by Mark Williams
Senior Account Manager
A day in the bush is worth two in the bank
Picture the scene, I was barely 2 or 3 weeks into a new role at a new company and was flat out introducing myself around the various departments, working on sales strategies and generally getting under the skin of Ikano Bank and its culture. Then the meeting invite dropped into my calendar…a reminder that next week I was to attend a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) day with a group of co-workers at a local school.
“A corporate what?” I asked myself, then Wikipedia and finally my manager. With a degree of reticence I asked, “Do I have to attend, I’ve got loads on at the moment”. A firm “Yes” was the reply and he went on to explain the nature of the day and the support every Ikano Bank co-worker commits to the local community. At this point I realised I wasn’t working for a finance provider like any other I had worked for before.
My inaugural CSR day meant first digging out my scruffiest clobber (we were prepped for manual labour), but of course me being me and still conscious of wanting to make the right impression, I didn’t overdo the scruffy element. I ended up a little overdressed for the ensuing activities that included ground clearance, fence painting and crawling through a bush to retrieve carelessly tossed rubbish - Ribena cartons, Mars Bar wrappers and empty cans of Dr Pepper. Three bags full later I emerged back into the baking hot sun looking more like Stig of the dump.
I hadn’t spent a day properly manually labouring (outside of my own back garden) for over 20 years, but this was much more than that. Aside from learning that my senior manager really loves pizza, the CSR day was a great way to interact with co-workers and forge relationships that may take weeks or even months in a typical day to day working environment.
Now, I’m 4 years and 4 CSR days into my career at Ikano Bank, and each CSR day has been quite different; we’ve helped a school, a city farm (animal manure gags a plenty) and a children’s hospice. What they have in common is that every CSR day has meant truly living and reinforcing the Ikano values. From delivering financial education workshops to helping spruce up gardens, Working Together, one of our values has been core to each day we’ve spent helping our local community. Co-worker interaction has been engendered in a way that a day white water rafting really wouldn’t.
Of all the CSR days I’ve spent together with my co-workers, the day at Rainbows Hospice, a magnificent children’s hospice in Leicestershire and our charity partner from 2009 until the end of 2017, will always stand out. I challenge anyone to spend a day at Rainbows, and not be truly humbled by what you see. Having been touched by such tragedy it was inspirational and yet sobering to see the brilliant work the charity does for families experiencing the toughest of times. We shifted chairs, moved bags and bags of clothing destined for their charity shop and cleared areas in the Music Garden where we could see first-hand how such an area could bring joy to children. All the work we did is something anyone could do and though it was only for that one day it was one of the most rewarding days I’ve spent in or outside of work in a long while.
Days spent working in the community like this are embraced & encouraged by Ikano and 4 years in I really get it now, I understand that this is one of the things that make us different. It shows that our core values truly are much more than a statement on the website or office wall. It’s great that my workplace actively supports doing something that really matters. I’d encourage any company who doesn’t already offer such days to follow suit. I can’t recommend it enough, your staff will genuinely feel valued when they’re being encouraged to make a contribution to something beyond the bottom line.
Ikano Bank works with a number of charities and every two years, our co-workers nominate and vote for our Charity Partner.
Rainbows Children's Hospice, our 2017 Charity Partner
Children’s Bereavement Centre, our 2018 Charity Partner
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