In the second profile in our series of good corporate citizens, we look at Dimension Data. I sat down with the integrator’s director of people and culture, Kellie Reeves, to discuss its close partnership with The Starlight Foundation, and how that partnership has seen genuine benefits for Dimension Data’s business.
You can also read ARN’s interview with IBM on corporate responsibility here; and the first of our two features on the business benefits of being a good corporate citizen here.
To start with, you could just give me an overview of what Dimension Data does in terms of its corporate citizenship work?
Kellie Reeves (KR): If we look at our Heads, Hearts and Hands program, there are a range of things that we do in that program. What we tried to do about five or six years ago was few disparate things; making donations over here, working with some of our partners with various charities over there, and then a few years ago we decided to bring it all under one program.
We decided to work with Starlight in terms of having a key kind of umbrella partner in the corporate social responsibility space and work with them in a range of ways. So we get involved in a lot of fundraising, such as Star Day when they’re out kind of selling to the public.
We look at where our staff would like us to actually engage. So we survey them every so often and rather than again having a really broad program, we try to be fairly targeted and make sure it’s meaningful for our people is a big part of the program.
We also look at things like how we can develop our leaders through the program as well. We look at things like community mentoring where there’s an opportunity to have our leaders partner up with the leaders of not-for-profits and have a kind of co-coaching relationship, so to see what they can actually learn from the other. We’ve had some really successful relationships from that space, and some of those have been continued for a number of years. We’ve got a couple of our leaders who have had active relationships for about three or four years with some community leaders.
So what was the decision made to consolidate everything into one program?
KR: To bring some meaning to it, to bring some focus to it and to give our staff something that they could be proud. We thought it was a good opportunity to actually show that we’re doing quite a bit with the community and bring that to the forefront so people can be proud of what we’re doing.
How many of our staff would you say do get involved with this kind of work?
KR: We have measured that a few times in the past, so we’re typically ranging in the vicinity of about 60 to 80 per cent of our people are engaged in one way or another. It could be that they’ve contributed funds – one of the options for someone that is maybe is a little bit time poor and just want to donate, they can actually do that through our payroll and through the Workplace Giving Program, and then what we do there is match about 50 per cent their donation and it’s salary sacrifice to them, so there’s kind of a double opportunity there for them to help them in terms of maximizing their salary, but also contributing again in a way that they feel is meaningful for them.
What are the kinds of things that you are looking to get back from the staff – how do you look at developing that further?
KR: We really do look to our people to tell us what they’d like us to focus on and what they’d like the program to be about. So the surveys are one great opportunity, but also we work on developing the program further through the voluntary team leaders. We’ve got those people in each of our six locations through those people they are available, and they get a lot of feedback in terms of how the program is running. Why Starlight in particular?
KR I think one of the key things is youth continues to be the number one sector that our people are keen for us to focus on. There’s also the fact that through the Starlight Foundation there’s the IT Fund for Kids (Which Dimension Data helped set up). So there is that IT connection as well through Starlight.
What benefits can you get out of working with people that are involved with non-profit organization?
KR I think a lot. I know personally I’ve had that opportunity through that program before. And for people because it gives you another opportunity to get involved in something new and to opened your eyes to the world of not-for-profits and some of the challenges they face, and what they’re really trying to achieve in the community.
I think it gives you firstly an appreciation of the NGO’s part in Australia and I think also, through that kind of co-coaching model, you learn from each other. You’re both leaders bit in a very different context and just by catching up a couple of times a month, sharing stories and coaching each other really through some of the challenges that you’re facing.