"This article was originally published in "Dansk HR", the largest HR magazine in Denmark".
8 different countries. 8 different cultures. 1 proper CSR initiative. That is the challenge Azets was facing. Could they find a way of having CSR working in a sustainable way, engaging all employees throughout its international organization?
As a large company operating in 8 European countries, with more than 3,200 employees serving more than 22,000 customers, the services and technology company wanted to find their own way of becoming a truly responsible company. Walking the talk, not just talking the talk. But where would they start?
Our approach needed to make sense to our business and resonate with our people. Something to incorporate into our business’ DNA. We were looking for the Azets way of doing CSR.
Following an intense period of meetings, idea-sharing sessions and motivated discussions, Azets 4 Kids saw the light of day: A new CSR initiative tailored to Azets and the modern world, supporting kids with the tools and resources they need to create a brighter future for planet Earth.
Supporting the future generation. Kids are the foundation for Azets 4 Kids.
– They are the future and they deserve to be taken seriously. However, it is obvious that they are the ones who will be facing the devastating consequences of climate change and environmental degradation. That is why we decided to build our Azets 4 Kids initiative upon three pillars: Helping kids, helping the fragile environment and enabling more and better education, Wiik Andreassen says, and elaborates:
– Azets 4 Kids will support kids with all kinds of equipment, supplies and engaging activities. Whatever they need to thrive and achieve their hopes and dreams. We will also support programs, actions and initiatives creating a cleaner planet for our kids. Picking up plastic, planting trees, supplying clean water. Whatever it takes to clean up our mess. Furthermore, by educating kids, we will provide the basic skills they need and encourage their critical thinking.
– It is of no particular importance whether an Azets 4 Kids project is located in a specific region, country, or even if it’s a global initiative. The only thing that matters is that any project we support needs to coincide with our Azets 4 Kids values, Wiik Andreassen says.
Good for business
CSR effectively integrated into corporate strategy provides a range of benefits for the entire organization.
– CSR needs to be a part of the actual business strategy, not a side dish. It is probably ideal for any company, including ours, to proactively demonstrate both a will and an ability to manage all the risks that might impact the business, Wiik Andreassen says.
And of course, perhaps most importantly, CSR attracts talent. A typical employee today feels strongly about societal and environmental issues. He or she wants to work for a company that shares those same beliefs.
– I strongly believe that proper CSR drives employee motivation. Everyone is committed to the cause. And it is pretty well documented that motivated employees drive better performances. Customers, potential customers, employees, potential employees and other stakeholders alike will appreciate a company that embraces CSR and takes any action that improves society. That is exactly what we are trying to do.
Integrating CSR into the business
Azets has set out on a mission to integrate Azets 4 Kids throughout the different corners of the organization. All the way from onboarding new employees, via regular meetings and the constant sharing of ideas and stories, to engaging all employees to actively take part, and then take corporate action and follow up properly.
– Without the drive and passion from our dedicated employees, Azets 4 Kids will never be a success. It’s that simple. Luckily, we are well aware of that, and we are currently looking into and implementing several steps to make sure that CSR is on the agenda - constantly. Azets 4 Kids is presented thoroughly to all new employees in our business. We are exploring a possible (voluntary) deduction of a fixed amount from our employees’ monthly salaries, matching that amount from the company’s side. A steering committee and a working group run regular meetings and constantly share ideas.
As a CEO in a corporate world, driven largely by results, CSR is probably the most rewarding work that I can possibly do. At the same time, I am fully aware that we have a long way to go, as we are just getting started with Azets 4 Kids. I hope we will be able to make a difference and have a positive impact on society.
Wiik Andreassen explains that his employees are actively encouraged to share any idea with these teams, and each idea will be considered in a serious manner.
- The main point is to reinforce the importance of Azets 4 Kids, over and over again. In terms of specific projects to support, we are just getting started, to be honest. We recently established our Azets 4 Kids and have since worked relentlessly to identify the right projects and we continue to do so as we speak. The current projects in Romania in Denmark are two examples of what will hopefully be many more projects to come throughout 2020 and beyond.
Denmark is doing its part
June Mejlgaard Jensen is the Managing Director of Azets’ business in Denmark. She is thrilled to be part of a responsible organization, and by the fact that Azets 4 Kids paves the way for multiple projects, all supporting either kids, the environment or education, or all of the above.
Our employees throughout Azets are very motivated and they want to contribute, as is definitely also the case here in Denmark. They have so many good ideas, and I am just glad that we as a company can provide them with something as meaningful as Azets 4 Kids.
– Even though Azets 4 Kids has no geographical boundaries, we are of course interested in backing any valid cause in Denmark as well. Our first Danish Azets 4 Kids project is for example the support of the Hospital Clowns here in Denmark. With a huge employee engagement we have supported the hospital clowns through more activities (sponsorship and Clown Run), and the clowns have also been guests at customer events. They are doing a truly amazing job in taking care of our most vulnerable children, and we are proud of being able to support their admirable mission, says Mejlgaard Jensen.
Employee engagement is key to any successful CSR endeavour, and Mejlgaard Jensen confirms that Azets’ employees are more than up for the job.
Spotlight: Supporting a foster care in Romania
What: A foster care housing approximately 100 kids
Where: Orlat in Sibiu, Romania.
Type of support: Providing the kids with equipment and educational activities
Romania was a natural place to kick things off with Azets 4 Kids. In fact, Azets has a strong presence in Romania, employing approximately 800 highly skilled individuals located across 4 different cities.
In a vibrant country with a rich history and mixed cultures, Romanians have developed a certain way of living. The people of Romania are considered to be compassionate, honest and great hosts for travelers and guests.
Nevertheless, Romania is facing the same harsh reality as the rest of the world: a changing climate and the immediate threats to our environment. Whether it is air pollution or ruined forests, kids will carry a heavy burden. They are the future.
In line with its three pillars, Azets 4 Kids wanted to find the Azets way of supporting, activating and educating the kids. A foster care in Orlat, a small village just outside Sibiu, ticked all the boxes.
Azets 4 Kids has provided clothing, and will continue its support over time to provide even more exciting and useful packages. Moreover, an important part of this project is to bring the kids outside for meaningful and educational activities.
The Orlat foster care is a friendly place where kids can thrive, develop and chase their dreams.