Thursday 29 September 2016

Special Olympics sponsor Eircom to entice staff with caring ethos

Kevin Doyle in Los Angeles

Published 30/07/2015 | 02:30

Team Ireland’s Lorraine Hession, from Turloughmore, a member of Team South Galway, celebrates with the Lieutenant Governor of Calafornia, Gavin Newsom, after being presented with her fourth-place ribbon for her swim in the 100m Freestyle Division F14 event at the Special Olympics. Games in Los Angeles. Photo: Sportsfile
Team Ireland’s Lorraine Hession, from Turloughmore, a member of Team South Galway, celebrates with the Lieutenant Governor of Calafornia, Gavin Newsom, after being presented with her fourth-place ribbon for her swim in the 100m Freestyle Division F14 event at the Special Olympics. Games in Los Angeles. Photo: Sportsfile

EIRCOM is planning to "up the ante" in terms of corporate social responsibility as part of its efforts to attract the industry's top employees.

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The telecommunications company is rewriting its entire HR policy to make it more reflective of society and has put €200,000 a side for community projects led by their own staff.

Carolan Lennon, managing director of Eircom's wholesale, said the company needs to be able to attract the people they want and feel corportate social responsibility (CSR) is the way to do that.

"If you look at our history, it's well documented that we've come through examinership. We're turning around the organisation, we're building a new Eircom. What we would say is that we want to build an organisation that the country can be proud of and that we can be proud to work for," she said.

A substantial part of the focus will be on community projects, while bosses will also look at environmental and social issues.

"I think you can't be a successful organisations in Ireland, attracting the staff you want, unless you have some values around that," Ms Lennon said.

"At the moment we are rewriting all our HR policies around sexual orientation to make sure that pensions, maternity leave and all that good stuff is independent of whatever sort of relationship you're in.

"We are turning the company around. We are on the right track, stable with revenue growth to follow. And we think that for that to continue we need to have motivated employees. We need to be able to attract the people we want," she said.

This year Eircom is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its association with Special Olympics Ireland, a sponsorship deal that has cost it €15m to date.

Ms Lennon says workers have engaged with the organisation, raising €150,000 through the Great Limerick Run and other events so far this year on top of the corporate sponsorship. Eircom now hope to expand on the success of the partnership with other community-based projects.

"What has sustained it [the sponsorship arrangement] is the interest of the employees in Special Olympics.

"Over the years they have been volunteers and fundraisers so they are very involved.

"It will be very hard for someone in Eircom to suggest that we won't have a relationship with Special Olympics because it's a long-held friendship now," Ms Lennon said.

Speaking to the Irish Independent at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles the businesswoman said: "People see what we have done here and they think positively towards us for it. But we've also increased our funding to Special Olympics every year to help them outperform other Special Olympics organisations."

Six volunteers who wrote to company bosses were also chosen to travel to LA to participate in the Games as volunteers.

"We have decided in Eircom that we are going to up the ante in terms of corporate responsibility. We have a strand around diversity. We have joined Glen and have diversity around sexual orientation, we have a women's network and we're also looking at ethnicity.

"Special Olympics is our core charity that we support but we've also now created a local community fund where our employees from around the country can bring proposals to support for their local hospice, their local charity or something that they are involved in, " Ms Lennon said.

Team Ireland has also received a "substantial six-figure sum" this year from retail chain Gala whose ceo Gary Desmond said sponsorship is about matching an organisation with Gala's own ethos.

"It has been community based with families and volunteers," he said, adding that as part of their involvement Gala stores around the country have been decked out in Team Ireland colours.

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