37 (132) 2018
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Corporate Social Responsibility

No competitive advantage without values

Bogdan Kucharski, head of country, BP Poland
Header bogdan kucharski


Companies that keep up with the times know that social responsibility projects build their good reputation.

Business partnership is no longer only about common profits but mostly about universal values and making a positive effect on the society.

Responsibility increases with every zloty invested. Corporate social responsibility is an element of managing various aspects of a business, including human resources, finances, as well as legal, commercial and marketing affairs. We seek to make the best use of the opportunities available to the corporate world and the natural willingness of humans to help in order to accommodate real needs. In over 25 years we have invested 5.5 billion zlotys in Poland. In addition, we paid 15 billion zlotys to the state budget in VAT, excise duty and fuel tax, and we currently employ over 4,000 people directly and another 4,000 individuals indirectly. We are committed to actively support the Polish market, which is why we use the services of Polish design offices, purchase goods and services from Polish suppliers and collaborate with Polish contractors and subcontractors on an ongoing basis.

Our CSR strategy is based on four pillars: caring for our employees, the local community and the environment, while also demonstrating ethical behaviour in the marketplace. In all these areas we have been and still are pioneers of change. Twenty-five years ago, we commissioned research to find out about significant reasons for concern for Polish people. At that time, people mostly expected support in such areas as environmental protection, healthcare, promotion of culture and art as well as safety on the roads. Social initiatives started and implemented by BP then directly accommodated those specific needs. Over the following years, the initial projects were expanded and new initiatives were pursued in areas which needed support, for example creating aid mechanisms. We launched an innovative loyalty programme and were the first business to invite a social partner – Polish Humanitarian Action -- to join the programme.

With our social partners, we try to adapt to the changing times. Our social programmes are evolving, and so is our range of products and services.

Consumers, employees and business owners alike are very much aware of the impact of whatever they do and the still-unused potential they have. Nowadays high quality of products and services is considered to be the standard deal by an informed consumer. Customers expect a brand to offer a product, as well as a set of values, reflected in socially responsible activities. A mere product-vs-product competition between market players is no longer sufficient. Developing technologies, rapid market changes and high awareness among consumers give value-driven businesses a substantial competitive advantage. Numerous global studies show that an increasing number of people look at values a potential employer believes in before they are ready to join their team. Consumers, in particular the millennials of which there are already 1.3bn worldwide, increasingly often look for benefits to the society or the environment when making daily choices. 91% of millennials say they would be happy to trade their currently-used brand for another if that other brand were more committed to CSR.

In BP, we believe that business and its success depend on people and helping is part of human nature. We are positive that the people who work for BP in Poland and our customers have CSR in their genes.

We set ourselves a goal to stimulate the helping gene wherever possible. The support starts within our organisation.  BP offers financial and organisational support to various initiatives and lends a helping hand to charities supported by our own people which, given that we have 4,000 employees and their families, represents a large portion of in-house activities.

However, we perceive our corporate responsibility not only as short-term help for people who found themselves in a difficult life situation, but also as the corporate culture and numerous programmes which address various employees’ needs on a daily basis.

The individual willingness to do the right thing is encouraged by BP’s Matching Fund programme in which the company supports employees’ commitment by contributing the equivalent of people’s financial donations, time and effort (after assessing the monetary value of such contributions in-kind).

BP’s CSR strategy is also about promoting various ways to help. We include our partners in marketing and operating activities pursued by the company. However, the crucial element of working with our social partners is building the tools to help.

BP supports six national programmes: TOPR (Tatra Mountain Volunteer Rescue Service), the Siemacha Association, the Wiosna Association which manages the Noble Gift, Academy of the Future, the Puppet initiative of Polish Humanitarian Action and the Fields of Hope, all of which can also be supported by BP customers when they donate points available in the Payback loyalty scheme. It is interesting to note that customers have already donated as much as 140 million points to our social partners under the Payback scheme. Each year BP’s Wild Bean Cafes take part in the Puppet’s Christmas Dinner Table initiative. On a selected day, 10% of WBC turnover is donated to subsidise meals for children supported by the Puppet programme. Over the years we started working, and implemented a number of projects, with Anna Dymna Foundation “Mimo Wszystko” (Despite All) Foundation, the Polish Environmental Partnership Foundation as part of the Clean Business initiative, Decius Villa Association, the Warsaw School of Economics and the University of Łódź.  We also supported cultural institutions, including: Groteska and Ludowy Theatres. In addition, we are a partner of Klasa Kobiet (the Women’s Class Foundation). This institution actively supports education and development among women over 50, enabling them to attend the Second Age University classes. We also donate fuel to the R2 Foundation, an association of paramedics on motorbikes who can get to the scene of an accident quickly.

I think our activities are best described by a single figure. Since 1996, we have spent over 40m zlotys on social initiatives in Poland. Over the years, we have amassed a number of awards and distinctions, including three Benefactor of the Year figurines. This year we were presented with the Symbol 2018 award for our entire commitment to the local communities.

However, it is not the awards that keep us going. Our biggest success is having activated the helping gene in so many people, including our business and social partners, and our customers refuelling their cars at BP service stations on a daily basis.

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