The most innovative volunteer programmes, projects and partnerships were recently recognised at our inaugural Volunteer Wellington Employee Volunteering Awards.
We established the Employee Volunteering Awards to recognise and promote excellence, and we hope to encourage even deeper collaboration between business and the community by spreading the word about the many inspirational stories, experiences and approaches we encountered.
The category winners were honoured at a special event, held during National Volunteer Week (15-24 June 2014) at KPMG. We now want to share their stories here.
First up is the award for Employee Volunteer Programme – congratulations to PwC!
PwC Partner Karen Shires is pictured receiving the award from Volunteer Wellington’s Employees in the Community Co-ordinator, Judy Kerr.
Leading professional services firm, PwC, has a long history of community engagement, and has been promoting employee volunteering since the establishment of the PwC Foundation in 2005.
PwC aims to make a significant and lasting impact in the community, and via the DO programme, it both encourages (by providing and promoting volunteer leave) and rewards (by running annual Volunteer Awards) the volunteering efforts of its staff.
The volunteer leave component of the DO programme provides hands on community help: each employee (whether part or full time, and regardless of start date) is entitled to one day’s paid leave annually to undertake voluntary work. And to boost participation, the PwC Foundation centrally coordinates and publicises multiple volunteering opportunities during an annual Volunteering Awareness month. This year around 70 staff members took part in activities arranged with a number of local charities and community organisations including Ronald McDonald House, Dress for Success, Zealandia – Karori Sanctuary, the Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Muscular Dystrohy Association (MDA).
Our judges were impressed by the inclusion of skill-based opportunities, such as the fundraising and marketing brainstorming workshop undertaken with the Wellington Branch of MDA. This session is reflective of PwC’s wish to increase the level of skills-based volunteering against the ‘muscle-work’ more traditionally associated with employee volunteering. As partner Karen Shires explained, “It really shows that the things our employees do on a day to day basis can be really useful. People often don’t realise that there is a great need for their skills.”
In tandem with this hands-on, practical engagement, with a Volunteer Awards programme, PwC recognises and rewards the sustained commitment, time and energy many PwC people give to the community in their own time. Applications are invited annually from individuals, and in Wellington, there are generally two successful applications each year. PwC Volunteer Award winners receive a donation of $1000 to the organisation for which they volunteer. Ms Shires added: “This is really important because it helps acknowledge individual contributions, but it also helps spread the work and let others know how they can get involved, as well as how easy and rewarding it is.”
And the reasons behind the firm’s strong and ongoing commitment to employee volunteering? There is a desire to get involved and make a tangible difference in the community, at both a practical and a financial level, but there is a strong business case too. There is benefit to be gleaned from team building and networking, and from enhancing employees professional skills, while fulfilling their personal interests.
PwC has a young, vibrant workforce with strong social and moral values, and the firm has seen an increase in graduates actively looking for employers that they see as having a connection with them and their values. Ms Shires believes that is all part of the total package with being a leading firm: “You need to lead in all areas, including corporate social responsibility”.
The firm was very pleased to receive recognition for its outstanding employee volunteering programme, and the news was quickly circulated among staff. And as Ms Shires concluded: “Everyone was very proud of the achievement, because everyone was involved.”