced consumers who are challenging their own purchasing decisions. Finally, in relation to our journey to net zero emissions, it is heartening to see that COVID-19 has not derailed this journey and that many companies, as we see in the Business in the Community Ireland Low Carbon Pledge, continue to commit to the long term horizon, thus recognising this is a long journey that requires partnership and alignment of all key stakeholders. our economy will do well and recover easily, while others slump and find it difficult to maintain any semblance of normality. This will impact further on inequality and social divide. While many comparisons have been made between the current crisis and the one we lived a decade ago, a key differentiator is our approach to sustainability. Interestingly, this time it is investors that are raising the bar on their expectations towards business. The market value of responsible and sustainable investments continues to grow and we see now that investors are not only concerned about long term business strategies for inclusive and sustainable business models, but also they are looking for evidence of how companies supported their staff, customers and suppliers during this difficult period. Reputation has a cost

WHERE NEXT? Twenty years ago, Business in the Community Ireland was set up to promote and enable an authentic approach to sustainability. This has not changed in any way. While COVID-19 has damaged our economy, it has brough to clear light the challenges ahead for businesses: meaningful inclusion and the transition to a low carbon future, both underpinned by a need for better disclosure and more accountability from business. The climate action agenda is clear in terms of destination but not on the journey ahead. Despite

companies taking bold steps to reduce emissions, when it comes to managing emissions across the supply chain it becomes more complex to measure and control. A credible roadmap to net zero emissions for any company must include its suppliers as much as its product use and the behavioural change that will be needed to bring about critical change. Initiatives such as the Science-based Targets initiative or the – Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the EU’s Sustainable Finance Taxonomy are driving real change in business planning, strategy and most importantly disclosure. We need to see more companies in Ireland engaging in these processes as this is about our competitiveness and reputation as much as it is about “doing the right thing”. The inclusion agenda of business requires radical change. Last year Business in the Community Ireland launched its Inclusive Employer – a blueprint for business to engage on meaningful inclusion. If we all agree that Irish workplaces need to reflect the wider diversity of our society in all its dimensions, and that business can favour equality of opportunity for all, then we must put inclusion as a fundamental issue in the agenda of Boards and the Senior Leadership of businesses. How? Through disclosure, change management and bringing together community outreach and recruitment and retention under one single banner of inclusion. The business case for inclusion is clear. If there is one thing COVID-19 has demonstrated is that the time to act is now. We all have a role to play in building inclusive societies and sustainable economies where everyone thrives. Collaboration and partnership as well as leadership from business will be the drivers of change. This will be indeed a key decade to chart our roadmap to a better future for all.



Caring for the present, caring for the future Gas Networks Ireland supporting the young, the elderly and the environment


t Gas Networks Ireland we connect over 705,000 businesses and homes to one of the most modern and safe gas networks in the world. In doing this, we are mindful of our sustainability responsibilities and aim to contribute to the protection of the environment while supporting the social and economic development of the communities we operate in, as well as the wider economy. We are proud to be one of only 34 companies in Ireland to hold the Business Working Responsibly Mark for our responsible and sustainable business practices. We are committed to ensuring that sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do and to helping Ireland to reduce its carbon emissions, and we are delighted to have been nominated in three categories at the Chambers


Ireland Sustainable Business Impact Awards (in the Partnership with Charity, Community Programme and Environment categories). Our parent company Ervia has also been recognised with a nomination in the Workplace category for our Work Safe Home Safe programme.

CARING FOR THE ELDERLY In 2019 we supported Age Action’s ‘Care and Repair’ programme which offers free DIY and household repair services to ensure that older people can remain safe, secure and independent in their own homes for as long as possible. Donations from our customer care survey process came to €15,579 in 2019. This funded 620 hours of direct Care and Repair support for people in Cork and Dublin, covering the cost of the Care and Repair service for the full year. We also donated an upgraded van,


complete with Age Action branding, to the Care and Repair team in Cork, as well as servicing Age Action’s own fleet of vans. Staff donated clothing to Age Action charity shops and raised €3,180 through fundraising activities on St Patrick’s Day, Easter and Christmas. On the UN International Day of Older Persons, 40 employees from our Dublin office tidied the gardens of 25 older people in the local community, clocking up over 240 volunteer hours in the process. In addition, since 2016 we have donated €150,000 worth of carbon monoxide alarms to Age Action’s Care and Repair programme. Age Action volunteers install the alarms in the homes of vulnerable older people following full training on carbon monoxide alarm installation and safety.

INSPIRING YOUNG PEOPLE Gas Networks Ireland is the main sponsor of Co-operation Ireland’s Cork/Belfast Youth Leadership Programme. This project develops positive relations among Irish young people and communities on a crosscommunity and cross-border basis. A total of 36 young people graduated

from Co-operation Ireland’s Youth Leadership Programme in 2019—22 in Cork and 14 in Dublin. Overall these 36 young people spent 10,690 hours learning on the Youth Leadership Programme in 2019. The 2019 Cork cohort, from Terence MacSwiney College in Knocknaheeny, Carrignafoy Community College in Cobh and Bishopstown Foróige Group took part in youth leadership projects focussing on sports leadership and on social action. Previous projects have included addressing bullying in schools, how to deal with body shaming and working with the Samaritans. The participants, aged between 14 and 17, met and worked with peers from different backgrounds, locally and cross-border, to develop positive relationships and deepen their respect and understanding for cultural diversity. With links between youth groups in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the crossborder partnership involves reciprocal exchanges, with the young people visiting each other’s communities and learning from and about each other, with the opportunity to share learning in relation to their leadership courses.

ENHANCING BIODIVERSITY In February 2019 at Ireland’s first National Biodiversity Conference, we became one of 14 founding members of the Irish Business and Biodiversity Platform and signed the ‘Our Seeds

for Nature’ Charter, launched by the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht. The Charter is a public pledge to manage all infrastructure, assets and offices in line with biodiversity best practice; to strive to have a net positive impact on biodiversity in all our operations; and to promote red clover, which is good for bees and soil, by encouraging farmers to grow this as a feedstock crop to produce renewable gas. We continue to be a business supporter of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan with measures currently implemented at a number of sites, including reduced grass cuttings and pesticide use, installation of bird boxes, biodiversity awareness signage and planting of wildflowers. We installed two beehives at one of our gas stations in Cork and produced our first batch of honey this summer. We have also hosted biodiversity awareness sessions in local primary schools, with 62 children learning about the importance of biodiversity by building insect hotels for their school grounds and installing bird boxes to attract nesting birds. We also collaborated with Cork City Council to install a large bug hotel in Shalom Park beside the children’s playground. In 2020 we will continue to drive and enhance biodiversity as part of our long term biodiversity strategy to deliver our 2025 “Seeds for Nature” commitments.



Creating Healthy Possibilities Abbott looks to create healthier communities, and support their staff to live their best lives


bbott’s employees give generously of their time (over 7,000 hours), expertise and resources, supporting numerous community-based initiatives. In 2019 Abbott donated over €216,000 and initiated our largest national charity partnership with the Irish Heart Foundation and ESB Networks, and the company’s employees fundraised over €72,000, made in-kind donations worth €13,000 and supported four Charity of Choice models across the four provinces.

SUPPORTING EMPLOYEES While employees support their communities, Abbott makes it a priority to support its employees, with a suite of health and wellbeing programmes and employee networks, including Women Leaders of Abbott (WLA) and Women in STEM. Margaret Morrissey, Country HR Director, says, “At Abbott, our work around the globe enables people to live healthier and fuller lives. In Ireland, this work starts from within our company as it is our number one priority to ensure the health and wellbeing of our employees. We are fully committed to safeguarding our employees’ and their families’ health and financial security, and offering career opportunities and providing an inclusive workplace welcoming all people and their ideas.” Monitoring programme engagement and uptake has seen impressive increases—Exercise Across Abbott increased 100%; numbers registering with the Women in STEM went up 54% and WLA up 30%.


COMMITTED TO COMMUNITIES “Just like our presence in Ireland, we plan and act in the long-term for our community programmes and we are proud to have created such important and valued partnerships across all of our sites. Through leveraging the skills, expertise and time of our employees, we have been supporting our communities in different ways ensuring it creates longterm impact,” says Daragh Fallon, CSR & Communications Manager. Abbott’s Charity of Choice is an employee-led volunteering and fundraising model. Piloted at the company’s facility in Clonmel, employees raised €60,000, and contributed over 1,500 volunteer hours to install a sensory gym at Scoil Aounghusa, Cashel. Our STEM engagement programmes

aim to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists. The company has developed an holistic approach to supporting important STEM programmes right across the four provinces. Through developing strong partnerships with key stakeholders such as Science Foundation Ireland, Abbott work to ensure that students have access to learn about STEM in fun and innovative ways. For example, employees use their STEM knowledge and expertise to deliver the company’s bespoke ASPIRE with Abbott and Abbott Family Science programmes to multiple locations across the country. Abbott’s passion for STEM education and commitment to their communities will ensure that programmes like these continue to be delivered into the future


Hands for Life The Irish Heart Foundation, supported by Abbott and ESB Networks, worked to bring free CPR training to communities across Ireland through the Hands for Life programme.


he Irish Heart Foundation launched the Hands for Life community cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training programme in March of 2019, proudly supported by global healthcare company Abbott and ESB Networks, offering free CPR training to people and communities across Ireland, with the aim of training 100,000 members of the public. The programme was launched by nurse Aoife McGivney, who had recently used her CPR training to save the life of a bus driver who was suffering a cardiac emergency. Tim Collins, CEO of the Irish Heart Foundation, says, “Every day in Ireland 13 people die from a cardiac arrest. Around 70 per cent of these happen at home in front of a loved one. If there is someone nearby who knows CPR and can start performing compressions quickly, you can double or even triple a person’s chances of survival.” Conor Murphy, Site Director, Abbott, adds, “Abbott works to keep hearts healthy with our life-changing technologies and by empowering communities to prevent non-communicable diseases, here in Ireland and around the world. We know CPR saves lives, and by providing CPR training through Hands for Life, we can provide people across Ireland with the practical knowledge they need to step in


and save a life in the most serious of situations.” Having received the correct training, a member of the public is 10 times more likely to respond in the event of an emergency. Hands for Life training courses are taking place in local community centres, clubs and libraries across Ireland over a period of two years. The communications goal around the campaign was to create a compelling narrative around the fact that anyone can be a lifesaver, and it was an opportunity to share some inspiring real-life stories from people whose lives had been saved by CPR. The call to action was: Set aside one hour, learn this life-saving skill, and give people and families across Ireland the gift of life. Unfortunately the courses are on pause due to COVID-19, but in the period up until March 2020, 920 Hands for Life courses took place across all 26 counties and over 21,000 people were trained.



Tesco Ireland’s Cork and Munster stores came together in celebration of what Pride means to them at the 2019 Cork LGBT+ Pride Festival Parade. Photo: Cathal Noonan

Every Little Help makes a big difference As a leading food retailer, Tesco is one of the largest private-sector employers in Ireland employing over 13,000 colleagues across 151 stores, head office and distribution centres.


t Tesco, we believe that every little help makes a big difference. It drives what we do every day for our colleagues, in the communities where we operate, and for the breadth of customers, we serve. It is the heart of our CSR and sustainability approach, the Little Helps plan. The Little Helps Plan is a core part of the Tesco business and focuses on four key areas, People, Product, Places and Planet. These four pillars focus on the most important social and environmental issues and essentially


guide us in making the right decisions for our colleagues, customers, and support the communities we serve.

PEOPLE Our people are our most important asset and at Tesco, everyone is welcome. We’re proud to empower our colleagues to be themselves at work. This year, we continue to sponsor Dublin Pride and Cork Pride festivals and we are also continuing to champion diversity and inclusion in our workplace. We’re very proud to have retained the Great Place to Work accreditation,

based on feedback from our colleagues, for the third consecutive year. We have also been acknowledged once again as one of the Best Workplaces for Women nationally. We believe in treating people with respect and allowing everyone to get on. We’re proud signatories of the Diversity Charter Ireland and the 30% Club, which promotes female representation in business at leadership level.

PRODUCTS We have no time for waste. We believe that no good food should go


million for the little heroes. Thanks to the generosity of customers and the dedication of colleagues, we celebrated raising €5million in five years in February 2020. The funds raised have helped the hospital to purchase over 270 pieces of life-saving medical equipment for patients including ultrasound scanners and respiratory equipment, which are making an impact in children’s lives today.


Kari Daniels, CEO of Tesco and Denise Fitzgerald, CEO of Temple Street pictured with Temple Street patients Ethan (3) ,Jacob (6) Byrne and their sister Alannah aged 8 from Greystones, Co. Wicklow, patients of Temple Street celebrating Tesco reaching a monumental fundraising milestone having raised €5 million over the course of its five-year partnership with Temple Street. Photo: Marc O’Sullivan

to waste when there are people in our communities who can benefit from it. We were the first national Irish retailer to launch a surplus food donations programme with FoodCloud. Since the partnership began in 2014, we have donated 11 million meals to over 350 charitable organisations including afterschool clubs, youth groups and senior citizen support services across Ireland.

As the only retailer to publish independently assured food waste data in Ireland, we have partnered with twelve of our large Irish fresh suppliers to tackle the issue of food waste at their manufacturing sites and to adopt the UN’s SDG goal 12.3. These Irish food suppliers including Country Crest, Keelings, and Manor Farm have committed to publicly target, measure, act and publish details of their food waste this year. Tesco Community Fund was created in 2014 to donate funds to community projects. Every eight weeks, each store donates up to €1,000 amongst three causes in its community and to date, the Fund has helped over 16,850 local projects nationwide. Since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic in Ireland, we have worked to extend support in communities and donated €150,000 among three national charities, Alone, Family Carers Ireland and Age Action. Through the Community Fund, we have supported over 1,300 local causes with donations of €360,000 to the local causes supporting those affected by the pandemic.

PLACES We began our partnership with Temple Street Children’s Hospital in 2014 and we aimed to raise €5

Our target is to ensure we never use more packaging than is needed, and what we do use is from sustainable sources and goes on to be reused or recycled. We have been working hard to reduce the use of plastics by working with suppliers and minimising plastic packaging in own-label products. By 2025, we aim to halve the packaging weight in our business, and all paper and board will be 100% sustainable. Earlier this year we became the first retailer in Ireland to remove plastic-wrapped tinned multipacks in stores, removing 1.5 million pieces of non-recyclable plastic each year. We aim to be a zero-carbon business by 2050. Since 2016, we’ve made significant energy efficiency upgrades to the fridge, lighting and heating systems across our stores. All electricity we use in our operations is from 100% renewable sources. In June, we became the first Irish retailer to purchase renewable gas created from our own surplus food to power six of our stores, in a partnership with Green Generation, anaerobic-digestion plant in Nurney, Co. Kildare. This will reduce our carbon emissions by 1,200 tonnes annually. We’re committed to becoming a more sustainable business and acknowledge the important role we must play in supporting and encouraging our suppliers and customers to do the same. Now more than ever, every little helps.



Sustaining Rural Communities Dawn Meats is nominated in four categories, highlighting the company’s purpose to provide consistent quality meat products from sustainable sources to support rural communities, human health and nature’s eco-system

DAWN MEATS CONNECT PROGRAMME A key commitment for Dawn is to engage with the wider community to raise awareness of the value of the meat industry to local economies. CONNECT is an umbrella outreach programme, designed to illustrate the type of engagements Dawn has with its key stakeholders, including students, rural communities, aspiring young farmers, established farmers and the food industry. For Dawn to


prosper as a business, the company affirms that rural communities must succeed, consumers must derive the best nutrition and health outcomes from its products and the environment must thrive. The CONNECT Programme effectively brings together important sustainability projects which Dawn has committed to, and its impact has been to increase market share through enhanced customer relationships and a stronger reputation. The societal

impact has been to support local business and the farming community, by contributing €1.67bn annually to Irish and UK rural economies, producing quality meat products which contribute positively to human nutrition, as part of a balanced diet. Dawn is helping to improve the environmental impact and reputation of the agri-food industry, by researching, advocating and communicating more sustainable farming practices.


VOLUNTEERING WITH JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT IRELAND The aim of the Dawn JAI project was to educate primary school children on how to establish a business, providing them with valuable lifelong knowledge, and to strengthen the link between businesses and the local community. In 2019, the JAI My First Business programme was delivered by Dawn Meats volunteers via a series of activity-based enterprise education workshops in the classroom. The students had the opportunity to present their business ideas to local business people at Waterford Institute of Technology. Students also visited the Dawn site at Carroll’s Cross, to learn how the company makes beef patties for McDonald’s and see how the business operates. JAI’s Partnership Report, noted that the volunteers “inspired and motivated 158 students in three schools in Waterford and Kilkenny” and afforded the students “fantastic learning opportunities”. According to JAI, “the benefits of Entrepreneurship Education have been widely documented”, and include higher salaries for participating students, who are “more motivated in their careers than their peers, four to five times more likely to start their own businesses, show more selfconfidence, are more skilled at self-assessment, make better higher education choices, have higher rates of employability”.

DIVERSITY & INCLUSION Dawn recognises that its people are the key to ongoing success, and that by their actions, employees greatly influence the future of the business. Dawn’s employees are a diverse, inclusive and empowered team, striving to make a difference through their everyday work. Dawn’s vision as an employer includes continuous process innovation and investment, challenging and supporting people to realise their full potential as part of a high-performance team in a safe working environment. Dawn has aligned its Diversity and Inclusion Strategy with other strategies and initiatives, including recruitment, learning and development, employee engagement, health and wellbeing and community and charity events. The company aims to celebrate cultural diversity and to have a positive impact in the communities where employees and their families live. Dawn supports diversity and inclusion in its supply chain through initiatives such as farmers’ sustainability programs, to help young farmers develop business skills and commercial awareness. In 2019 Dawn became the first Irish food manufacturer to achieve BITC’s Business Working Responsibly Mark, of which diversity and inclusion is a key performance area. Along with Diageo, Dawn were

joint winners of the 2019 Bord Bia Food and Drink Awards, Diversity and Inclusion Category.

ORIGIN GREEN SUSTAINABILITY PLAN Dawn’s five-year Origin Green Plan supports and aligns with the overall 15-year Sustainability Strategy. It addresses a range of material environmental concerns including emissions from agriculture and processing, resource use efficiency and the treatment and disposal of packaging and food waste. The Origin Green Plan addresses material social concerns such as health and nutrition, wellbeing, corporate giving and community engagement. The Plan has made a significant contribution towards achieving Dawn’s sustainability targets. Over 92% of beef and lamb in Ireland is sourced from members of Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme. Regarding the Group 2025 Goals, Dawn has achieved 57%, 45% and 66% of its water, energy and emission intensity reduction targets respectively. A zero waste to landfill business, Dawn’s food waste is less than 0.1% on average. These gains and efficiencies have had a positive impact on the business in the form of cost savings and increased revenue and market share, through enhanced customer relationships, a stronger reputation and new business generation.



Agile, Responsive and Inclusive Bank of Ireland has been nominated in four categories which demonstrate its agile, responsive and inclusive approaches to sustainable business across all its initiatives

LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD In 2017, Francesca McDonagh joined Bank of Ireland as CEO and was clear that Gender Balance was a key priority within the Inclusion and Diversity strategy and across the organisation. In March 2018, she announced that all management and leadership appointments should represent a 50:50 gender ratio by 2021. Bank of Ireland was the first Irish bank to publicly announce this goal and are on track to meet this. At the time of Ms McDonagh’s announcement, female representation at senior management levels in the Bank was 37%. Female colleagues accounted for 40% of appointments at senior management levels in 2018. In 2019, 44% of appointments made within the senior management population were female, showing the Bank is on track to meet its 50:50 gender balance target in 2021. The Bank has set the goal of achieving 47% female appointments at senior management levels in 2020. Progress is measured and reported to the Gender Equality Commission (GEC) through the quarterly Inclusion and Diversity dashboard and quarterly People dashboard. It is also the first Irish bank to publish its gender pay gap. VULNERABLE CUSTOMER UNIT Bank of Ireland recognises that while the majority of customers feel empowered to use its services, this is not the case for all. From talking to frontline staff, support and advocacy groups and analysing complaints the Bank believed it needed to do more for



organisations assisting vulnerable individuals and groups through this difficult period. The CFI has confirmed that between 60 and 100 local communities will directly benefit from these grants.

its most vulnerable customers and so a specialised Vulnerable Customer Unit (VCU) was established with training from leading support and advocacy experts. After establishing the Unit, the Bank recorded a 40% reduction in vulnerable customer complaints, mitigation of risk issues and improved Customer Effort Score (CES). This transformation was brought about by the team receiving best in class training from AsIAm (autism), Rutland (addiction), St John of God (poverty), Alzheimers Society (dementia), NCBI (sight), IDS (hearing) and TENEO (transgender). Since May 2019 the team has taken over 5,000 calls and 3,800 emails and has taken over 400 referrals direct from frontline social and healthcare staff who now have a direct line into the Bank for all care and fair deal matters. COVID-19 €1M EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND In response to the COVID-19 emergency, Bank of Ireland worked with its existing partner, The Community Foundation for Ireland (CFI), which advised it on a wide

range of social issues and needs that required immediate financial support. This led to an announcement on 3rd April, that Bank of Ireland was donating €1m in emergency funding to communities with urgent needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with CFI, the Bank was able to fast-track €500,000 of the funds to 13 organisations for 11 separate projects working to support the immediate needs of vulnerable groups, directly benefiting 269,500 people on the island of Ireland, north and south. This funding was delivered to projects supporting children and older people, domestic abuse, rural isolation, cancer support and mental health. The remaining €500,000 was donated to The Community Foundation for Ireland and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s COVID-19 Funds to help local charities and community

AGILE WAYS OF WORKING Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, more than 3,000 Bank of Ireland colleagues were already enjoying the flexibility afforded by remote working, thanks to the Bank’s Agile Ways of Working (AWoW) initiative. AWoW is a colleague-led initiative which aimed to co-create a new way of working, that successfully maximises choice and flexibility in how all colleagues work and live, enabling them to thrive both professionally and personally. The goals were developed collaboratively by working with a network of Divisional leads from across the business, to enhance existing policies and introduce new policies to support AWoW, such as ‘dress for the day ahead’ and flexible working guidelines. Bank of Ireland partnered with DCU to complete a series of 3 surveys over 12 month period to assess the impact on approximately 1,600 pilot participants. It found those who adopted or increased flexible working experienced increased work life balance and team effectiveness while decreasing turnover intention, with 79% of colleagues stating agile working has a positive life impact, and 45% of people managers believing team productivity has increased. Another benefit has been an average of 4.6 hours commuting time per person saved weekly.



Working Together on ‘Work Safe, Home Safe’ Working across multiple business units, Ervia has put in place an initiative that is more than a safety strategy — protecting employees safety on the job, mental health, and communities


he Work Safe, Home Safe (WSHS) initiative came about as a means to transform safety culture further develop and maintain the necessary systems, processes and resources in order to achieve Ervia’s safety vision, and continuously improve upon it. The areas of focus not only looked at the traditional health and safety fields, but from the outset placed great importance on supporting our people in the area of health and well-being. The aims were agreed through collaboration with Ervia business units across Irish Water, Gas


Networks Ireland, Aurora telecoms, Major Projects and our Group centre colleagues. This has delivered year-on-year improvements in accident reduction, increased employee engagement (validated through survey results), and resulted in the establishment of online doctor services and health and wellbeing initiatives. We view the WSHS programme as an ongoing journey, so we continue to develop new initiatives each year across all Ervia business units to drive improvements in health, safety and well-being. Collaboration between Ervia, Irish

Water and Gas Networks Ireland was critical in the successful delivery of the WSHS programme. Based on survey results, we were pleased to find that the WSHS initiative has increased levels of employee engagement in relation to safety year-on-year; this is thanks to a communications strategy which worked across all Ervia business units which was critical for the delivery of our programmes. Approximately 1,600 people were involved between coordination, collaboration in getting the initiative up and running, so clear and unambiguous messaging was a cornerstone of the project.


the potential of someone striking high pressure gas mains; and a new online permit to work system for Non-Routine Operations—this allowed teams to see where critical maintenance works were taking place by mapping these on to maps of Ireland and Irish towns and cities. All of these innovations work to optimise our risk management practices for high hazard activities, and we have observed year-on-year increases in hazard reporting resulting in year-onyear reductions in our overall lost time incidents, not only for staff but also for our business partners and contractors.


ALL OUR PLANS LOOK TO PROTECT ERVIA EMPLOYEES AND DELIVERY PARTNERS AND PROVIDE SAFE AND EFFICIENT PUBLIC SERVICES TODAY, WHILE PROTECTING IRELAND’S FUTURE PROSPERITY, ITS ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.” WORKSHOPPING SAFETY As part of WSHS, a number of workshops were rolled out nationwide to provide training and increased engagement with employees. The workshops showcased scenarios that allowed for staff to ‘step-in’ and interact with what they were observing. A major innovation in the way this training occurred was the use of trained actors to play out workplace scenarios to an audience of Ervia employees, with the aim of helping our staff to understand how accidents can happen. The programme was followed up with additional workshops to embed lessons learned from the preliminary phases of the programme. These sessions were aimed at what Ervia identified as key safety influencers including front line, middle and senior management colleagues. In addition to the above, Ervia trained ‘Safety

Paul Lennon, Ervia Group, Head of Safety and Asset Performance Coaches’ to support the roll out of safety leadership conversations. This would facilitate engagement with staff and help tease out any safety, health or well-being issues the workforce encountered in their day-to-day tasks.

INNOVATIONS A number of innovations have come about as a result of our focus on our new safety strategy. These include the ‘Hazcon’ (hazardous conditions) app which has been added to company phones to allow employees report unsafe conditions online, anytime, to could prevent accidents and incidents at source; Dial Before You Dig, a web-based service to allow contractors and other third parties access to gas infrastructure drawings, minimising

Our CSR team in conjunction with our project teams have also worked with external communities through initiatives such as ‘Time to Read’ where we supported the development of primary school students in aiding their reading, writing and literacy skills. Ervia and our business unit in GNI have a number of community initiatives whereby we support Age Action and provide IT skills to allow older folks to use technology to stay in contact with their families in these uncertain times during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other community outreach projects included support to Tidy Towns and beach cleanups. This WSHS initiative has been running for over five years now and feedback from staff has been very positive over throughout that time. With COVID-19 in mind, we are adding new Body-Life and Mind resources for staff, while also looking to the future with sustainability initiatives to optimise our environmental performance each year including transport sector innovations, increasing renewable energy usage on our networks, and improvements in waste and drinking water. All our plans look to protect Ervia employees and delivery partners and provide safe and efficient public services today, while protecting Ireland’s future prosperity, its environment and socio-economic development for future generations.



Swift Responses Saving Lives Canada Life Reinsurance’s Community First Responder scheme helps save lives


anada Life Reinsurance volunteers operate Ireland’s first corporatebased Community First Responder (CFR) scheme. Located in the Irish Life Centre, staff respond to 999 medical call alerts from the Ambulance Service in Dublin City Centre. The medical calls include chest pain, stroke and cardiac arrest. The team are trained to assist a patient until the arrival of paramedics. For every minute after a cardiac arrest there’s a ten per cent decreased chance of survival; the volunteers aim to be at any casualty within three minutes of a call being received. This provides an important link in the chain of survival.


In addition to setting up its own CFR team, since 2016 the company has supported the setup of similar groups, not only with equipment but also providing support on communications and administration. In one case they installed a defibrillator which was used just weeks later to successfully resuscitate a casualty. Canada Life Reinsurance continues to support CFR groups nationally. The CFR initiative is a key area of our Corporate Social Responsibilities program and one we are committed to for the long term. During the Covid-19 epidemic the volunteers have also supported the HSE, with activities including packing swab tests and sourcing and supplying PPE for hospitals.



Supporting Blind Children Scope is working to fund a clinical psychologist for ChildVision, the National Education Centre for Blind Children


cope offers innovative management products for Ocular Surface Disease and Age-Related Macular Degeneration to pharmacies, hospitals, opticians, and consumers. Its products are used primarily to manage dry eye disease, caused by a malfunction of the tear-duct and which stings or burns the eyes. Given the nature of Scope’s business, it made sense to partner with ChildVision, the National Education Centre for Blind Children, for our charity and volunteering work. Upwards of 80% of working age people with sight loss in Ireland are unemployed and we recognise that early intervention to rehabilitation is key to allowing young blind children to grow up happy, healthy, independent and capable. Our partner ChildVision told us that they desperately needed to fund a clinical psychologist to enhance the lives of blind and multi-disabled children and their families.

STAKEHOLDER SUPPORT Our team explored fundraising options and together decided to form a committee and run a golf tournament to raise funds to part fund this service. We needed the support of employees and stakeholders to guarantee we could reach our fundraising goal, so we created a volunteering opportunity with ChildVision for Scope employees. Scopers were invited to volunteer at ChildVision’s annual Garden Party. This provided ChildVision with the

volunteers they needed to run the event, at the same time giving our team valuable insight into the lived experiences of young people with sight loss and their families. Witnessing the differences and daily difficulties these children face motivated and inspired our employees to get involved. Typically, corporate donations are given for capital projects rather than running costs. In Scope we recognise that funding running costs is key to guaranteeing the success of service users through continued access to services. Moreover, a diagnosis of sight loss affects the entire family, having access to an expert clinical psychologist ensures that parents are supported in re-imagining their child’s future in a positive way, while also offering young blind children support as they navigate their childhood in a sighted world. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to supporting

our community partners through professional skills volunteering and in kind donations if and where feasible. Furthermore, we are exploring a work experience offering for ChildVision service users. This will ensure that young people with sight loss can avail of an accessible work experience opportunity. This will in turn give them a valuable insight into the world of work. It also ensures they have an opportunity to gain meaningful work experience which we hope will support them in gaining meaningful employment in the future.



Education and Experience EirGrid’s school link focuses on meaningful engagement and professional experience

Margaret Aylward Community College students participating in the 2019/2020 Programme, pictured with teacher Kate McDonnell and EirGrid programme co-ordinators Sherine King and Lynda Fitzpatrick.


irGrid is currently in our seventh year of partnership with Margaret Aylward Community College (MACC), organised through the Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) ‘Business Action on Education’ suite of programmes. Our link continues to grow from strength to strength; each year we receive positive feedback, not only from the MACC students, but also from EirGrid volunteers who find being involved rewarding for them too. For EirGrid, our partnership with MACC supports our focus on removing barriers to education, a key tenet of the ‘Positivity’ pledge of EirGrid’s CSR Strategy. Key aims are to encourage students to stay in school and recognise the value of completing their education, to help prepare students for the transition from school to further education or employment, and to give students an insight into the world of work by providing information on seeking, finding and retaining employment.


The ‘Business Action on Education’ programmes allow businesses like EirGrid to support schools and students from communities at risk of educational under-achievement. MACC is a participant in the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) programme, aimed at addressing the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities.

MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT Our key focus is to provide these students with the opportunity to develop skills in new areas and to experience a professional office environment. Generally the group of participating students is small, which gives us the opportunity for deep and meaningful engagement with each one. Modules include CV writing, interview skills, business etiquette and communication skills. Students undertake mock interviews and a ‘Day in the Life’ session which overviews working in EirGrid. We offer work experience placements to the group, enabling

students to add office experience to their CV, and we provide a reference to the students upon completion of their work experience with EirGrid. Due to the strength of the MACC/ EirGrid partnership, this year we were selected to pilot sessions focused on 2nd year students to support findings that engaging at an earlier stage can ensure students remain in education until Leaving Certificate. This pilot was a great success with good engagement at all sessions by the second year students. In addition to the work to support the students, EirGrid has provided marketing support and social media training for the Principal and teachers in the school to enable them to raise the profile of the school and attract students. This social media training has been invaluable during the school closure as a result of COVID-19. EirGrid also supported the school with a donation to buy hygiene products for the students, as a way to continue making a difference in light of the school closure. EirGrid’s participation in the Skills@ Work programme has offered huge benefits for the participating students, the school, the EirGrid volunteers, and EirGrid as a business. EirGrid operates and develops the electricity grid in Ireland. This includes interconnection with neighbouring grids and the wholesale electricity market. We send power from where it is generated to where it is needed, at the most economic price possible.


ELevating STEM Education PM Group’s ‘ELevate’ Programme inspires young people’s interest in STEM subjects


hile engaging with local schools near our offices in Mahon, Cork and Tallaght, Dublin, we learned that the number of students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects in the Leaving Certificate, and the number progressing to third level education, was extremely low when compared with the national average. An interest in STEM subjects can be fostered by developing a curiosity and wonder about science and technology at as early an age as possible. The ELevate (Education & Learning) Project was conceived with the clear aim of deploying our employee volunteers to inspire as many young people as possible, in our communities, to continue their education, to encourage them to adopt STEM subjects, and to provide opportunities to help them to progress to skilled and rewarding jobs. Cathriona Fitzsimons, Group Corporate Responsibility Manager, says, “With over 45 years’ experience in Architecture and Engineering we are passionate about STEM – it’s what makes the world go round! We also know there is huge disparity in accessing good quality, engaging education that fuels curiosity and imagination. Research tells us that just three positive educational experiences can significantly change a student’s attitude to education and learning. We want to be part of those positive experiences and ‘ELevate’ as many young lives as possible. Good education is a game changer but sadly many

children do not have the supports they need or the role modelling required to see its benefits. We feel it’s incumbent on us to help change the narrative in our communities.”

EDUCATIONAL IMPACT In the past year, over 100 PM Group ELevate Programme volunteers reached over 1,500 students across all levels of education, providing teaching, demonstration and mentoring at individual, group and class levels. As part of the Programme, over 50 work placements are provided annually to transition year (TY) students, to introduce them to the working environment, along with group tuition and project challenges that encourage technical skills as well as presentation and interview confidence. In 2019, we awarded €50,000 bursaries to two secondary schools in disadvantaged areas close to our offices in Mahon, Cork and Tallaght, Dublin. Welcoming the bursary announcement, Jim O’Sullivan, Principal of Nagle

Community College Cork, said, “We are delighted to partner with PM Group in supporting our sixth year and TY students as they pursue third level education. I’m particularly delighted that PM Group has committed to providing mentoring and internship opportunities for our students over the next four years. This will be critically important for them as they transition from the school environment to third level education.” Even in the difficult times of school and college closures and social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis, our volunteers have found ways to continue to deliver as much of the ELevate programme as possible. This has included providing remote mentoring via video conference to over 100 participating third level students. Now more than ever, we need more of our young people to embrace science and engineering, to pursue careers in STEM, and to help tackle the new and emerging scientific challenges of their generation.



A Sustainable Chain: From Pasture to Plate West Cork-based dairy processor, Carbery Group, looks to future-proof its business, minimising environmental impacts and energy requirements with a fully sustainable chain of production


arbery Group is a West Cork-based dairy processor, supplying grass-fed and antibiotic-free sustainable premium dairy ingredients to consumers across the globe. “As a co-operative owned Group, we pursue economic viability and social responsibility in everything we do,” says Group Chairman TJ Sullivan. “Sustainable dairy production is a top priority for Carbery.” A SUSTAINABLE CHAIN With an aim to create a secure future for its farmer shareholders and those who are affected directly and indirectly by its business including colleagues, suppliers,


customers, communities and consumers, Carbery implemented a programme called Carbery Ways of Working, which encompasses Wellness, Charity, Education and Environment, to support staff, dairy farmers and the local West Cork community. “For Carbery Group, being sustainable means ensuring our business is futureproofed and resilient,” says Sustainability Director Enda Buckley. “We listen to our stakeholders and regularly review our approach to keep pace with change and maintain our status as an ethical business. The Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals have set clear expectations that businesses must engage with, and we are committed

to rising to that challenge.” “As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change and resource constraints, it is more important than ever that we continue to do business in a way that we are proud of. We have always embraced strong sustainability principles and have worked hard to minimise our environmental impacts, manage our energy requirements, and bring nutrition improvements and innovation to our products,” says Carbery CEO John Hawkins. “As we look ahead, our ambition is to have a fully sustainable chain, from pasture to plate, and to drive a carbon neutral and zero-waste philosophy right across our business.”


SUPPORTING FARMERS The ‘Carbery 2020 Farmer Ready Conference’ was the first of its kind to be held nationally. Following research with its farmer focus group, Carbery identified areas of concern such as rural isolation, safety and mental health. To address these topics the conference included a world-renowned motivational speaker, a paramedic from the National Ambulance Service and a representative from Cork Sports Partnership. The conference was attended by over 200 farmers and based on the positive feedback received from the co-ops and farmers, it is likely to become an annual event. It will provide farmers with the opportunity to focus on health concerns, overall nutrition and fitness as well as improving safety on the farm. As a business, Carbery continues to minimise its impact on the environment by constantly challenging, innovating and taking a leadership role in new initiatives that have the potential to benefit and improve the environmental footprint of the dairy industry. Carbery have undertaken an interdisciplinary programme of work to increase biodiversity and the the resilience of Irish family dairy farms, empowering farmers as stewards of sustainability.

found it,” notes Hawkins. Carbery became the first dairy processor nationally to provide farmers the opportunity to complete a University Diploma in Environmental Science. To date 23 farmers have now completed the diploma and there is continued interest from farmers and support from University College Cork.

As part of this ambition, Carbery has partnered with academics and other companies in a project to develop a zero emissions dairy farm - Farm Zero C. This is with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of farming, and securing a stable future for Irish family farms. The Biorefinery Project, encouraging farmers into the circular bio-economy, looked at alternative by-products from grass silage. It was the first of its kind to be trialled in Ireland. This new concept has had huge success in Europe and there is significant potential for this project in the Irish Agri-sector. Biorefining turns grass into a series of different green products that could give farmers a more diversified source of income. “Our 1,220 farmer shareholders share our vision to reduce emissions and to add value to every drop of milk. After all, no-one understands better than a farmer how important it is to leave the land in better shape than you

ENGAGING EMPLOYEES The restoration of the walled garden at Carbery’s Ballineen site has been a fantastic addition to staff amenities as well as enhancing biodiversity in the area. The walled garden is now utilised by staff on a daily basis and the wildlife activity is gradually increasing as more planting takes place. In addition to this, the planting of 45,000 trees by staff and farmers was an inventive way of targeting climate change across the West Cork Region. The establishment of Carbery’s Charities Working Group has enabled an increase in support of local charities in the West Cork region, as well as spreading the company’s funds further through its partnership with FoodCloud, which connects businesses that have surplus food to charities and community groups that need it. Another charity support initiative has seen Carbery being the main sponsor of SCAR Skibbereen Adventure Race since 2017. To date, proceeds from the event have supported charities including the Capuchin Day Centre for the Homeless, the Cork Association for Autism, Pieta House and Bóthar.



Championing Social Entrepreneurship Permanent TSB’s partnership with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland supports entrepreneurs who are solving some of Ireland’s toughest social issues


ermanent TSB has a long history of supporting our customers and communities and we are committed to building upon this legacy as we continue to rebuild trust and help to make a difference. Through building strong community partnerships and working alongside charities such as Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, we are focussed on doing just that – building on our 200 year history and playing an active role in communities across Ireland. SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS In 2017, Permanent TSB entered into a five-year partnership with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI), contributing both financial support €375,000 over five years – and also implementing an extensive employee engagement programme between SEI and employees of the Bank. Social entrepreneurs take an entrepreneurial approach to solving social issues such as affordable housing, poverty alleviation, improved mental health and wellbeing, environmental sustainability, and everything in between. SEI’s mission is to find people with solutions to social problems and support them on every step of their journey. Since its foundation in 2004, SEI has supported more than 370 social entrepreneurs across the country to move from idea, to action, to impact. Today, we are three years into our five year partnership and have already achieved more than we had set out to do. To date, the Bank has contributed more than €385,000 in funding to support the work of


Caitriona Watters-Crehan, Founder and CEO of PrepareMe, who create resources for children and adults with additional needs.

Hugh Brennan, Founder and CEO of the Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance, which builds top-quality, energy efficient homes at an affordable price for first time buyers hoping to get on the property ladder. SEI, surpassing our original financial commitment. In 2019, our people provided nearly 300 hours of pro-bono support to SEI programmes, equating to more than €7,000 of inkind giving. Examples of this include engaging our people in SEI’s annual awards review and selection process, supporting CyberSafeIreland to redevelop their website and online platforms and having Senior Management from the Bank work alongside the CEOs of SEI programmes in a mentorship capacity – sharing knowledge and skills, encouraging new ideas and inviting new ways of thinking. CHANGING IRELAND: MY BIG IDEA Permanent TSB was proud to champion courage and celebrate entrepreneurship through our support of Changing Ireland: My Big Idea, a brand new six part docuseries produced for RTÉ One, in association with SEI. Changing Ireland: My Big Idea followed some of the most successful social entrepreneurs from the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Alumni Network, showcasing the

Adam Harris, Founder and CEO of AsIAm, Ireland’s National Autism Charity.

positive impact that their work is having across the country and detailing their journey from start-up to scale-up. The six part docuseries launched in March 2020 and marked a key milestone for SEI as it provided a national platform for entrepreneurs to tell their stories for the first time on the big screen. The docuseries has had in excess of 1.75 million views to date, which is extremely positive and shows that during a time of crisis due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Ireland is in search of a good news story. The docuseries began a second six week run on RTÉ One on Monday the 7th of September.


Rebuilding The Lives Of Children Through Permanent TSB’s partnership with Barretstown children’s charity, some staff have become regular volunteers at the Kildare camp for seriously ill children


he Permanent TSB Staff Charities Fund supports the work of Irish based charities by providing funding to community organisations that are having a positive and meaningful impact on the ground and who are working hard to make a difference. Staff Charities works in tandem with the Permanent TSB Community Fund, and through a combined effort aims to contribute c. €300,000 back into local communities each year. Since its establishment, the Staff Charities Fund has donated in excess of €1 million to Irish Charities, supporting local communities across the country. Barretstown is a children’s charity founded in 1994, which was established to assist children with cancer and other serious illnesses through ‘Therapeutic Recreation’. The goal of our partnership was to ensure that Barretstown can continue to rebuild the lives of children who are coping with serious illness (and their families) through providing top class family camp facilities, medical assistance and hospital outreach programmes across Ireland. Throughout our partnership, we worked closely with the team at Barretstown to ensure that our support directly supported families, and delivered a maximum impact that would stretch far beyond our partnership into future. To celebrate the launch, increase awareness and to kick start the fundraising year, Permanent TSB launched a campaign that saw the Bank donate €1 to the Staff Charities Fund for every transaction made (via SSBM and Teller) in Grafton Street

over a week long period. Throughout the partnership, the Bank contributed more than €120,000 in funding to support the incredible work of the charity and provided nearly 500 volunteer hours on the ground, equating to more than €11,000 of in-kind giving.

HANDS-ON HELPING One of the highlights of our partnership was an impact day we held for our CEO, Executive Committee and Senior Leadership Team on the grounds of Barretstown in Kildare. As part of the day, our Senior Leaders spent the day volunteering to get the camp ready for summer campers, engaging in gardening activity, planting trees, meeting the team and learning more about the incredible work of the programme. Kevin Dempsey, Corporate Fundraising Manager, Barretstown, says, “Staff at all levels have also donated their time to volunteer at Barretstown, some have become regular

and valued camp volunteers, helping to bring the magic directly to our campers. Others have helped at our various open days and events and through our unique site enhancement programme which allows organisations to help us get our facilities in pristine condition for the arrival of campers.” The Bank will continue to support Barretstown through its Employee Volunteering Programme - volunteering at Barretstown Summer Camps and continuing to contribute to the charity’s Site Enhancement Programme.



From Plant to Patient Horizon Therapeutics employees created an inspiring STEAM curriculum for its volunteers to deliver at primary school level, demonstrating the relationship between plants and medicine


t Horizon, we know our responsibility goes beyond our patient communities to the communities where we live and work. We work hand in hand with the community, placing special emphasis on endeavours that fall within our four pillars of giving: healthcare, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), environmental sustainability and innovation. In particular, Horizon is committed to increasing access to STEAM education for young students to ensure that the next generation has the technical skills and entrepreneurial spirit necessary to thrive as they enter the workforce. Horizon also has a keen eye towards helping to ensure that all young students, including those from marginalised communities, have access to the training and development they will need to actively participate in and benefit from the innovation economy.


DEVELOPING A CURRICULUM In 2018, Horizon Therapeutics developed an original curriculum “From Plant to Patient” for delivery at a DEIS school, St. Christopher’s Primary (formerly St. Brigid’s Primary). As a DEIS school, St. Christopher’s Primary in Dublin accommodates families from all economic backgrounds and areas of the community. In developing and teaching an original STEAM curriculum (“From Plant to Patient”) at St. Christopher’s, Horizon hopes students that are often otherwise excluded from innovative programs will have the opportunity to develop their skills, gain exposure to new careers and feel encouraged in pursuing STEAM education. Zoe

Jones, Facilities and Office Manager at Horizon Therapeutics says, “ The focus was clear from day one around the school CSR programme. It is a testament to the enthusiasm of our colleagues and the culture within Horizon.” Students from fifth class were identified as the most appropriate participants as they will soon be moving on to secondary school. It was determined that targeting these students with the curriculum would present the opportune time to increase students’ interest in STEAM. Horizon employees took the directive from the school and created – from scratch - the “From Plant to Patient” curriculum, which they deliver at St Christopher’s, with an emphasis on practical application.



Michelle Ryan, Director, Strategic Procurement, Manufacturing and Supply Chain notes, “Like all good teaching exercises, preparation was the key. We engaged with the school and teachers early in the process in order to pitch the modules at the correct level.”

FROM PLANT TO PATIENT “From Plant to Patient,” not only teaches students age-appropriate skills, but also engages students through application with industryrelated cases. The intention of the curriculum is to build a mental bridge for students on the relationship that exists between the environment (plants) and the medicines we take to stay healthy and strong. One effective tool for sparking interest in STEAM is to tap in to students’ curiosity. The curriculum is intended to tap into children’s curiosity by explaining the full life cycle of medicines, from inception to ingestion in patients. Following the educational modules, students present overviews of what they learned through the curriculum. Presentations include posters, digital content and demonstrations of experiments. Students are then presented with personalised certificates. Approximately 100 students

participate in the “From Plant to Patient” curriculum annually. Following the 2019 course, Horizon gathered feedback from teachers to gauge impact on students. Horizon also held internal debriefing sessions to discuss the feedback and refine the curriculum for 2020. Feedback from the teachers and students has been overwhelmingly positive, with appreciation conveyed for the new knowledge and unique delivery of the curriculum by involved professionals directly to students.

INNOVATION AND PARTNERSHIP Horizon has exemplified that companies don’t need to exceed a revenue threshold to implement and champion socially responsible change. Even with a modest CSR budget, employees can drive community partnerships to ethically feed the needs of the community and the business. The curriculum was developed entirely by employees, and can now continue to be taught by future cohorts of Horizon volunteers. Ciara O’Driscoll, Associate Director, Manufacturing & Technology Operations, Manufacturing Biologics, was one of the Horizon Therapeutics employees involved in delivering the

curriculum and said of it: “This was an amazing experience, and so fulfilling at a personal level. It was such fun to be back in a classroom and the pupils were so attentive. The future of science is in good hands” Just as Horizon is committed to effectively enabling positive social change, it is equally committed to capturing and measuring its outcomes. Horizon will work with the administration of St. Christopher’s to track the impact of the curriculum on the students and iterate to further improve its effectiveness. It is important to us to continually make sure the information is being delivered in a way that engages and informs students and inspires them to continue their interest in STEAM subjects as they move through second and third level education.


Sinead Crowley

Zoe Jones

Ciara O’Driscoll

Niamh McArdle

Maura Ryan

Michelle Ryan



Fuelling Ireland’s Future SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, focuses on fuelling a brighter future for all, while developing an ongoing partnership with Mountjoy Prison Progression Unit


OLAS is the Further Education and Training authority tasked with building a world class Further Education and Training (FET) sector to fuel Ireland’s future. As a state agency, SOLAS recognises that it has a Corporate Social Responsibility in relation to issues of increasing importance: the people we employ and do business with, the community we interact with, and the planet we live on. As a result, SOLAS has identified three pillars of our Corporate Social Responsibility: Our Workplace; Our Community; Our Planet. SOLAS strives to be a progressive dynamic employer, which means actively seeking to improve the working lives of our employees. The SOLAS Workplace Choir is just one example of the many great initiatives set up initially to promote workplace wellbeing under our CSR strategy, but has since grown in significance and impact to encompass community outreach. In April 2019, SOLAS held the first ever TEDx event in an Irish prison, focusing on reintegrating ex-offenders into society. The SOLAS workplace choir and Mountjoy Prison Inhouse Voices Choir came together to perform at the event. Following the successful performance, SOLAS developed an ongoing partnership with Mountjoy Prison Progression Unit. The aim of the TEDxMountjoy Prison event was to highlight the important role of education in rehabilitation and to discuss the supports ex-offenders need to successfully reintegrate into society


SOLAS presents Dublin Simon Community with cheque for €15,000 from proceeds of charity album “Jingle Jangle” by SOLAS Workplace Choir and Mountjoy Prison Inhouse Voices Choir. Pictured L-R Andrew Brownlee CEO SOLAS; Sam McGuinness CEO Dublin Simon Community; Gay O’Connor, SOLAS; Eddie Mullins, Governor Mountjoy Prison. after their release. Prisoners, senior policymakers, politicians, activists, education-providers and employers attended the event. As a result, SOLAS partnered with IBEC to work with employers on supporting ex-offenders into employment upon release. SOLAS’s partnership with the Progression Unit has created a positive space where prisoners can work on their own personal growth and development. Following the TEDxMountjoy event, the choirs have continued to collaborate and before Christmas 2019 produced a joint album to raise funds for the Dublin Simon Community, who work to prevent

and address homelessness. The ‘Jingle Jangle’ album was a huge success, raising €15,000, which was donated to Dublin Simon Community in January 2020. What began as a wellbeing activity for SOLAS employees has transformed into a truly powerful and impactful partnership with a strong community outreach quotient. The developmental relationship between the Mountjoy Prison Progression Unit and SOLAS staff members has acted as a conduit for productive contribution to society through activities such as the album collaboration, in raising important funds for a homelessness charity, and in working to assist exoffenders to reintegrate into society.


Fidelity Cares: A New Focus on CSR A new focused CSR strategy increased employee engagement with volunteering and green initiatives at Fidelity Investments Ireland


n 2019, Fidelity Ireland delivered a new multi-faceted CSR strategy focused on engaging our employees and empowering them to give back to the communities in which we live and work. The communications strategy to support this program focused on two key strategic themes: STEM education and employability initiatives under the banner of #PayingITForward; and community volunteering, under the banner of #FidelityCares2019. Mobilising employee advocacy was central to our empowerment strategy. Through a concerted push on communications and employee engagement Fidelity Ireland reached the highest CSR engagement figures on record with a total of 76 volunteering projects and programs, impacting 19 charities and reaching 30 schools and universities. Volunteering opportunities taken up by Fidelity Ireland staff were up 229% year-onyear from 2018, while volunteer hours completed were up by 167% from 2018. The Fidelity Cares program also saw €90,000 reach local communities through fundraising and donations.

GIVING BACK Fidelity Cares, our Giving Back program, engaged with many local charities and schools and leveraged existing relationships with Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI), Junior Achievement and partner charities to assess where Fidelity volunteers could

make the most impact. Educational programs including STEM based programs, coding workshops, career talks and guidance delivered by volunteers reached 1,869 students spanning primary, secondary and university levels across the country. “At Fidelity Ireland, we have found that ensuring CSR objectives and activities are hand-in-glove with our company ethos has meant we continue to see how CSR benefits our community, our associates and the organisation,” says Penny Bryant, Director of Communications and CSR at Fidelity Ireland. During Impact Week, seven charities benefited from Fidelity volunteers donating their time to share their skills and provide solutions to business problems. Some of the groups Fidelity supported throughout the year include the Galway and Dublin Simon Community, Inner City Helping Homeless, Down Syndrome Ireland, St. Michael’s House and Leave no Trace, as well as numerous schools and universities across Dublin and Galway.

GREEN TEAM Green Team in Action 2019 was created to build on the successes of our first ‘Go Green’ year in 2018. A sustainability strategy for Ireland was put in place to ensure we had clear environmental goals throughout operations, to create resource efficiencies, align with enterprise climate change strategy, increase engagement and education about green initiatives and build on

Penny Bryant, Director of Communications and CSR at Fidelity Ireland existing relationships with partners such as BITCI, Leave no Trace and Voice Ireland. Our efforts were also focused on partnering with the CSR team to positively impact our communities. Through the initiative, five large scale clean-up projects were carried out by over 100 Fidelity volunteers across Dublin and Galway. We also worked with the Simon Community to organise goods collections for their shops to encourage people to recycle and reuse items. Go Green Sustainability Training, our online training program focusing on environmental issues and education on resource use and recycling, has thus far been completed by over 700 employees in Ireland.



Legal Action & Community Activation A&L Goodbody use their skills and legal expertise to aid survivors of torture, assist those at risk of home-lessness and engage in educational and employment programmes

STEP UP COMMUNITY PROGRAMME A&L Goodbody is located in the north east inner city area of Dublin which is an area that has been identified as socially disadvantaged. Research shows that underachievement in education and unemployment are two of the largest issues facing the community, which contribute to people feeling socially excluded from society. A&L Goodbody felt as a law firm it had the best skill sets and resources within its organisation to support these areas. A&L Goodbody’s Step Up Community programme supports the community through a number of educational and employment programmes, including work experience for young people and those with intellectual disabilities. The number of employees involved in the Step Up programmes has increased year on year, up from 382 to 430 in 2019. A&L Goodbody employees were involved in literacy and education programmes, skills sharing and fundraising initiatives for community partners. In the last three years, over 120 primary school pupils were supported through the literacy programmes with Suas; 3,060 primary and secondary school pupils participated in 143 Junior Achievement educational programmes; over 270 transition year students participated in the Step In Experience programme. A&L Goodbody has facilitated five Career L.E.A.P. work placements to date and a graduate of the programme has recently joined A&L


Goodbody as a full-time employee. The firm has welcomed five Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID) students for work placements and has also employed a graduate of TCPID fulltime.

SUPPORTING LIFE AFTER TORTURE Spirasi is the national rehabilitation centre for victims of torture in Ireland. A medical legal report (MLR) is an important legal document, submitted as part of a person’s claim for asylum, which can objectively substan-tiate a persons’ experience of torture. MLRs reduce the need for an applicant to relate traumatic experiences or events and they may also explain why a person may have difficulty remembering or in relating events that have happened to them. A&L Goodbody provided training of the production of expert evidence and how this should be document-ed by physicians. In turn the physicians trained A&L Goodbody lawyers on the Istanbul Protocol (UN Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment). The Istanbul Protocol is the first set of international guidelines for documenta-tion of torture and its consequences. The project presented an opportunity to leverage A&L Goodbody’s legal skills to to increase the capacity of Spirasi to support survivors of torture. The introduction of legal re-views, and the attendant

Clair Rooney ALG and Gaurav Ransum ALG at the Career Leap Graduation

Junior Achievement participants with ALG employee

Junior Achievement volunteer celebration at ALG

improvement in quality of the MLRs, means the impact of the charity has been magnified hugely.

SUPPORTING HOUSING RIGHTS Since January 2018 A&L Goodbody has staffed an outreach housing law clinic and provide free legal ad-vice to persons who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The clinic is normally hosted at Focus Ire-land’s coffee shop

SBIA PARTNER PROFILE A&L GOODBODY Roundtable with ALG, Spirasi and Freedom From Torture UK

L-R Rebecca Keatinge, Managing Solicitor Mercy Law Resource Centre, Pat Dennigan CEO Focus Ireland, Eithne Lynch Pro Bono Associate ALG and Julian Yarr, Managing Partner ALG

Candlelight ceremony to mark International Day in Support of Survivors of Torture

Amanda Curneen ALG and Suas volunteer with pupil from Francis St CBS

Pupils participating in the Step In Experience enjoying a day in court

in Temple Bar, but since the arrival of COVID-19 the firm has adapted and continues to provide weekly legal assistance and remote representation. Focus Ireland and Mercy Law have over 50 years’ experience of working to end homelessness. This depth of experience, combined with A&L Goodbody’s legal expertise created a unique partnership. Unlike other models which are limited to advice and information, A&L Goodbody provides end-to-end case work to support an individual out of homelessness as the person or family becomes a client of A&L

Goodbody. These cases can involve representation before the Residential Tenancies Board or appealing refusals of so-cial housing. The project was designed to facilitate a crossfertilisation of skill set. For example, by interact-ing with support workers from Focus Ireland, the solicitors have a greater understanding of the institutional and structural barriers to accessing social housing. Legal analysis by lawyers has assisted with enhanced advocacy by support workers resulting in better outcomes for persons at risk of becoming homeless. The ultimate aim is that


this collaboration will have a positive impact on first-instance decision making by local authorities. In the past year, the firm’s client technology team has designed a free app for Mercy Law Resource Centre. The app will reduce the administrative burden on the law centre and capture critical data on those impacted by the housing crisis. The project is a powerful example of strong collaboration between the corporate and charitable sector. There was 125% increase in legal services through the clinic during the pilot phase and 5,320 free legal hours have been delivered to date by A&L Goodbody solicitors. Casework through the project is tracked and to date 81% of client files have been closed out.



A Force for Good VMware is empowering employees to bring their whole selves to work and be a vocal part of the strategies they develop to make a difference in the community


ower of Difference communities (PODs) are employee-driven groups that enhance VMware’s inclusive culture and harness the power of human difference. We have PODs for site specific locations as well as Pods designed to strengthen networks for women and underrepresented groups. PODs are open to anyone in the company and designed to help participants grow as leaders, engage with different communities, and drive business impact. Last year, our VMinclusion Cork POD employee resource group (ERG), which already included Gender, Pride and Culture Pillars launched our


Resilience & Disability Program/Pillar to focus on Mental Health awareness and Disability Inclusion ensuring VMware is accessible and all employees feel supported bringing their whole authentic selves to work.

MENTAL HEALTH Mental Health awareness is a major part of our local ERG and is also addressed globally. We aim to break down stigma associated with mental health in the workplace to create an open and inclusive environment where employees feel safe and supported discussing any concerns with other colleagues/managers. Our goal is that they feel comfortable taking part in and availing of the

initiatives and programs designed toassist them. We plan events, programs and training to align to our goals and make sure that current and future employeesget maximum value through these. Over the past year So employees received SafeTalk training, which prepares participants to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources. Our activities include mindfulness and meditation sessions, ocean swimming, and speaker events and programs relating to Mental Health and Disability. Mental Health First Aid training was undertaken by 20 employees who continually support


their colleagues. Throughout the current pandemic we have moved all our events virtual and have held various events around remote working, mindfulness and resilience building.

DISABILITY AWARENESS We hold monthly Connect Cafes and Think Differently speaker events. These events bring employees together in small groups to increase awareness, broaden perspectives and educate on disability and mental health topics. They also facilitate new connections. As well as this, 10 employees worked with students from the UCC Disability Mentorship Program and acted as mentors throughout the last college year, and 30 employees have now gone through training in Disability Awareness. Based on the success of these programs we are delighted to be taking part again this year. VMware were one of the initial participants in UCC’s Employability Forum and hosted the second event where employers came together to create and share best practice on building a disability inclusive organisation. With our partnership with UCC Disability Support Service Mentorship program, we want to continue to support the creation of crucial employability skills helping students in the local economy make a more successful transitions from college to the workplace.

SERVE. LEARN. INSPIRE In planning our 2019 strategy we engaged with our stakeholders to brainstorm ways to improve how we serve our communities. We decided

to focus on helping our colleagues complete the 40 “Service Learning” hours granted to each VMware employee. We then set out to develop our Serve.Learn.Inspire Campaign, to find better ways to serve our colleagues and communities through volunteering. Key to the strategy was to learn from our Non-Profits and take on some of their burden, while also inspiring people to make positive impacts on the community. We identified many needs in the community ranging from handson volunteering with the likes of Ballincollig Tidy Towns and the Cope Foundation, to providing technical support to Cork ARC Cancer support house. We learned from FoodCloud the significant work involved in setting up ad hoc volunteering activities which take staff away from their core activities. So, we took the decision

to block book every Tuesday in 2019 for our volunteers and take ownership of recruiting the volunteers, lessening the administrative burden on FoodCloud. Seeing this success, we expanded it to other partnerships including but not limited to SVP, Cork Simon, and Irish Guide Dogs. In 2019, we set ourselves a goal of a 25% increase in colleagues completing their 40 hours and we actually had 103 colleagues completing over 40 hours in 2019, up from 52 in 2018, a 98% increase. Every employee who completes their 40 hours is given a grant of $1,000 to direct to their charity of choice. These grants, along with our regular matching gifts, milestone awards and annual Christmas Gift of Giving campaign which has seen our collective impact triple from the previous year.

VIRTUALLY TOGETHER We have been working hard to make the transition to working from home as smooth as possible throughout this current crisis, for both our employees and our community. Culture, Community and being a force for good have always been key to VMware Ireland and through the efforts of many groups across the site, we have been able celebrate our great community virtually while working apart. If you would like to find out more about life at VMware you can visit careers.vmware.com



Exemplary Environmentalists With a commitment to “Do More”, AIB’s Energy and Environmental Team are driving meaningful change across the banking group’s activities, locations and employees


ustainable Communities is the fifth pillar of AIB’s refreshed group strategy and is reflective of the work the bank is doing to ensure that we have a climate resilient and responsive business. This means both continuing to focus on improving our own impact on the climate as well as providing the finance to support our customers as we transition to low carbon economies. AIB is addressing the issues of access to finance (establishing a €5bn Climate Fund for climate related and green products over the next five years), stimulating demand to meet Ireland’s climate action goals (by continuing to invest in SRI and Green Bonds and providing finance for energy efficient homes through a Green Mortgage, supporting initiatives to aid carbon transition like Teagasc Grass10). Furthermore, AIB became a founding signatory of the UNEP-FI


Principles for Responsible Banking. Led by our CEO Colin Hunt, AIB recognised that the financial sector was not doing enough to truly address environmental issues and tackle climate change. That’s why AIB committed to “Do More” and climate change considerations are integrated across all our decision making. AIB’s COO is the sponsor of our Environmental and Energy Management Systems and the team have full support to implement a whole new range of innovative and meaningful solutions that will enable AIB to lessen its environmental impact.

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT AIB’s Energy and Environmental Plan is a key component of AIB’s fifth pillar and is designed to minimise the environmental impact of our estate and our own carbon footprint. The plan will deliver deliver a truly valuable cultural change that will have

a sustainable impact for many years to come, so AIB’s positive contribution to protecting Ireland’s environment is a lasting one. “AIB’s commitment to embedding best in class environmental practises along with the engagement of all of our staff have allowed AIB to become a leader in business environmental sustainability,” says Karen Coyle, Head of Energy, Environment, Health & Safety at AIB Group. AIB has an Energy and Environmental (E&E) Team tasked with the objectives of improving energy efficiency, reducing its environmental impact and lowering its carbon emissions. The team uses international management standards, ISO 50001 (Energy) & ISO 14001 (Environment), as a foundation for its E&E plan. Having implemented both systems across all AIB locations, the objectives and targets are agreed on an annual basis and monitored regularly. The



To reduce our carbon emission intensity by 50% by 2030*















4,474 AIB’s total carbon footprint in 2018 was 34,831 tonnes of CO2


DOWN**20% SINCE 2014


The average footprint per AIB employee

* against a 2014 baseline **Scope 1 and 2 emissions




The above listed emissions exclude ‘well-to-tank’ emissions. These are the upstream emissions associated with extracting, refining and transporting fuel/energy to the end-user. Total Well-to-tank emissions are 6,122 tonnes of CO2.



Since 2014, we’ve saved 3,541,617KWH


team works in close collaboration with teams across AIB.

ENERGY AWARENESS In 2019 we developed a pioneering digital learning “Energy & Environmental” programme, which is underpinning employee engagement, and driving a sustainable, widespread behavioral change, helping our people make holistic changes that benefit their whole lives and the environment. It is not a mandatory course, yet over 50% of employees enrolled within just two months, and numbers continued to grow exponentially as staff who find the course both illuminating and enjoyable recommend it to colleagues. AIB is continually reviewing its operations and looking to make changes where required to reduce its carbon footprint and improve its energy efficiency. AIB reports annually to CDP on its actions to tackle climate change, and has achieved Leadership status for the past four years. We are achieving carbon and energy reductions with LED lighting upgrades in our branch network and sourcing green gas in our locations in Great Britain (which has reduced AIB’s market carbon emissions by

over 117 tonnes of CO2 annually). An opportunity was identified to upgrade the existing lighting installation in a series of branches. The project started in 2019 in AIB South Mall and the upgrades will realise estimated savings in of over 142,813 kWh per annum.

WASTE PREVENTION Since the implementation of our waste strategy, AIB has eliminated 11.5 million plastic containers from our waste streams and, in 2019, AIB prevented the generation of 283 tonnes of waste in our Head Offices, reducing our waste per employee by 33%. But, each type of single-use material presents different pressures on the natural environment. That’s why in 2019, AIB took a step further and trialled a return scheme for all takeaway containers in Molesworth St HQ. Compostable single-use disposables were eliminated and replaced by reusable containers made from repurposed materials like coffee and

rice husk, preventing 3.3 tonnes of waste annually and reducing 58% of its catering procurement costs. As part of AIB’s long term waste strategy, in 2020, AIB will make the switch to “reusables” across all of its restaurants, preventing the annual generation of a further 23 tonnes of waste. Commenting on the impact of the initiatives Coyle says, “We have reduced our carbon emissions by 57% over the last 10 years. Our new headquarters is LEED Platinum certified and we were one of the first businesses in Ireland to eliminate paper and plastic cups. We will continue to be an exemplar company in this area supporting our Sustainable communities strategy.”



AIB and FoodCloud: Eliminating Food Waste AIB’s transformative partnership with food redistribution charity FoodCloud tackles both hunger and climate change by helping to eliminate food waste


ince AIB began working with FoodCloud in 2018, its employees have volunteered over 7,000 hours with the food redistribution charity. The volunteers are integral to the daily running of the three FoodCloud Hubs in Dublin, Cork and Galway. In their first five years, between 2013 and 2017, FoodCloud redistributed 25 million meals. In just two years, with the support of AIB, they have redistributed more than 50 million additional meals to their charity network of more than 180,000 individuals. In total, to date more than 4,100 tonnes of surplus food has been redistributed to charities and community groups thanks to the AIB programme. That’s the equivalent of approximately 10 million meals and more than 13,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent avoided. Through their food redistribution solutions, FoodCloud reaches more


than 180,000 people in more than 800 charities across Ireland, many of which AIB already has an established relationship with at local level. Iseult Ward, co-founder and CEO of FoodCloud, says, “We could not do what we do without the ongoing commitment and support from AIB. In addition to funding, more than 1,000 AIB volunteers have donated their time providing more than 7,000 hours to support FoodCloud in ensuring good food reaches communities all over Ireland.” FoodCloud’s ethos and goals resonate not only with the CSR and sustainability aims of the Bank, but also with its employees; the 1,000 AIB staff who have volunteered with the social enterprise represent over 10% of the total staff of the Group. AIB volunteers support FoodCloud across a variety of roles, from sorting and packing surplus orders, helping to hand deliver food to the doors

of charities and community groups, and fulfilling orders for the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) Programme, which provides more than 151,000 individuals across the country with food packs. Since 2018, the FoodCloud and AIB Corporate Volunteering Programme has contributed to packing 475 tonnes of food for FEAD.

SKILLED VOLUNTEERING There has also been skilled volunteering with FoodCloud in areas such as financial modelling, web development and social media strategies, giving FoodCloud innovative ideas and strategic insights to support them into the future. Volunteers also participate in FoodCloud’s Gleaning Programme, an innovative farm-level solution that collects crops left behind on the field after harvest. FoodCloud’s technology provides an innovative solution that


is having a transformative impact on food waste and food security globally by complementing and enhancing the traditional food bank model. Their warehouse solution has three Irish Hubs in Dublin, Cork and Galway that redistribute large quantities of surplus food from the supply chain to Community Groups all across the country. Both of FoodCloud’s solutions provide an environmentally-sensitive, socially-responsible, and economicallyviable alternative to throwing away perfectly good food. Not only are FoodCloud are making a real impact

on the UN Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger, but reducing food waste is also one of the biggest actions that people can take to effectively fight climate change.

CONTINUING PARTNERSHIP FoodCloud provides approximately 50 volunteer opportunities for AIB employees each week, who contribute on average 350 hours across their three Hubs— each AIB employee is entitled to two volunteering days per year and employees can volunteer with their chosen charity. AIB hopes

to continue to expand the volunteer program to facilitate large scale seasonal volunteer opportunities such as the new innovative agri-waste solution ‘gleaning’ and community cooking projects, which will be crucial for increased community engagement and continuing to provide innovative solutions to food waste in Ireland. Ward says, “Our multi-year partnership with AIB has had a transformative impact on FoodCloud. Not only does the partnership highlight AIB’s ongoing commitment to sustainable communities and a lower carbon future, but it allows FoodCloud to continue to support our network of Community Groups across the country.” The partnership will continue to have an impact on communities most in need, through supporting various charities and organisations, as well as the clear environmental benefit of reducing food waste and redistribute this to those most in need.



AIB’s Vulnerable Customer Programme AIB’s Vulnerable Customer Programme aims to take exceptional care of customers when they need it most and to foster a culture of inclusion

Barry Aherne, Branch Manager, AIB Grafton Street; Maeve Monaghan, Chief Executive, NOW Group; Andrew Herd, NOW Group Ambassador and Mark Doyle, Chief Marketing Officer, AIB


IB’s Vulnerable Customer Programme was established in 2018 to develop supports for customers in vulnerable circumstances. The programme is built on the experiences of staff who support customers every day and runs through everything the Bank does, from product development to customer service. It looks at supporting customers through a range of issues, focused on key areas including Financial Abuse, Addiction, Dementia, Mental Health, Accessibility


and Economic Resilience. The objective of the programme is to take exceptional care of customers when they need us it most and to foster a culture of inclusion and support for vulnerable customers in everything the Bank does. “Our Vulnerable Customer Support Team provides advice to everybody across the organisation and deals with the most complex of cases—things like Dementia, which can be really hard for families to deal with,” explained Ciara Drain, Head of AIB’s Vulnerable Customer Programme.

“We have built up fantastic relationships with the HSE, Sage Advocacy and the Community Guards. Particularly during lockdown, the Community Guards called out to a number of cocooning customers who needed a hand. The support that is out there is incredible, you just have to ask sometimes.” “What the support team does is just the tip of the iceberg, the most complex cases,” says Drain. “Support runs throughout the organisation.” To facilitate and enable frontline staff, a new system has recently been


Ciara Drain, Head of AIB’s Vulnerable Customer Programme

introduced to record when a customer needs additional support. “This means we can be aware of the support our customers need every time we serve them.”

KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR “All you need to do to come across vulnerability is to have interactions with people. Training and awareness is huge for us. People need to know where to go within our organisation to get support.” Staff across the bank complete e-learning on Dementia, mental health, safeguarding and gambling. “So far in our organisation this year we have around 8,000 hours of e-learning completed. Around 300 of our staff who help customers who are in arrears went through HSE safeTALK suicide awareness training last year.” Drain says that UK research shows 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men will experience financial abuse at some point in their lives. “Most of the financial abuse cases that we deal with relate to elder abuse, which can be easier to spot. If someone is coming into a branch with them and it’s clear that the other person is in charge, we pick up on that.” A more hidden form of financial abuse is domestic abuse occurring within relationships. To highlight the issue the bank launched an awareness campaign with Women’s Aid, called the Abusive Teller Machine, where they filmed an ATM which was programmed

with the kind of controlling questions all too common in financially abusive relationships. As customers attempted to withdraw money the questions became increasingly intrusive and intimidating before the reason for their experience was revealed to the customer.

JUST A MINUTE AIB is a JAM Card Friendly organisation. Developed by the Now Group, a Belfast-based social enterprise supporting people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs, the JAM Card lets you know that the customer needs ‘Just a Minute’. The customer can hold up the card to let the teller know that they need some extra time. “What the Now Group find is that wherever a company has engaged and has been trained with them, the people they support don’t even need to show the card, because the behaviour is already there,” says Drain. “If you listen properly to a customer, sometimes a little bit of support is all they need. But sometimes the cases can be so incredibly complex and we have our escalation paths for that—our legal,

fraud and operations teams all coming together. A lot of the time what our support team does is get those people together and gather all the expertise.”

CULTURE OF CARE “As an industry there has been a real push from the UK, Australia and Canada. A few years ago the language around vulnerability started to evolve; there was a realisation that financial institutions are important in a person’s life. When things go wrong, how your financial institution treats you can mean the difference between being independent or not.” “When we started doing research, a few years ago, into what we needed to do, we found there was already an incredible culture of care, but what we needed to put in place were the supports and escalation paths. There was a demand from frontline staff to have the ability to react to customers’ needs, because they are seeing the issues every day, it’s not an unusual thing. If we were starting off trying to build a culture of care it would be a real challenge, but the culture is there and we get incredible buy-in from our staff for every initiative we run.”



A Tradition of Philanthropy Staff at Arthur Cox continue the tradition of the firm’s founder, who combined a career in law with charitable works.


“ ABOVE: Arthur Cox Zambia Project;

ABOVE & BELOW: Partnership with the Early Learning Initiative

BELOW: Partnership with the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland


ur Sustainable Business Programme continues to go from strength to strength. We are delighted that three of our CSR and Pro Bono initiatives are shortlisted this year. Our people are central to the development of all of these projects. As a firm we have a very long tradition of philanthropy from our beginnings 100 years ago this year,” says Geoff Moore, Managing Partner at Arthur Cox. “A key element of our values and of our business strategy is and has been to give back to the community. We firmly believe that as well as being the right thing to do, it makes business sense,” continues Moore.

ZAMBIA PROJECT The Arthur Cox Zambia Project was set up as a volunteer programme by a group of the firm’s trainees in 2008. It was designed to raise the standards of living in the most rural regions of Zambia by supporting sustainable agricultural, health and educational infrastructure, hand in hand with local communities. The inspiration for the project was the firm’s founder, Arthur Cox himself, a philanthropist, who upon finishing his career in law in the 1960s moved to Zambia to work on the missions. Since 2008, over 200 volunteer trainees from Arthur Cox have travelled to Zambia and raised almost €600,000 to fund the project’s activities, including renovating a medical centre, building rural radio schools, delivering sanitary products to female students and pioneering a ricegrowing project.

OPENING DOORS INITIATIVE Arthur Cox has partnered with the Early Learning Initiative (ELI) at the National College of Ireland on the Opening Doors project since October 2017. It began as a Restorative Practice pilot programme in collaboration with Belvedere Youth Club, an organisation that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Inner City. The firm has a dedicated group of volunteers who meet with the young people every week over a period of six weeks, opening up the young people’s eyes to opportunities in the corporate world they may not have realised would be possible for them. The impact of positive male influences on young boys participating in the programme has been noticeably beneficial.

MIGRANT RIGHTS CENTRE IRELAND Arthur Cox works with the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) providing pro bono work to help vulnerable and disadvantaged people access legal assistance and information, and also providing legal training to the MRCI’s staff to enable them to provide the best services to the most vulnerable in society. With immigrants comprising 12.47% of the Irish population, and frequently concentrated in low-paid employment sectors, assistance with employment law rights to fight against exploitation is an important area of Arthur Cox’s activity. The project has had a tangible impact on the lives of migrants whose cases have been progressed after receiving a referral from the MRCI. These referrals have enabled migrants to fight for their rights in situations where they would not otherwise have had access to justice.


Rising to the Challenge of Climate Change and Improving Sustainability As the guardian of Ireland’s water supply, Irish Water is taking a proactive approach to sustainability across all its operations, including improving energy efficiency and enhancing biodiversity.


ater is one of the most essential substances on earth, critical for human health, the production of food and for industrial activity. The provision of clean drinking water and a reliable wastewater service, in a manner that protects the natural environment, is critical to a country’s economic and social development. Irish Water is Ireland’s national water utility responsible for providing water and wastewater services

throughout the country. Irish Water supplies drinking water to approximately 80% of the public (3.3m people), the equivalent of approximately 1,670 million litres of drinking water each day. It collects wastewater from over 1,000 separate communities and treats 1,600 million litres of wastewater daily, before discharging it back into rivers, estuaries and coastal areas. “Our mission is to ensure that all of our customers receive a safe, reliable and sustainable supply of drinking water and have their wastewater

collected and safely returned to the environment,” says Niall Gleeson, Managing Director of Irish Water. “As outlined in our Water Services Strategic Plan, we are committed to protecting the environment in all our activities and support Ireland’s social and economic growth through appropriate investment in Water Services,” says Sean Laffey, Head of Asset Management at Irish Water. “Our ability to take drinking water from the environment, and return treated wastewater to the environment, requires a healthy and



sustainable functioning ecosystem, fundamentally supported by a diversity of plant and animal life.” Irish Water, as the guardian of Ireland’s water and wastewater assets, with a dedicated sustainability team, is integrating and embedding sustainability and sustainable development into everything it does.

UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS “We are passionate about improving the sustainability of water services and playing our part in building a more sustainable future,” notes Gleeson. “Irish Water are implementing policies and strategies through our strategic business plan to support sustainability aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), taking a proactive approach to sustainability across our water and wastewater assets.” Water is subject to an individual goal within the SDGs framework— SDG 6: “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”, yet all SDGs are interconnected, and SDG 6 is pivotal to achieving other goals. Irish Water’s performance under SDG 6 influences national progress and development at a systemic level, ultimately affecting individual wellbeing.

Niall Gleeson, Managing Director, Irish Water energy retrofits, renewable energy, lighting and heating, energy audits and planning, process optimisation, staff awareness and training. “In 2019, we achieved a 30% improvement in our energy efficiency performance with a corresponding saving of over 75,000 tonnes of carbon. We are track to meet our target of 33% energy efficiency improvement, putting us in a strong position to meet our new target of 50% by 2030,” says Laffey. “Our significant improvements in energy efficiency delinks our energy use from our carbon emissions. We are at the forefront in installing renewable energy sources, providing a low carbon, renewable and secure energy supply for our assets.”

CLIMATE ACTION “Energy efficiency improvement is a key mitigation measure of our climate change policy to help ensure water and wastewater services are resilient to climate change, developing a low greenhouse gas emitting water and wastewater service,” says Charlie Coakley, Sustainability Policy Lead with Irish Water. Irish Water have made significant progress on the journey to become a low carbon, energy efficient, sustainable water utility. Its strategy and energy management programme takes a business wide approach with 36 Energy Action Plans and 255 discrete energy projects, including energy efficient design, innovation,


ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHTING Irish Water recently completed an energy efficiency lighting retrofit programme at a number of plants. As part of this programme, the inefficient lighting systems at the Leixlip, Ballymore Eustace, Swords, Malahide and Navan plants have been upgraded to more energy efficient lighting systems. At the core of this innovative programme is the objective of improving energy efficiency, which is a key sustainability measure for reducing Irish Water’s carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. The delivery of this programme was completed in collaboration with our local authority

partners in Dublin City Council, Fingal, Meath and Kildare. Upgrades included replacing the inefficient fluorescent lights and metal halide floodlights with more efficient LED lighting fixtures and smart lighting control features.

SOLAR POWER PROJECTS June 2019 saw the construction of two Photovoltaic (PV) solar power projects at wastewater treatment plants in Nenagh. Co. Tipperary and Newcastle West, Co. Limerick. The installations were completed in collaboration with local authority partners in Tipperary and Limerick. “In Irish Water we’re passionate about improving the sustainability of water services and playing our part in building a more sustainable future,” says Coakley. “This project for us is an important commitment in reducing our carbon footprint and an important step on our journey to become a low carbon sustainable water utility.” The renewable energy pilots are among the first in Ireland, providing clean, sustainable electricity to the plants, while also reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with water services. Irish Water’s plans to move towards carbon neutrality includes further development of renewable energy


Representatives of Irish Water and Tipperary County Council at the Nenagh Wastewater Treatment Plant.

sources across 20 sites.

SLUDGES AND THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY “As part of our National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan (NWSMP) we ensure that treated wastewater sludge across the country is effectively managed, stored, transported and re-used or disposed of in a sustainable way, to the benefit of the public and the environment we all live in,” says Laffey. “We are progressing a number of initiatives through the water treatment plant (WTP) residual strategy taking a circular economy model for the management of our sludges, as they provide a sustainable source of precious finite materials. “The sludge provides an alternative/ complement to current raw materials being used. We view water sludge as a valuable resource particularly in the context of the circular economy

model. This model is in direct contrast to the current linear model of ‘take, make, consume, dispose’, with landfill being the primary end point. We are progressing a number of potential sustainable options. Recovery/reuse of the sludge is the preferred long-term sustainable option for Irish Water.” In 2019, pilots conducted over two years, aimed at using drinking water sludge as a raw material came to fruition, as all of Leixlip’s WTP sludge, was diverted from landfill for use in cement manufacturing, displacing imported bauxite and other raw materials. “We are also developing naturebased solutions across where applicable, such as installing innovative sustainable, low-carbon, sludge reed beds giving biodiversity and habitat benefits,” adds Coakley. “Working in partnership with Carlow County Council, we completed works to install Sludge Drying Reed Beds (SDRB) at five wastewater treatment plants in Co. Carlow, and intend to develop reed beds at a further 40 sites.”

BIODIVERSITY PROGRAMMES Protection of the ecosystems in which we live and work is fundamental to Irish Water’s business. Irish Water

manages infrastructure that is located within a range of habitats including species-rich grassland, woodland, scrub and wetlands. Its infrastructure interacts directly with freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats through abstraction of water or discharge of wastewater. Irish Water are currently developing a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) which will help to conserve, enhance and work with the natural environment. This approach will protect and enhance biodiversity at Irish Water sites whilst also providing additional benefits such as carbon sequestration and drinking water source protection. Irish Water has implemented Biodiversity Management Plans & Enhancement Measures for 85 sites nationally. “All of our sites, projects and activities interact with the ecosystems in which they are located. For example, allowing natural wetland or riverside vegetation to flourish may reduce the risk of flooding, while effectively managing invasive species reduces potential damage to infrastructure and also reduces health risks,” says Coakley.

ENGAGEMENT AND EDUCATION Irish Water are proud to support a number of environmental education initiatives and regularly engage with the wider community on a number of educational programmes to increase environmental awareness including: Green Schools, Clean Coasts, Science Week and the Water Stewardship Training Programme. “We are in a strong position to rise to the challenge of climate breakdown and the biodiversity emergency, leading by example, enshrining sustainability in our business ethos,” says Gleeson. “We all have a part to play in improving the sustainability and resilience of both our business and wider society, contributing to national targets, to become true leaders in sustainability for the benefit of all.”



Intel Ireland – Making an Impact Intel continually look for ways to creative a positive impact in the communities where we live and work, while serving as a role model for how companies should operate


s a technology industry innovator and a leader in corporate responsibility, Intel continually look for ways to creative a positive impact in the communities where we live and work, while serving as a role model for how companies should operate.

ENVIRONMENTAL EXCELLENCE Intel Ireland is committed to being a leader in environmental sustainability and has demonstrated this commitment to the environment since first establishing operations in Leixlip, Co. Kildare in 1989. Intel Ireland is at the forefront of sustainable plant operations across Intel worldwide, voluntarily investing more than €58 million in energy conservation projects at our Leixlip site over the past 8 years and taking a number of steps to drive environmental leadership. Since 2016, 100% of all electricity supplied to our Leixlip campus is generated from indigenous renewable sources, making Intel one of the largest voluntary, private purchasers of renewable energy in Ireland. Reduction activities over the last eight years alone have resulted in over 320,000 tonnes of carbon saved, equivalent to over 22,000 cars taken on the road. These reduction activities cover a diverse range of activities, for example, we are well on the way to changing all of the many thousand light fixtures in our manufacturing buildings


in Leixlip, moving from fluorescent units to a much more energy efficient LED solution that uses a significantly lower amount of power. Intel also works closely with local communities to implement environmental initiatives. One such initiative is the Solar for Schools program which Intel Ireland launched in 2017 to provide Solar PV technology to schools located close to its Leixlip campus. Since the initiative began, a total of 178 panels have been installed and enable the schools to generate their own energy rather than draw down from the grid. Every year, these panels generate a total of 54,000 units of electricity.

SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES In the past 3 years Intel Ireland have donated over €1 million to charities here in Ireland through the likes of

annual signature charity partnerships, work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Ireland (SVP), and more recently by working together with The Community Foundation for Ireland on COVID-19 relief efforts. In 2015 Intel launched the Pride of Place Competition which seeks to enrich the lives of people in Intel’s neighbouring communities of Leixlip, Celbridge and Maynooth by supporting projects that improve local organisations while also benefitting the wider community. Organisations from the eligible areas are invited to submit an idea for a community project with a number of these projects selected to receive funding each year. Since the Pride of Place competition began, some 50 community projects have been supported with over €200,000 of funding.


Skills Sharing for Societal Benefit A focus on skills-sharing between charity partners KBC Bank and The Alzheimers Society Ireland has helped KBC employees to support customers living with dementia

to bring about long term changes with both organisations. In order to do do this, the Bank focused in on professional skills sharing.



BC Bank Ireland partnered with The Alzheimer’s Society Ireland (ASI), over a three-year period. The ASI is the national leader in understanding and providing dementia-specific supports and services, for the 55,000 people who have dementia right across the country. With a national network of over 120 specialist services, 900 staff and 300 volunteers, each year they provide almost 900,000 hours of community-based, dementia-specific care throughout Ireland.

The ASI and KBC partnership evolved over time from a focus on fundraising to genuine, mutual and lasting benefits for both KBC and The ASI. A lot was achieved during the partnership; raising over €330,000 which was used to fund over 100 outings of the ASI mobile information unit, android tablets for all ASI Day Care Centres (with over 2,000 clients and staff benefitting from this) and four Tap to Donate terminals purchased to facilitate donations in an increasingly cashless society. In addition, KBC and The ASI delivered a high impact programme

Both organisations worked together to identify areas where they could learn from one another while helping to grow and expand their operations. Customer facing staff in KBC attended Dementia Friendly training delivered by The ASI and KBC now has representatives across the bank that support vulnerable customers who might be living with dementia, and their families. Similarly, after attending KBC training on social media, The ASI team now have the inhouse knowledge and skills to deliver an effective social media campaign that will increase awareness levels for them. After working with KBC to deliver an engaging social campaign for Ribbon Day in 2019, The ASI now have the framework in place to run similar campaigns on an annual basis. By focusing on skills sharing in 2019, both organisations have brought about long-term changes to their operations that will serve them well into the future and enable them to better support key stakeholders and society in general. The relationship has evolved year on year and matured into a partnership with equal and mutual benefits for both organisations, capturing the essence of a truly effective charity partnership programme.



Supporting Children’s Health and Wellbeing Applegreen’s partnerships with Focus Ireland and the Irish Youth Foundation directly address issues that impact the health and wellbeing of children and young people


s an Irish company with stores nationwide, we aim to give back to our local communities in which we operate. At the core of Applegreen’s CSR strategy is to support the health and wellbeing of children, as the projects outlined here address.

FOCUS IRELAND YOUTH SERVICES The primary objectives of Applegreen’s project with Focus Ireland was to raise funds for Focus Ireland’s Youth Services and to raise awareness of their Youth Services and the issue of Youth Homelessness in Ireland. Youth Services are a core function of Focus Ireland’s organisation, acting as both a service to those currently experiencing homelessness and as a preventive measure to long-term homelessness. From a funding perspective, corporate funding offers charities the chance to be innovative, often acting as early-seed investment for new projects. The benefits to Focus Ireland are twofold. It provides them with much needed funding at a time when finance can be difficult to secure. Crucially, it allows Focus Ireland to measure the impact of the project and put these results forward for public funding. The project has had a long-lasting impact on the lives of young people availing of the services. Providing accommodation was a key impact and 79 young residents were accommodated in Focus Ireland Housing for the duration of the project, and 39 young people moved


on to permanent (non-Focus Ireland) housing. Giving young people education and opportunities in life will give them better economic opportunities and protection against homelessness: through this project 81 young people went on to complete a higher education qualification and/or apprenticeship training programme. A further 239 nonresidents were offered support and case management through the Focus Ireland support and settlement service.

IRISH YOUTH FOUNDATION: THE BLOSSOM FUND Applegreen and The Irish Youth Foundation teamed up to launch the Blossom Fund. The Blossom Fund to date has provided more than

€200,000 to not-for-profit voluntary and charitable organisations around the country which promote the health and well-being of children aged 4-12 years living in disadvantaged circumstances. Successful projects have ranged from healthy eating and fitness to circus performance and even Star Warsthemed kick boxing! The fund supports projects which focus on positive physical or mental health, healthy eating or other innovative ways of supporting children in these areas The social impact of each project is carefully measured by the Irish Youth Foundation who request impact reports from each project six months after they have received their funding. Key questions focus on how the project has supported the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the children; the successes and challenges of the programme and individual case studies. To date, more than 6,500 children have been impacted through 112 projects since the establishment of the fund.


In the Community, For the Community Diageo continues to echo the philanthropic legacy of the Guinness family, originators of the company’s iconic brand


he philanthropic legacy of Arthur Guinness continues, as Diageo maintains not just his iconic beer brand, but also his ethos of doing good in the community. Diageo are nominated in four categories this year for innovative and impactful initiatives, as well as being shortlisted for the Outstanding Achievement in Sustainable Business Impact Award.

on its board. Globally 40% of senior management are female; in Ireland one-third of leadership is female. Last May Diageo announced a new parental leave policy and Irish operations now offer 26 weeks fully paid parental leave to all Diageo employees, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or how people become parents – via birth, adoption or surrogacy. Almost 40% of staff who have availed of the new policy have been male, including two men at director level.

RESPONDING TO COVID-19 In response to the COVID-19 crisis, which has workers unemployed and vulnerable groups isolated, Diageo and Guinness established a €1.5 million fund to provide support to affected communities in Ireland. The fund saw €1.1 million go directly to bar workers in the form of 10,000 x €100 pre-paid Mastercards, alongside €300,000 to elderly vulnerable people through a partnership with ALONE, and its Befriending service, and €100,000 to national housing charity Threshold, to establish a dedicated freephone helpline for the bar worker community to provide tailored advice to those who are worried about their ability to pay rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

REMOVING PLASTIC PACKAGING As Ireland’s largest producer of packaged beer, Diageo wanted to make a significant contribution towards reducing plastic waste and

THE OPEN DOORS INITIATIVE Oliver Loomes, Managing Director, Diageo Ireland

litter by removing all plastic material from its packaged beer products. This includes reducing total packaging weight by 15%, increasing recycled content to 45%, and ensuring 100% of packaging is recyclable or reusable. All plastic packaging is expected to be replaced by mid-2021. This will remove more than 400 tonnes of plastic annually from the beer packaging process—the equivalent of removing 40 million 50cl plastic bottles from the waste stream.

EQUAL PARENTAL LEAVE Diageo’s ambitious diversity, inclusion and gender balance agenda has seen it achieve a 50:50 gender balance

The Open Doors initiative evolved from a Diageo hospitality training programme working with disadvantaged youths to help them find employment. Diageo was asked by the Government to work on the development of a coordinated approach to support marginalised groups to access the workplace. With the support of IBEC, Diageo brought together 14 companies and supporting NGOs to found the Open Doors network in September 2018—today it comprises 45 member organisations and 21 NGOs. In its first six months in full operation (Jan-June 2019), 1,452 participants were helped into employability by 34 companies, 104 of those found full-time work and 75 had sustained employment for over six months, and one started their own business.



The Home Energy Saving Kit A first-of-its-kind in Europe, the Home Energy Saving Kit allows citizens to borrow a toolkit to better understand their home energy usage


he Home Energy Saving Kit has been developed by the Dublin Energy Agency Codema and is the first initiative of its kind in Europe. The scheme allows citizens to borrow a toolkit free-ofcharge from a range of libraries across Ireland and use the tools inside the kit to better understand their energy use and reduce their bills. The Home Energy Saving Kit helps citizens and communities to take that all-important first step on their sustainable energy journey, promotes climate action locally and encourages the shift in behavioural change that is so desperately needed to improve energy efficiency across the country.

HOW IT WORKS The six tools/exercises in the kit (thermal leak detector, energy monitor, radiator key, temperature and humidity meter, stopwatch and water flow rate exercise) address key areas of energy use in the home—space heating, hot water and electricity consumption— and can identify common issues such as lack of insulation, poor ventilation and the appliances that might be driving up electricity bills. The Home Energy Saving Kit allows citizens to take charge of their energy use, and equips them with the right information and tools to make an informed decision on the next steps for energy efficiency improvements. The Home Energy Saving Kit relates to many of UN’s Sustainable


Development Goals (SDGs), in particular number 7—Affordable and Clean Energy. The kit has the potential to save homeowners €447.87 in energy costs per household per year, or 4,292 kWh, therefore addressing issues around energy poverty while promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy (SDG 11 Sustainable Cities). Sustainable Energy Communities (SEC) feature strongly in the All-ofGovernment Climate Action Plan and the Home Energy Saving Kit can act as an innovative and engaging tool in providing support to citizens and local communities and acting as a catalyst for action.

ACROSS THE COUNTRY A major advantage is that the initiative can be easily accessed by using a resource that is at the heart of the community—your local library.

Having successfully expanded from a pilot involving just 10 Dublin City libraries in 2016, the kits are now available to borrow from a range of library branches across Ireland: the majority of libraries in the Dublin Region, all libraries in Roscommon, Leitrim and Cork City and a selection of libraries in Kildare, Kilkenny and Wexford. Most recently in 2020, we have developed 140 new or additional kits for libraries in Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, Westmeath, Wicklow, Waterford, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Kildare, Kilkenny, Carlow and Cork County. It will bring to 17 the number of local authority regions/counties where the kits are available for the public to borrow from local libraries and the overall goal is to make the kits available to every community in Ireland.


A Hand Up, Not a Handout After volunteering in a refugee camp in Greece, Liferay’s Veronica Rodriguez-Cabezas was inspired to help refugees make a start in the irish workforce


the tech space in Ireland so they are supported to progress their careers.

A HAND UP Veronica Rodriguez Cabezas, Site Director and Director of Operations, Global, Liferay, and internship participant Thabisile A Moyo.


nspired after working at an Amnesty summer camp in Greece, Veronica RodriguezCabezas, Liferay’s Site Director and Director of Operations, Global, decided to start an initiative to employ refugees to help people get on their feet in a new country. Working with Open Doors, which supports marginalised groups in accessing training, work experience, mentoring and employment, Liferay created a role to offer two refugees the opportunity to work with them each year, providing a 6-month paid part-time, 20 hours a week employment contract.

MAKING CONNECTIONS “Refugees do not want to be treated as victims or charity cases; they want to start rebuilding their lives, become self-sufficient and give back to society,” says Rodriguez-Cabezas. “However, they face many obstacles in finding work such as personal trauma, government bureaucracy and social discrimination. Fortunately, employers can step in to help by providing jobs and training. This is a win-win for both the employer and the refugee.” The work experience not only allows the successful candidate to develop and learn new skills but also gives them access to the company network and the chance to develop connections within

One woman who completed a contract with Liferay is Mavis Nonkosinathi Ramazani. She now works with the Irish Refugee Council. Mavis says, “The experience with Liferay Dublin team and friendship will forever be cherished; because of your Refugee Programme you gave me the hand up I needed. Today the skills learned are benefitting me in my current job at the Irish Refugee Council. Hoping more employers give refugees that opportunity to bring their skills, diversity and integrate at the same time.” In theory, refugees in all OECD countries have the right to work subject to certain administrative requirements on a country-bycountry basis. In Ireland, even asylum seekers (those who have not yet been granted refugee status) are now eligible to work provided they have met certain conditions.



Pioneering Education and Communication IBM introduces a pioneering education initiative to Ireland, and collaborates on a video call system to tackle isolation for hospital patients during COVID-19 visitor restrictions

P-TECH students and staff from St Joseph’s CBS Fairview, Marino College and Larkin Community College on site visit to IBM’s Technology Campus, Dublin, with IBM Ireland CGM, Paul Farrell (second left) and IBM Ireland CSR Leader, Deirdre Kennedy (second right).

PATHWAYS IN TECHNOLOGY Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) is a pioneering education reform initiative created by IBM to prepare disadvantaged youth with the academic, technical and professional skills required for 21st century jobs and ongoing education. P-TECH launched in 2011 as a public-private partnership between IBM, City University of New York and the New York City Department of Education. From one school in New York, P-TECH has grown to more than 200 schools across 24 countries, involving 600 companies in IT, healthcare and advanced manufacturing. Results across more mature schools demonstrate higher attendance rates, higher achievement in school and college coursework, college degree attainment rates four times the US


national average, and graduates being hired by industry partners or going on to college – very significant given P-TECH’s disadvantaged student population. Ireland, the first country

in Europe to adopt the model, expects similarly outstanding results. P-TECH represents the best of public-private partnership, integrating expertise from partners to create a


seamless pathway from school to college and career. In November 2018, the Irish Government announced a pilot in three schools. IBM, the Department of Education & Skills, NEIC and National College of Ireland have adapted the model to the Irish education system and curriculum and are working collectively to raise student achievement and create a more robust and inclusive local economy. Pilot schools – St. Joseph’s CBS Fairview, Marino College and Larkin Community College—are collaborations with industry partners IBM, Cisco, Irish Life, Irish Water and Virgin Media, with the National College of Ireland as third level partner, overseen by the Department of Education & Skills and NEIC. Students take secondary school and college coursework simultaneously, engage in industry-guided workforce experiences, including mentorship, worksite visits, paid internships, and upon graduation guaranteed interviews for entry-level positions. Over a six-year programme, starting in 2nd year with completion during the calendar year of their Leaving Cert, students have the opportunity to earn a Level 6 qualification in addition to Leaving Certificate qualification. This new qualification is being co-created by industry and education partners ensuring students are equipped with “new collar” skills in digital technologies and workplace competencies, foundational to all future jobs. School principals are reporting that P-TECH students have consistent attendance, particularly with P-TECH classes—coding, robotics, mentor visits—along with an overall sense of pride and improved behaviour. Introduced in 1st year as a “taster” programme, students across all three schools have officially registered to participate. School year 20202021 is expected to see the full school year in all three schools, more than doubling the number of P-TECH students.

Dr Aoife Murray, NUI Galway and Irial Conroy, NUI Galway and IBM who led out the project to introduce the new ICU FamilyLink video call unit in collaboration with ICU nursing staff and technology partners IBM and Cisco.

ICU FAMILYLINK Due to COVID-19 visitor restrictions in University Hospital Galway (UHG), a new video call system known as ICU FamilyLink, was introduced, to enable contact between families, patients and the clinical teams providing care. The ICU setting presents a unique challenge to introduce video calls in an appropriate, confidential, secure, and sensitive manner. The visitor restrictions necessitated by COVID-19 limit the communication channels, weighing heavily on all involved. ICU FamilyLink helps to restore those communication channels. The solution presented was the result of a collaboration between NUI Galway, Cisco and IBM, working closely with the ICU, Clinical Engineering and IT teams in UHG. A team was formed in less than a day, and the project delivered in less than three weeks. The state-of-the-art video call system specifically for the ICU setting runs on Cisco software and and devices donated from Cisco’s software development office in Oranmore. The project is supported by a team of IBM volunteers who are available by phone to family

members to offer technical support, to eliminate this added pressure for hospital staff. Ann Conroy, Clinical Nurse Manager 3 who works in the ICU in UHG said, “The system was designed and implemented to make it as easy as possible for the nurse caring for the patient to use safely and securely. This was based on listening to the nurses and addressing the needs that we identified.” David Bermingham, Director of AI Applications, IBM Ireland, commented, “COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges for frontline medical professionals and patients’ families who cannot visit loved ones in hospital. I am very grateful to all the IBM volunteers who are dedicating time as part of the team to help set up and customise the experience to make it easy for families to stay connected in difficult times.”



Lidl and Jigsaw: The Power of Listening Lidl worked with Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health, to communicate the message that One Good Adult® lending a listening ear can make a difference


t Lidl, we believe it is our responsibility to build a successful, sustainable future, not just for our business, but for the communities we serve. This commitment is enshrined in our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy, A Better Tomorrow, which sets out ambitious sustainability targets. Aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, our strategy focuses on those areas that are the most material to our business and importantly our stakeholders. Through our A Better Tomorrow community pillar, we partnered with Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health. On partnering, we pledged to fundraise €1million and build awareness for youth mental health, over a three-year period.

SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH Jigsaw’s ambition is to create an Ireland where every young person’s mental health is valued and supported. Day in, day out, they provide early intervention mental health supports to young people aged 12-25. But they also believe that everyone in the community can play a central role, by being the One Good Adult®– a trusted voice, a friendly face, a listening ear. We were keen to share our expertise with Jigsaw and offer our reach to communicate their message. Utilising our existing channels, meant we could make meaningful impact to a cause we know our communities and employees truly care about.


The annual colleague charity event ‘Twisted for Jigsaw’ 2019, raised 37,017.33.

THE POWER OF LISTENING Recognising the existing brand awareness Lidl has, we modified our existing messaging, campaigns and even products to highlight the power of listening and youth mental health. We understood our greatest impact would be through innovating what we have already and by doing something a bit different with existing communications channels, both external and internal. We launched our campaign through a 1 minute radio take over across 6 leading channels. This take over message was spoken from a young person where she asked listeners to take a minute and listen. Acknowledging the busy lives we all lead and how supporting those around us is so important.’ This was exemplified by our Trolley Cam TV ad showing a sister acknowledging her brother’s low

mood and offering him space to talk and for her in turn to listen. We also transformed our usual price saving stickers to messaging on how to ‘save’ young people from distress through the power of listening. This innovation saw the central message of checking in with your young people across over half a million products sold, ending up in homes across the country. Our quarterly internal magazine was dedicated to the topic of mental health and included numerous articles offering advice, support, peer-to-peer guidance and personal stories, all aimed at ensuring our colleagues know what mental health support is available to them. The main feature was from a store colleague who, who, as a guest edit and colleague ‘Jigsaw Hero’, went behind the scenes of the TV advert to support the production.


Tico Mail Works Electric Car Scheme Tico Mail Works offers all the company’s employees the opportunity to purchase an electric car through the company

Alex Pigot, CEO Tico Mail Works


ico Mail Works provides bulk mail production and postal services to government, banks and blue chip companies. The company considers environmental sustainability to be an essential part of its business model, and is committed to either only buying paper which comes from forests where trees, grown for paper, are replaced as and when they are cut down, or using recycled paper. In its efforts to maintain a high standard of environmental quality throughout its mailing operation, Tico Mail Works has developed a comprehensive Environmental Policy based on key industry recommendations made by the Federation of European Direct and Interactive Marketing (FEDMA). In 2008 Alex Pigot, Chief Executive of Tico Mail Works, was instrumental in

writing the environmental policy for FEDMA when he was chair of their Environment Committee. When considering CSR avenues to pursue for the company, the choice was very clear for Pigot: “Because the planet faces into an existential threat of climate change it was decided that our goal must be to continue to reduce our carbon footprint.”

ELECTRIC CAR SCHEME To this end, Pigot founded the Tico Mail Works Renewable Electric Car to Work scheme, which provides an enabling mechanism for any staff who wish to purchase an electric vehicle and use renewable energy to drive it. The mechanism works as follows: Tico Mail Works buys and owns the car, and charges the staff member for the cost of the car, insurance and road tax, equal to a reduction of the

staff member’s gross salary including USC and PRSI. Tico Mail Works also provides the electricity to charge the car at the Tico Mail Works premises; this energy is annually certified by the energy regulator as being 100% renewable. Should the staff member wish to purchase the car at any time they may do so at no profit to Tico Mail Works. To date 11 cars which used fossil fuels have been replaced by 11 electric vehicles under this scheme. The annual carbon footprint of all 22 vehicles which belong to the company or are used by staff to travel to and from work have been surveyed and the total annual carbon footprint for transport calculated. “This scheme will result in a reduction in the annual carbon footprint of over 40 metric tons of CO2 per annum, or a reduction of over 50% in our carbon footprint for transport in a single year,” says Pigot. “The aim is that our business becomes carbon neutral by 2025,” he adds. “We only use renewable electricity and all lighting is LED.”



Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund Bank of America is working with Rethink Ireland to empower 1,000 marginalised women into sustained and secure employment

Representatives from all six awardee charities at the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund Awards Announcement Event


ank of America worked in partnership with Rethink Ireland (formerly known as Social Innovation Fund Ireland) and the Department of Rural and Community Development to develop the Mná na hÉireann, Women of Ireland Fund to empower 1,000 marginalised women into sustained and secure employment. The €1.8 million Fund is the first of its kind in Ireland to support charitable and social enterprise organisations that seek to enhance the economic mobility of women. It works by investing in six community projects that provide training, upskilling, work experience, education


and other services, directly to women experiencing disadvantage.

MOVING THE DIAL Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland, says, “The significant multiannual donation means we can move the dial on a social issue that we at Rethink Ireland have been passionate about for a while. Bank of America have taken a considered, proactive and collaborative approach to the Fund from the beginning, bringing expertise and experience from other global philanthropic achievements to the table. This initiative is an example of a best-in-class partnership with a multinational company, Government and social innovation.”

In addition to grant funding, the six successful organisations also receive a place on Rethink Ireland’s Accelerator Programme, which includes bespoke training and mentoring by experts from across the private, non-profit and public sector. The Accelerator Programme is specifically designed to equip charities and social enterprises with the skills to expand their business knowledge, drive growth and strengthen their impact across Ireland.

CAPACITY BUILDING “We are doing a lot of capacity building and what we want to do is to help the charities grow


Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Rethink Ireland, Leo Varadkar T.D., Anne Finucane, Vice Chair of Bank of America.

their work and go further with their communities,” says Anthony Harte, Head of Philanthropy for EMEA at Bank of America. “It’s really deep strategic work with the leadership of these organisations and we have appointed six of our managing directors to work alongside the leadership teams of the charities.” As well as the mentoring team, Bank of America staff are involved in further capacity building in areas such as website development, cybersecurity and developing Excel training.

DEPTH AND BREADTH The chosen projects span the depth and breadth of the sector, with a broad range and geographical span of partners, including smaller, local groups. The six projects and organisations selected for the partnership are: • Women’s Education Programme (An Cosán VCC) which offers women a flexible part-time education through a blended learning model of online lectures and in-person workshops. • Dress for Success Dublin, which gives individuals ongoing access to skilled recruitment professionals and educational programmes. • Here Comes the Girls (Westmeath Community Development), which works by pre-empting skills demands of local employers and offering employers bespoke training and

recruitment opportunities to meet their staffing needs, while also equipping local women with skills required to perform these jobs and enter employment. • Integration from Day One (Irish Refugee Council), which supports refugee women to build opportunities and skills to successfully integrate and find their place in the labour market. • Amplifying Rural Women’s Voices (EQUAL Ireland), which provides blended learning. Combining workshops, a co-operative learning environment, online and outreach delivery, in partnership with communities. • Super Women (Transgender Equality Network Ireland), a programme which helps trans women and trans feminine people to overcome barriers that prevent them from accessing work or reaching their full potential in employment.

WIDER IMPACT Each awardee focuses on a different target group including single parents, trans women, migrants and rural women. “Businesses that are purposeful and are looking to really drive sustainable growth, across communities and around the world, need women to be at the table,” says Harte. Individually and collectively these Awardees have the potential to impact a diverse and extremely disadvantaged section of

Ailbhe Keane, Board Director at Rethink Ireland; Anthony Harte, Bank of America; Deirdre Mortell CEO Rethink Ireland; Patty Clement, Bank of America; Seán Canney, Irish Independent politician former Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development

Anthony Harte

Irish society. It is widely accepted that supporting women impacts the wider family and community. Over the three years of Bank of America’s commitment to this programme, the impact will reach far beyond the boundaries of the awarded charities. Against the current backdrop of the global pandemic, all businesses, charities and public sector organisations are having to review and evaluate where funding needs to be diverted to. “Since the pandemic has hit we have spoken to each of the charities to see what else we can do to be helpful,” adds Harte. “This is ultimately about social impact and making a difference. We’re thinking very creatively about how to make adjustments to the partnership.”



An Post Address Point Gives Homeless People an Anchor Without an address, the homeless community cannot access many of the services they need; An Post created a free solution which offers anonymity and dignity


or many years now Ireland’s homelessness crisis has been growing yet no permanent infrastructure had been developed to reflect this new, unfortunate reality of modern Ireland. The cruel irony of homelessness in Ireland is that to get help, you need an address. Without an address, the homeless community cannot access the basic services designed to help, services like health, housing, education and employment. An Post resolved to develop a solution, and working with The Simon Community, hosted research groups with members of the homeless community to gain a greater understanding of their needs. From these workshops the specific nuances identified were that a service needed to be flexible (to service multiple locations, reflecting the nomadic nature of homelessness), free (clients have minimal access to money), and human (to reduce stigma, clients needed a real address, not a PO Box).

FREE AND ANONYMOUS As a response, An Post created Address Point, a free nationwide service that provides a fixed address to those without a fixed home. It enables the growing homeless community of Ireland to receive regular post, be identifiable via an address and access essential services by creating a fixed proxy address at


Debbie Byrne, Managing Director of An Post Retail with service user Tara McNeill

Service users Tara McNeill and Derek Maguire at the launch of the Address Point service

local post offices, allowing them to collect their post at a time and place convenient to them. It is a free, anonymous service, accessed via the internet or with the help of a social worker. To launch to the community, An Post engaged six of Ireland’s biggest homeless charities to inform them of initiative and forged a partnership in which the charities would promote Address Point within their own services, to ensure the people who need the service are aware of it.

ANCHORING ADDRESS “This makes a big difference in terms of the homeless community’s ability to survive while homeless and also their ability to get out of homelessness.

It finally gives them an anchor,” says Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy at Focus Ireland. “Address Point was endorsed by Ireland’s largest national homeless services, calling it a practical and pragmatic solution at a time of national crisis and extreme inequality,” says Debbie Byrne, Managing Director of An Post Retail. During the first six months, 30% of Ireland’s adult homeless community signed up to Address Point. Address Point is used daily, accessed across the country, and while numbers continue to grow, and the project will continue indefinitely, the hope is that the need for it will begin to decrease as those engaging with the service find their own home.


ETHOS-scope: A New Tool for Not-for-Profits Medtronic volunteers from across the globe participated in two three-week-long immersive volunteering projects with Irish charities, hosted by The Wheel. The teams created and developed ETHOS-scope, a tool to capture the added value of not-for-profits.


he value added to society by the not-for-profit sector is often unknown, unacknowledged or underappreciated. For those working in not-for-profits, this means their time is often spent diverted from their core mission, having to justify their existence and fight for recognition and funding. Many of our health and social care services are dependent on not-forprofit organisations, which deliver approximately one-quarter of publicly funded acute hospital care, two-thirds of disability services, and a myriad of other key supports in the sector. Yet existing impact frameworks and quality standards do not adequately capture or articulate the unique societal value of these not-forprofit services. Looking to offer a solution to this issue, Medtronic chose to partner with The Wheel (Ireland’s association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises) through the company’s unique, threeweek skilled volunteering programme, Global Innovation Fellows. Two groups of employees offered their skills and experience, volunteering in excess of 1,000 hours to the issue. They created ETHOS-scope, a framework designed to uncover, demonstrate, and communicate the added value that not-for-profit organisations bring to community services. Furthermore, by aggregating individual organisations’ results, a sector-wide view

As part of the programme, employees take part in hands-on volunteering with host charities.

of added value can be created, which will help The Wheel and partner infrastructure organisations to build an evidence base for policy change.

INNOVATION FELLOWS “The Medtronic Global Innovation Fellows programme is unique in offering employees a three-week secondment to go on-site to perform this skills-based volunteer opportunity,” explains Alma Curran, Corporate Affairs Manager. “Not only is it a huge commitment from the volunteers, it’s a testament to the company culture and the support from management to release staff from their roles and responsibilities for this period. The immersion into a project for an extended time, rather than a day here and there, enables volunteers to deeply engage in an issue and unlock critical health solutions for the host NGOs and their patient groups.” The Fellows work together in small teams, using human-centred design solutions to problem-solve and create new tailor-made solutions. After the success and output of Team 1,

a second group of employees took up the project and used the learnings to further develop, build and test a prototype of ETHOS-scope. All of the work created by the Medtronic groups was presented to the community sector to be shaped and rolled out by The Wheel. “I was amazed at what the Medtronic volunteers achieved in three weeks,”says Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy, The Wheel. “These employees came from all over the globe, with little prior knowledge of Irish systems and yet they managed to create an approach that helps de-complicate the notoriously complicated field of demonstrating impact. “The volunteers enabled these Irish organisations to begin to capture the information that they would need to hold to do justice to the many positive changes they bring about in the lives of the people and the communities they serve,” adds Cooper. “Participants learned and articulated examples of challenges and opportunities in telling the full story of their work to key stakeholders like funders, donors and the general public and politicians.”



Keeping Róisín’s Voice Alive - a Big Life Fix Marino Software created an innovative combination of voice recordings and Artificial Intelligence to help a Motor Neurone Disease sufferer to preserve her voice and keep communicating


s one of the companies participating in the RTÉ series, “Big Life Fix”, Marino Software took on the challenge of creating an invention to transform someone’s life. The show connects people in need with problem-solvers who can create innovative solutions. We worked with Róisín Foley, a 31-year-old single mother of three from Crumlin, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in September 2017, just one month after her 30th birthday. This progressive, life-limiting disease is quickly deteriorating Róisín’s motor skills, making everyday tasks increasingly difficult. She will eventually lose her speech and ability to communicate with her three daughters, family and friends.

MAINTAINING IDENTITY When our team first heard about Róisín’s everyday challenges living with MND, we immediately knew we wanted to commit our time and skills to help her improve her quality of life. Róisín already has to spend at least half of her days connected to a breathing machine; we had to move fast to deliver a solution that would bring value to Róisín’s daily life as soon as possible. The muscles first affected by MND tend to be those in the hands, feet, mouth and throat. Our two main challenges were to give Róisín the ability to communicate in her own


voice (Voice Banking) and to keep her voice alive (Voice Legacy). Using a combination of her own voice recordings and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to allow her generate new sentences, we created a bespoke, easy-to-use app to preserve her voice and communicate with her loved ones, and a Voice Legacy app, which would enable her to pass on her experience and wisdom to her daughters. We wanted Róisín to recognise herself through her digital voice, to maintain her identity.

WORK WITH EMPATHY In our industry, we know that accessibility for someone that is challenged with a disability will

provide equal access and equal opportunity. Social inclusion, ability to communicate and interact should be available to everyone. Spending time with Róisín, understanding her challenges and co-creating a solution that would work for her was key to overcoming the accessibility barriers. While we take pride in all our projects and serving our clients on a day-to-day basis, this CSR initiative enabled us to find a new ‘joyful’ and personal element in our work. Meeting Róisín brought our team closer together, transformed us for the better and inspired us to continue our journey and keep improving our product to reach many more people in need of a voice.


A Piece of Our Time Collins McNicholas partnered with Jigsaw to develop new avenues to fundraise, volunteer and spread awareness regarding their youth mental health campaign


ollins McNicholas partnered with Jigsaw, the youth mental health intervention service, as our chosen Charity Partner during 2018 and 2019. Our approach when working with Jigsaw focused on how we could best utilise our skills as individuals and as a company to assist them with their needs and goals. This partnership included supporting fundraising campaigns of the charity by having our employees register and fundraise, offering our services and expertise to Jigsaw’s Youth Advisory Panel, as well as supporting Jigsaw’s wider campaign of awareness and education on Mental Health.

PRACTICAL PREPARATION Aside from fundraising, we felt it was important that we offered our services as a support to Jigsaw. The results of an internal survey highlighted that the best way to use our skills would be to help prepare young people with CV and interview preparation. To provide the most innovative solution, we developed a video training to be showcased on Jigsaw’s website, so those who may not be able to attend training in person could attend virtually. Participants were then required to answer questions and on successful completion of the training, received a certificate.

health issues, it was highlighted that having ‘one good adult’ in their lives was the fundamental factor helping them to overcome issues and progress with their mental health positively. Collins McNicholas developed an internal recruitment campaign whereby, firstly their employees received training regarding the One Good Adult® offering and then the employees reached out to their own personal networks to recruit for more people to avail of the training, thus creating more awareness aroundthe campaign.



Based on research conducted by UCD, in a study focusing on adolescents who recovered or progressed from mental

The 5-A-Day mental health workshop was presented by representatives from Jigsaw to all employees within Collins

McNicholas. In this workshop the core teachings were how to care and nurture for our mental health, and our consultants have not only implemented the learnings into their own lives but can also educate others, thus providing a knock-on effect. Fundamental knowledge on mental health can be shared helping to create a more resilient society, educated on day-today coping mechanisms. Throughout this engagement, the relationship between Collins McNicholas and Jigsaw really became a mutual beneficial partnership, while we have worked on various fundraising initiatives and transferred knowledge and skills to Jigsaw, we have gained a tremendous amount from Jigsaw in return.



Write to Read: Improving Literacy Outcomes Deutsche Bank Ireland’s Write to Read literacy project supports innovative literacy programmes in DEIS schools



eutsche Bank’s global CSR initiative Born to Be targets the barriers that prevent young people from achieving their full potential. By working in partnership with thought leaders and grassroots organisations, it delivers bespoke educational programmes that make a difference in local communities. Educational Research Centre data shows a significant literacy achievement gap emerges early, with almost 1 in 5 children in disadvantaged communities leaving primary school reading at or below the 10th percentile on standardised reading tests, meaning they would struggle with simple everyday tasks. This led Deutsche Bank to become a founding partner of the Write to Read literacy research project in 2012, working together with Dr Eithne Kennedy from DCU’s Institute of Education. This longstanding partnership has since


supported 13 DEIS primary schools in disadvantaged areas of Dublin city to deliver innovative quality literacy programmes, encouraging over 2,800 children to develop as readers, writers and thinkers. Its vision is for a whole-school approach to literacy where expectations are raised and children are supported and encouraged to develop reading and writing as lifelong habits.

IMPROVING LITERACY OUTCOMES The initiative was inspired by Dr Eithne Kennedy’s award-winning doctoral research, which demonstrated that intensive professional development for teachers and investment in literacy resources could dramatically improve literacy outcomes for children in disadvantaged communities. The model promotes an evidencebased, holistic approach to literacy issues and encourages schools and families to meet the literacy needs of children in customised ways that build their motivation, engagement, agency,

creativity and higher-order thinking skills. Writing Workshops teach the processes, crafts and skills of writing in a variety of genres; children always choose their own topics to increase motivation. In Reading Workshops the children are introduced to a range of genres and authors and encouraged to develop a personal taste in books. Participating schools received customised on-site professional development for teachers, professional readings, access to professional learning communities on key topics, and financial support to purchase the huge increase in books required to implement Write to Read. Teachers were also offered routes to Certificate or Master’s level accreditation with DCU Institute of Education. The project has provided professional development for over 330 teachers, supplied high quality literacy resources to inspire over 2,800 children, and delivered motivationbuilding initiatives such as the Deutsche Bank Poetry Competition, which received 600 entries in 2020, and a Young Writers Academy, which enabled 60 promising young writers to work with published authors in 2018. Research has shown that where schools critically engaged with the change process, Write to Read succeeded in narrowing the achievement gap for children in disadvantaged schools, bringing them into line with and sometimes exceeding norms on nationally standardised reading tests.


SuperValu: Developing a Framework of Autism-friendly Supports What began as an initiative to create autism-friendly shopping environments has spread out to whole communities, with Clonakilty being designated Ireland’s first autism-friendly town


n 2017, a customer suggested to staff in SuperValu, Clonakilty, some simple interventions they could make to improve the instore experience for adults and children with autism. “Autistic people think, communicate and experience the world in a different way to those that are not autistic. This means going to new places can cause major anxiety. It means that day-to-day environments such as the supermarket can be too noisy, busy and overwhelming for our community,” explains Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm, Ireland’s national Autism charity and advocacy organisation. In response, SuperValu teamed up with AsIAm and the Middletown Centre for Autism, to audit its network of stores and develop a framework of autism-friendly supports and staff training. Since then, over 90 SuperValu stores have launched autism-friendly shopping evenings, and each store develops store-specific maps, reduces the unknown by providing store images and videos, and reduces the sensory experience for a calmer environment.

AUTISM-FRIENDLY TOWNS “It became evident to us that it wasn’t just about making our stores easier places to shop in, it was about raising awareness. We realised we could do more,” says Julie Dorel,

Corporate Communications Manager, Musgrave Retail Partners. “The more understanding you have, the more accommodating you become in the way you do business or run a club.” Clonakilty was chosen to pilot the idea for an Autism-friendly town; businesses, organisations and community groups across the town received a full audit from AsIAm, providing the foundation for a bespoke training and organisational changes programme. This led to Clonakilty being designated as Ireland’s First Autism Friendly Town.The initiative has expanded and 11 communities are now on the journey to become an accredited Autism-Friendly Town.

MAKING THE EVERYDAY EASIER “Feedback from the autism community through AsIAm is that changes made in organisations and businesses in

communities have a significant impact on their lives as it makes shopping, taking part in social and sports activities and doing everyday tasks easier as they know that steps have been taken to make the experience easier for them,” says Dorel. “Building autism-friendly communities across Ireland is empowering a generation of autistic people to participate fully in their community and tackling the loneliness, frustration and isolation so often experienced by autistic people and our families,” adds Harris. The latest initiative has seen SuperValu fund a back-to-school resource booklet, ‘Bridge Back to School’, developed in partnership with AsIAm and Mary Immaculate College. The toolkit helped prepare children returning to school with the stressful transition and re-establishing routines.



Spark Creativity at Microsoft’s DreamSpace The DreamSpace experience provides students with an opportunity to interact with technology and understand how it influences the world around them


icrosoft’s mission is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. As technology permeates every aspect of our lives, it is critical that the next generation has the skills for the jobs of the future. With this mission in mind, Microsoft developed its innovative digital skills experience, DreamSpace, which launched in 2018. Through the DreamSpace experience the company is committed to providing primary and secondary school students and teachers with the opportunity to interact with technology and discover how it influences the world around them now and into their futures.

SUPERCHARGING IDEAS At DreamSpace, young people engage in a digital skills experience which has been created to inspire them to unbox their ambition, spark their creativity


and supercharge their ideas. Grounded in innovative teaching practice, DreamSpace was developed by and is led by teachers. With an estimated 70% of future jobs requiring skills in the field of STEM, coding, computer science, data analytics, AI and computational thinking, it’s important we rethink education and prepare students for their future. Over the last year, Microsoft invested further in the DreamSpace initiative, rolling it out to the regions by hosting a series of pop-up events across Munster, Ulster and Connacht to give students the opportunity to engage in the experience without having to travel to Dublin. The company also announced a 10-year partnership with W5, the Science & Discovery Centre in Belfast, to bring the DreamSpace experience to an additional 15,000 students in Northern Ireland.

the DreamSpace experience online with the creation of the DreamSpace HomeSpace series. Not only has this given every student, parent and teacher the opportunity to learn new skills from home, it is also providing guidance and tools to equip parents and teachers with the skills they need to support their children and students in a remote learning environment. Research undertaken by NUI Maynooth on the impact of DreamSpace on visiting students shows that it has been a catalyst for a change in perception. It found that DreamSpace has raised aspirations to work in STEM roles with young girls reported as being more open to careers in STEM having engaged with Dreamspace. As schools have now reopened the DreamSpace experience is continuing with schools now taking part in virtual visits and plans for more ways for schools to avail and engage with DreamSpace planned for the year ahead. DreamSpace has exceeded expectations with in-person sessions at its hub in Dublin being booked out months in advance and strong engagement with its newly launched DreamSpace HomeSpace series. To date, 28,000 young people have taken part in DreamSpace (51% girls, 49% boys) and an additional 15,000 have participated in the DreamSpace HomeSpace experience. Microsoft is confident that 100,000 students will engage with the initiative within its first 4 years.

DREAMSPACE HOMESPACE In response to the closure of schools this year, Microsoft quickly transitioned

For more on DreamSpace go to www.microsoft.com/dreamspace.



Growing with our Communities As part of the Growing with our Communities initiative HEINEKEN Ireland reached out to work with community groups, as well as planting native Irish trees and empowering employees to grow their own food


t HEINEKEN Ireland, the focus is on forming partnerships that align with its Brewing a Better World sustainability strategy, to create community investments that make a difference. From a seed of an idea, based on growing food and connecting with local communities, a partnership between HEINEKEN Ireland and Grow It Yourself (GIY) blossomed into a three-year community initiative entitled Growing with our Communities. With GIY providing the food-growing expertise and HEINEKEN Ireland supplying the people power, a Grow Tribe of staff volunteers and GIY experts teamed up with selected community groups to ‘green up’ neglected and disused urban community spaces. Over the past three years Growing with our Communities has not only positively impacted a number of local communities, but it has also encouraged and enabled HEINEKEN Ireland employees to connect with community groups where they live and work. In addition, GIY’s green-fingered influence has inspired and supported HEINEKEN Ireland staff to start growing their own food. COMMUNITY INITIATIVES As part of the Growing with our Communities initiative five community groups, across Cork, Dublin and Waterford, were awarded Star Gardens. Each received a bespoke garden design plan for the creation of a functional growing space; planting and growing expertise; a financial contribution towards materials; and plenty of people power from the Grow Tribe to

bring the growing spaces to fruition. In addition, the Grow It Forward initiative—a take on the Pay It Forward scheme—helped four community groups ‘green up’ their community spaces via hands-on help from the HEINEKEN Ireland Grow Tribe and specialist workshops led by experts from GIY. GROWING AT WORK With the average person spending one-third of their life at work, the workplace is an immensely important setting in which to promote and improve health and wellbeing. The Grow at Work programme, aimed to empower employees to improve their physical and mental health through engaging and meaningful wellbeing activities which included a food growing competition, staff volunteering opportunities and wellbeing and biodiversity workshops. Its aim was to create healthy and sustainable working environments for HEINEKEN Ireland staff in both the Cork and Dublin offices.

In 2019 there was an added focus on creating a biodiverse urban environment and adhering to HEINEKEN Ireland’s environmental responsibility and commitment to offsetting their CO2 emissions. By creating a Biodiversity Garden at HEINEKEN Ireland’s headquarters in Cork and planting thousands of trees to offset carbon emissions, one of the company’s core values—‘respect for people and planet’— was at the heart of all the activities during the third year of the HEINEKEN Ireland and GIY partnership. Working with the team at GIY, along with Grown.ie—an Irish business that implements a certified planting programme of indigenous Irish trees on Irish soil—HEINEKEN Ireland committed to planting 2,200 native Irish trees on designated land in Ireland. In December 2019 the first batch of 600 trees were planted at Grow HQ in Waterford—a fitting legacy of the impactful three-year partnership.



Vhi Encourages Youth Groups to ‘Run for Fun’ Vhi has a mission to help its customers live longer, stronger, healthier lives but they also want their local communities to have the opportunity to achieve this goal too.


ith this in mind Vhi joined forces with the Irish Youth Foundation in 2017 to establish a new programme called ‘Run for Fun’. The programme was designed to encourage young people living in underserved communities in Ireland to embrace the benefits offered through running.

TAILORED TRAINING Initially piloted in 2017, over the past three years Vhi has funded the delivery of 12 ‘Run for Fun’ programmes which have seen 175 young people complete 3,500 hours training and run over 800Km. The aim of the eight-week programme is to empower and build the self-esteem of young people through a fitness and nutrition programme.


POSITIVE ENERGY Young people were asked to complete a questionnaire at the beginning and end of each programme and across every group there was an increase in understanding around how food can fuel your body and which foods offer the most positive impact for energy. There was also a shift over the course of each programme in how participants noted that they felt about themselves in terms of their body image, increased levels of confidence, and also how they felt physically in terms of their energy levels. Qualitative data also highlighted the impact in terms of young peoples resilience and engagement with themes of commitment and responsibility. The impact of this programme has been small but targeted and it’s the outcome of it that has led to the growth of the partnership between Vhi and the Irish Youth Foundation each year. Building on the focus on health and

THE IMPACT OF THIS PROGRAMME HAS BEEN SMALL BUT TARGETED AND IT’S THE OUTCOME OF IT THAT HAS LED TO THE GROWTH OF THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN VHI AND THE IRISH YOUTH FOUNDATION EACH YEAR. Fitness instructors and nutritionists are brought in to share expert advice and tailor training plans to meet the needs of the young people taking part. Each week the group work to improve their fitness levels and their knowledge and understanding on how to lead healthier lifestyles. All of this helps the young people build up to their first 5km at the end of the eight weeks at their local parkrun. The initiative helped IYF carry out one of the key missions of its organisation—to build core life skills in young people and foster positive mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

wellbeing in young people this year Vhi is partnering once again with the Irish Youth Foundation to introduce the Vhi Health and Wellbeing Fund. Through this fund Vhi have a clear mission to ensure organisations working directly with young people living in vulnerable circumstances have access to funding to deliver vital programmes with health and wellbeing at their core. Through the fund Vhi will be looking to provide grants to groups with ideas around supporting young people to build resilience and manage anxiety with a special emphasis on early intervention and prevention.


Deloitte: a 360 Approach to Sustainable Business Deloitte’s broad range of CSR activity encompasses internal efforts in Diversity & Inclusion and creating a more sustainable workplace, as well as reaching out to the communities in which they serve


eloitte Ireland employs almost 3,000 people across Ireland, instead of listing the offices. The company has been nominated in four categories at this year’s Sustainable Business Impact Awards: Diversity & Inclusion, Volunteering, Partnership with a Charity and Community Programme. DIVERSITY & INCLUSION Globe is Deloitte’s LGBTI+ and allies network, first launched in 2016. It is a voluntary group of people committed to going beyond diversity to create a proactive and proud inclusive workplace. From 400 allies now wearing Respect & Inclusion lanyards to the implementation of a Transgender Employment Policy, there has been a range of activity across the business. Rather than focusing largely on Pride, the Globe committee created a year-round calendar of events and awareness days on topics including coming out, homophobia and transgender identity.

IMPACT DAY For its 2019 IMPACT Day, 63 Deloitte professionals worked with 15 notfor-profit organisations to give the charities the support they need through professional skills volunteering. The Deloitte experience connected charities with professionals to address their most pressing challenges. From developing new strategies, to website design to organisational structure overhauls to a digital mapping tool which helps surgeons in craniofacial operations, these tailored consultancy projects complimented masterclass workshops provided on the day for the charity representatives. The Impact was described as being “beyond just a day” by one attendee. The charities left with new skills, a wider network and the ability to make an even greater impact in society. LEAVE NO TRACE Through its partnership with Leave No Trace, Deloitte has been inspired to continue going green and creating

a more sustainable workplace. In 2019, 168 volunteers contributed 1,218 volunteering hours to community-based projects to minimise degradation of the natural environment and help to keep our communities clean. An initial trial of selling reusable coffee cups turned into a hugely successful initiative raising €5,730 for Leave No Trace over 6 months. The collaboration with Leave No Trace has been so highly valued by leaders and enjoyed by Deloitte people that Deloitte has partnered with Leave No Trace as its official environmental charity partner. ANALYST CHALLENGE Deloitte’s long-standing Analyst Challenge mobilises the newest cohort of graduates to organise Christmas events for six charities tackling homelessness. In addition they must fundraise as much money as possible in just seven days. Based on their learnings, the analysts contribute to a rolling research paper to highlight diverse aspects of homelessness. Supporting ALONE, Dublin Simon Community, Focus Ireland, Good Shepherd Cork, Sophia Housing and The Alice Leahy Trust, the goal is to make Christmas as special as possible for those living with homelessness. Since 2013, this challenge has raised over €100,000 for charities, including a staggering €27.5k raised in 2019. With these funds the analysts hosted six Christmas-themed events for the charities and provided over 400 Christmas gifts to those that they support, in addition to cash donations.



Aldi’s Making Ireland Greener Aldi Ireland is taking action to become a more sustainable business. From removing plastic to planting trees, their Sustainability Project is helping Ireland become greener.

Ruairi Foley, Aldi, Killorglin and Gerard Moroney, Greenbelt and landowner John Lynch pictured with Irish Oak saplings at Muingaphuca, Killorglin, County Kerry as part of Aldi’s ‘100,000 trees in Five years’ planting project nationwide. Photo: Don MacMonagle


ldi recognise that many of their business activities can affect the environment, from the daily running of stores, to the packaging and distribution of products. For this reason, Aldi implemented their Sustainability Project to underline their ongoing commitment to becoming a more sustainable business by enhancing biodiversity, reducing our carbon footprint and reducing plastic and packaging across the entire product range. PLASTIC PACKAGING To address plastic pollution and its negative impact on seas and oceans, Aldi announced 6 plastic and packaging pledges to reduce the amount of nonrecyclable and single use plastic and


packaging from their supply chain by 2025, including the removal of difficultto-recycle plastic, all black plastic, PVC and EPS from their core range by the end of 2020. Aldi will also have 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging across their core range by the end of 2022. Aldi have removed 610 tonnes of plastic from their product range and moved over 870 tonnes tonnes of non-recyclable packaging to recyclable. In 2019, they introduced compostable and paper ecofriendly bags, which resulted in removing 12.5 million single use plastic bags from circulation. Reducing and creating new plastic packaging alternatives will have significant long-term impacts on the environment and the functioning of ecosystems. Less packaging on the market means less plastic pollution of land and sea.

BIODIVERSITY Many aspects of Ireland’s biodiversity are in danger leading to habitat degradation and loss. As part of Aldi’s Sustainability Project, specific biodiversity initiatives have been developed, including the generation of local habitats for flora and fauna. Currently, one third of Ireland’s bee species are threatened with extinction due to the limited number of plants and safe nesting sites. Aldi is a supporter of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan created by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Not only does this aid bees’ survival, who are responsible for the pollination of our crops, it in turn enables businesses like Aldi to provide it’s customers with high quality/fresh produce. Aldi pledged to plant 100,000 native trees across Ireland. The first two stages of this have already been completed, with 31,000 trees planted in Limerick and Kerry. Planting native trees provides a high quality habitat for native flora and fauna, whilst emitting more oxygen into the air and sequestering carbon emissions. The carbon savings from these two sites alone equates to 5,785 tonnes. Aldi also introduced a green roof at their Ennistymon store and will be planting a wild flower meadow and high pollinator plants at their Head Office in Kildare. In addition, they will have ‘Lunch and Learn’ style workshops and biodiversity walks for staff.

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SBIA 2020_Brochure Cover_v8.indd 1

SBIA 2020_Brochure Cover_v8.indd 1

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Sustainable Business Impact Awards 2020  

Official brochure of Chambers Ireland Sustainable Impact Awards 2020

Sustainable Business Impact Awards 2020  

Official brochure of Chambers Ireland Sustainable Impact Awards 2020

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