CSR Views: Q&A with Michaele Hawkins

Michaele Hawkins, Global Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Lloyd’s of London speaks to Heart of the City about current CSR trends and gives her top tips for starting an employee volunteering programme.

Tell us about the Lloyd’s Community Programme (LCP)

Lloyd’s takes Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) seriously and it is one of our eight strategic priorities. Established in 1989, Lloyd’s Community Programme (LCP) is one of the longest-running business volunteering initiatives in the City. In 2016 it involved 2,798 volunteers from 76 companies across the Lloyd’s insurance market.

LCP volunteers help to build stronger local communities by supporting community projects, and providing the young people we help with the key skills to achieve their potential. This support feeds into the Lloyd’s market’s talent priority, which aims to attract and retain a diverse workforce that will bring innovation and fresh ideas to the insurance sector.

There is a wide range of volunteer opportunities at LCP, ranging from just one hour a week reading in a local primary school, to an hour a month mentoring a young person, or a day out of the office taking part in a team challenge.

The Corporate Social Responsibility team at Lloyd’s manages LCP who work closely with key delivery partners to ensure that volunteers are getting the best possible experience, and that the funding is impacting those most in need. They also support Lloyd’s managing agents and brokers to engage their staff and get them out volunteering.

From your experiences with LCP what do you think makes a good volunteering opportunity?

A good volunteer opportunity is one that allows the volunteer to use their skills, share their experiences or feel like they have made a tangible change to a community project or person.  It is a two way process as the people or the organisation that the volunteer(s) are supporting has to get something out of it too – this can range from a new school community garden to a successful mentoring relationship.  Each volunteer experience is unique and provides different challenges and chances to learn or experience new things.

What are the top 3 tips you would give to an SME just starting an employee volunteering programme?

  1. Consult with your staff about the kind of volunteering that speaks to them and they will engage with – there is no point setting something up and then having no one volunteer.This means that buy in has to come from throughout the organisation.
  2. Ensure that your volunteer programme ties in with your vision & values and if possible resonates with any learning & development the business is promoting.
  3. Get sign off for paid volunteer leave – this will help staff feel that they can volunteer and have the support of the business.

What are the CSR trends you are seeing coming through?

As business, particularly the financial sector, continues to be under the public spotlight we are definitely seeing more emphasis on the responsible business approach.  So CSR teams are being asked to look at this much wider piece and how we can ensure that what we do, say, and how we act means we can call ourselves responsible.  The diversity and inclusion agenda continues to play a big part in the CSR world, as we look to ensure our future workforce reflects the communities we operate in and we bring new voices and innovation into the world of business.

What are your current priorities at Lloyd’s?

The Corporation is currently looking at our responsible business approach as part of the Global CSR strategic priority.  For Lloyd’s Community Programme we will continue to ensure engagement across the Lloyd’s market of the volunteers and businesses involved in our initiatives, as well as develop our programmes with young people once they have left school.

What volunteering activities have you most enjoyed participating in?

I have mentored so many young people over the years and love watching them grow and develop.

LCP has a long history of supporting the Reading Partners Programme in Tower Hamlets, if you were to pick a book to encourage a child to love reading what would it be and why?

I love Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner who is a German writer – I am half German so grew up with his books.  It is a story about a trip to Berlin and what happens when a young boy has his precious spending money stolen from him on the train.  I just love it and think it speaks to all age groups – you go on an adventure with Emil.

What is your favourite part of London and why?

I have lived in Hackney for years and love it – amazing parks, great people and so much to do.  It embodies all of the diversity I love about London.

Are you a business that wants to support local communities through employee volunteering? Do you want to set up a formal CSR programme within your organisation?

Learn about how membership with Heart of the City can help your organisation take a strategic approach in developing or further enhancing your responsible business activities.

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