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Good reasons to do good

Volunteering at DHL Group

by Thomas Ogilvie, Board Member for Human Resources and Labor Director

"Volunteer for an inclusive future" is the tagline for the 2019 International Volunteer Day. For the United Nations, volunteerism is the foundation for stable, resilient communities - for communities that can continue to make humanitarian progress even in times of crisis. In today's world, characterized by so much tension and uncertainty around the globe, International Volunteer Day sends a strong message of community and social cohesion. It also issues a challenge to companies that have been slow to act on their responsibility to society. To be sure, social and environmental action costs money; it demands creativity and endurance, and it might seem at odds with a company's business goals. But our example shows that giving back to society does indeed pay off.

Volunteerism plays an important role at DHL Group and is held in high regard. Our aspiration to embrace social and environmental responsibility is embedded in our corporate strategy. Numerous Group initiatives and programs give approximately 550,000 employees worldwide the opportunity to contribute their time and energy and help make the world a better place. And large numbers of colleagues take advantage of this opportunity, with tremendous enthusiasm and commitment. One example is our disaster preparedness program GoHelp, which includes the Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) project. As part of GARD, our aviation logistics experts help prepare airport staff and disaster management agency employees in disaster-prone regions for the logistical challenges associated with a natural disaster. When disaster does strike, our Disaster Response Teams can be deployed at short notice to provide logistics support at airports, such as processing and warehousing relief supplies, or distributing critical relief supplies to aid organizations in the disaster area.

Another focus of our engagement - and one that is particularly important to us as one of the world's largest private employers - is helping to improve educational opportunity for disadvantaged children and young people. As part of our Group-wide GoTeach program, we work together with the global Teach For All network, which recruits outstanding university graduates to serve as teachers in high-need schools. Our employees lend their support as mentors, helping young people navigate the challenges of school and the transition to working life. In 2015, we also launched our refugee aid initiative to promote the social integration of refugees, with a focus on Germany. So far, more than 16,000 of our colleagues have volunteered their time providing language and reading support, joining in recreational activities, or providing general support with the integration process. In addition, we have provided many refugees with valuable insight into the working world, even offering some of them internships, traineeships or jobs.

Engagement motivates

In addition to our Group-wide programs, we support employee involvement in local initiatives and projects. Each year, more than 100,000 employees mobilize to take part in social and environmental projects as part of Global Volunteer Day. Planting trees, cleaning up parks, renovating playgrounds or organizing donation drives are among the many ways our employees get involved. In 2017, employees gave some 400,000 hours of their time to these worthwhile projects.

Why do we do all this? For a number of reasons. As mentioned already, social engagement is a core aspect of our responsibility as a company. We conduct business in every country around the world and benefit not only from local infrastructure, but also from the positive effects of globalization. We consider it our responsibility to give something back to society. But there are other very strong arguments for social engagement. Volunteerism, for example, has a positive effect on everyone involved. Employees who have the opportunity to volunteer in the context of their work have been proven to be more satisfied, more motivated and more loyal to their companies. In an employee survey conducted in 2017, well over 80% of our employees who had participated in volunteer activities reported increased job satisfaction levels and improved problem-solving ability, with 92% reporting increased motivation levels at work. An additional benefit of social engagement is the change in perspective it affords. As the world's leading logistics provider, we face the daily challenge of having to adjust our business and processes to changing circumstances. Our broad spectrum of social projects and programs helps provide the "big picture" perspective we need to remain agile and adaptive.

The big picture

Our social engagement also has a significant impact on our public image. It increases our visibility as a company and gives us an advantage when it comes to recruiting talented people. Young employees in particular are increasingly clear about wanting to match their work to personal ideals and values. They view work more holistically, and want meaningful work that leaves a positive social or environmental "footprint". Employers who offer volunteer opportunities quite simply improve their ability to attract the best people. Our social engagement therefore also supports our strategic goal of becoming Employer of Choice.

According to UN figures, approximately one billion people around the world are currently active as volunteers - a number that certainly inspires optimism. Thanks to the engagement of our people, we are a part of this worldwide movement. We are creating value for both society and our stakeholders. And this is something to be proud of.

The author

Thomas Ogilvie - Board Member for Human Resources

As of September 2017, Ogilvie is Board Member for Human Resources and Labor Director, DHL Group.