We are delighted and extremely proud to have won the Heart of the City award in the Lord Mayors Dragon Awards this year. Winning this prestigious award represents the culmination of much hard work and dedication from people across the firm, and will help inspire us to work together even more closely to develop our community engagement project to reach even more young people going forward.
We also cannot understate the role that the team at Heart of the City has played in helping us develop our project. Back in 2014 when we first considered taking a more strategic approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), we had no idea where to start! However, the Heart of the City team were instrumental in helping us to identify and understand the different aspects of CSR, and in finding an approach which was a good fit for our goals and resources.
Heart of the City were also able to connect us with other businesses who had been through the same process and could mentor us through the difficult early stages. We explored several possible routes to making an impact on our community before our project took shape, and Heart of the City’s connections and advice played a significant role in the project’s development.
Launched in January 2016, the Beck Greener “STEM: Branching Out” project is the cornerstone of the Community aspect of our CSR programme. The project involves a variety of activities aimed at promoting careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), particularly among female students and young people from backgrounds that are currently under-represented in STEM, while also providing our staff with opportunities to develop their skills in areas such as communication, leadership, presentation and project management.
There are four main branches to the project. Under the first branch, we work closely with STEM Learning UK and provide STEM Ambassadors to help teachers provide enrichment opportunities to inspire young people to engage more with STEM. The second branch is a pro bono scheme in which we work with students to assess the patentability of school science and engineering projects and help them prepare and file GB patent applications for potential inventions. The third branch involves providing insight opportunities within the office to students interested in learning more about the profession. Under the final branch, we provide training placements: full time paid work experience for IT students on a one year industrial placement, as part of their degree, and a business administration apprenticeship in which the apprentice spends time working within different support functions in the business.
The increase in our community engagement activities is illustrated in our GivX score which has gone up significantly, from less than 35 points per head before we introduced the project to 297 points per head in 2018.
Since the project launch, we have reached over 2,500 students from Years 3 to 12, the vast majority of whom are from London. Most of the students have minority ethnic heritage and/or do not speak English as their first language. In addition, the proportion of the students that are entitled to claim free schools meals is well above national average.
We are delighted with the impact of the project to date which has been fantastic. For example, we have observed a 90% increase in the total number of students who would consider a career in STEM following engagement with our STEM Ambassadors, including a 100% increase in the number of female students.
The “STEM: Branching Out” project has also been included as a case study in a 2018 report entitled “Corporate community investment: four routes to impact“. This report is the result of research carried out by the City of London, in collaboration with Corporate Citizenship, into community investment within the Financial and Related Professional Services (FRPS) sector.
We started on this journey hoping that we could improve engagement of young people with STEM, while also raising the profile of the firm as an ethical and responsible business. So if we had to sum up in one word what it means to us to win a Lord Mayor’s Dragon Award, we think we would have to say…everything.