Heart of the City Advanced members, FTI Consulting, support their employees to volunteer, providing all of their staff with eight hours per year for volunteering.
We spoke to Kirsty Christie, CSR Manager EMEA, about how she encourages staff to take part in volunteering, their award winning educational programme and her number one tip for SMEs new to responsible business.
Why is staff volunteering so important at FTI?
Our approach to volunteering and CSR is the number one question from our new joiners, in particular millennials, so it is important that we are supportive of this. We provide eight hours for staff to volunteer per year and promote opportunities to volunteer throughout the year.
Getting staff to volunteer is important in two main ways:
How do you engage staff from across the organisation to volunteer?
I present the benefits of and choices for volunteering through staff inductions, company all-staff meetings and team meetings, as well as communicating through newsletters and the charity champion network. The most effective way we engaged staff in 2017 was by introducing our very first FTI Volunteering Week where I organised 10 different sessions from decorating and selling cakes with a local school to gardening for a cancer centre which staff could sign-up to. We had 100% take-up for the opportunities promoted and this will be built on in 2018.
Tell us about FTI’s award winning educational programme ‘Boom, Bust & Crunch’
In London we have a dedicated volunteer programme in partnership with the Citizenship Foundation called ‘Boom, Bust & Crunch’ which helps students make sense of the 2008 financial crisis and its repercussions. Although students learn about personal finance to varying extents, very few schools teach about the economy and the impact that a changing economic climate has on individuals and businesses within a society.
Teachers have also reported that they are struggling to teach about Brexit due to its complex, multifaceted and changing nature. ‘Boom, Bust & Crunch’ aims to address this gap in the national curriculum; to help young people grasp the basics of economics, to consider the impact that Brexit might have on the future of the UK economy and the affect that this will have in turn on their future.
The programme is designed to be delivered by employee volunteers, working with small groups of students as part of citizenship education. The sessions aim to help young people aged 14-17 understand key economic terms and concepts that they will need to prepare them for the future.
Since 2012, more than 140 FTI Consulting professionals have volunteered their time to deliver the programme to 420 students in schools across London. In 2016, the programme won Gold at the Corporate Engagement Awards for the Best Educational Programme.
What has been the reaction to the programme from the students and the staff involved?
93% of all the students who have taken part in the programme have stated that it has increased their knowledge of the economy, and 100% of the volunteers say that they would volunteer again.
You took part in Heart of the City’s 2017 Foundation Programme before joining as an Advanced member in 2018. How has the programme benefited you and what would be your number one tip for an SME starting out their responsible business journey with Heart of the City?
Heart of the City’s Foundation Programme has helped me in my role at FTI Consulting to promote the positive reputational impact of CSR and also the business development benefits to management – that by participating in activities such as volunteering, they can break down barriers between teams, and build a truly collaborative spirit across the business.
Sometimes, working in a CSR role in an organisation can be quite isolated – I am the only one doing this role in the whole of Europe. Through the Foundation Programme, it has been beneficial to connect with others who were facing the same issues in their businesses which gave me energy to succeed. My mentor relationship was also important and inspirational – I could have an honest chat about a challenge I was facing. We’d talk through what’s worked elsewhere, and come up with ideas to help me find a solution that worked for my company.
My number one tip would be to make as many new contacts as you can – particularly with those in CSR roles in companies that inspire you and ask them for opinions on areas that you are finding challenging.
What next for FTI’s responsible business initiatives?
Objectives for this year include raising another £50k for our charity partner Place2Be, delivering our Volunteer Week in September, creating a strategy around our probono work and growing our activities and measurement in sustainability.