53 (148) 2022

Corporate social responsibility

Sustainable relations and strategy – at your service

By Magdalena Owsiana, senior PR & CSR manager, Wunderman Thompson Technology
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Recently, I was surprised by one of my Facebook memories. It was a company party picture from 2019 – a group of people together, dancing and smiling. It has been only three years, yet it seems like an alternative universe. We did not suspect how everything around us would change. But one thing has remained: strong and trusted relations are still fundamental, even more than ever.

Wunderman Thompson Technology is a part of the global Wunderman Thompson network. We operate in Poland: in Poznan, Bydgoszcz, and Katowice. Our business ambition is to inspire growth for ambitious brands. As a technology centre of excellence, we are a community of engineers and tech experts who combine their skills to deliver customer experience. We are passionate about technology, but teamwork is one of our core values. We say that we are ‘In it together’, meaning we understand that a genuinely sustainable future requires the meaningful participation of all community members.

Sustainability framework – how it helps

Our sustainability framework recognizes that our business, ecological, and social impacts are interconnected. Following our passions and skills, we have identified three main pillars of our engagement: Education, Inclusion and Diversity, and Environment. Those three are not only in line with our values and approach. They are also a natural consequence of who we are and what we do. For example, education is a vital part of technology, evolving day by day. To stay up to date with the latest trends, we need to extend our expertise, looking for innovative solutions. We apply our capabilities in the service of our local communities. We partner internally and externally to offer our expertise to local groups, schools and organisations.

We understand that we may differ in local specifics as a global company. Even so, to have an actual impact, we should always think about the causes and consequences of our actions. Our three pillars are supported by two qualities that a Sustainability project at WT Technology must cover: scalability and long-term results. We need to utilise tools and resources thoughtfully to stimulate active community participation. We ensure solid and long-term relationships with our partners based on listening and understanding. Being in constant, respectful dialogue and sharing ideas and observations make us more conscious of our actual needs. And we have proof that such relationships work.

Project Shoebox – one for all, all for one

Project Shoebox was initially a Canadian charity established to collect and distribute gifts for women at risk of homelessness. In 2016, a Wunderman Thompson Technology team set up our version of this fantastic initiative that is currently snowballing. Numerous businesses now support it in Poland.

The idea is straightforward. Each year just before International Women's Day, we collect toiletries and essential everyday items that we can package into Shoebox survival packs. These are meant to help vulnerable women: abuse victims, women suffering from homelessness, or poverty. In shelters, they often arrive with very few possessions, having escaped in the night, or left in a hurry. Some of them choose to buy food instead of items of everyday necessity such as shampoo or toothbrushes. Although it does not seem much, our charity partners tell us that these boxes can make a difference in an unbearable situation.

During six years of Project Shoebox, WT Tech and partners have helped over 3,500 women in need. We started 2016 with 170 boxes for four organizations and shelters. In 2022, we distributed almost 800 packages and multiple other articles to over 30 NGOs and institutions. We could not have done it alone and expanded the initiative were it not for our partners.

After the first edition of Shoebox, we started spreading the idea among local CSR events and discussion forums. We also partnered with PISOP – an NGO, teaching and supporting other organisations in making relationships and developing their initiatives. Thanks to PISOP, we get to reach out to institutions and women who need our help. We turned to local media to promote Shoebox, and it had a tremendous impact.

In 2022, Shoebox was supported not only by WT Tech, but also by many business supporters. Over 20 companies decided to participate in the collection, contact local shelters, and transfer shoeboxes directly. Thanks to building strong relationships, we are sure to reach out to women who need help. We can expand and spread. You can read more about the Project on the website (content in Polish): //projectshoebox.webflow.io/.

Support for Ukraine – help needed ASAP

As for all the breaking news in our lives, I am confident we all remember what we were doing on 24th February 2022, when the news about the war in Ukraine spread worldwide. It was not a usual Thursday at work. Internal chats were red-hot, with people sharing news, offering, and seeking help. We needed only hours to kick off some new projects focusing on supporting people in Ukraine and refugees. Our implemented CSR strategy and framework made it much more accessible from the very beginning.

Our policy claims that every person working for WT Tech can allocate 8 hours per year to volunteering. Firstly, we have extended that rule to support Ukraine in any form. Our people wanted to help in refugee points or were busy preparing shelters. They only needed to let us know about that and report the dedicated time against the CSR phase in our system. We have created an opportunity to extend regular hours if needed.

A spontaneous Tech for Ukraine group was created within the Delivery departments of WT Tech. They focused on opportunities to help people through their skills and knowledge, with full support from the company. Our combined IT, Finance, CSR teams, and Management decided to create a fast-track process to transfer some equipment to families needing support. Our focus was to help locally and reach out to specific people our employees know. It provided practical and direct help to 36 Ukrainian families. Computers allowed children to continue their education and adults to look for an opportunity to work.

Thanks to our respectful, trustful, and strong relations with local communities, we could transfer financial and in-kind assistance to social coordinators of refugees' support. Having constant contact with organizations that we used to collaborate with before, we knew what was needed the most. That allowed WT Tech to provide resources to prepare meals for almost 700 refugees staying in the Poznan International Fair shelter for two weeks. We used the Project Shoebox collection partially to address the exact needs of municipal assistant centres: mostly menstrual hygiene articles.

All this was achieved in only a couple of days, despite procedures and processes applicable in a global company, which WT Tech is. But it was possible, thanks to the network we had built with our partners. It is based on trust, ideas exchange, shared goals, and initiatives.

Let the framework guide you

At Wunderman Thompson Technology, we acknowledge our business's impact on society and actively work to make that impact profitable. We follow our areas of excellence, looking for new ways to put that to use. We constantly educate and encourage our employees to use that opportunity to make a more significant social impact. We are agile in shaping our CSR according to need, and at the same time, our framework keeps us on track when it comes to extending our engagement. It allows us to provide specific help to those in need. Our approach guides us to provide more successful and meaningful outcomes, enabling the community to thrive now and in the future.

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