As we make our way to become a 100% digital economy business by 2020, it’s important to remember that not everyone is able to take advantage of digital opportunities. Our research in the Digital Society Index 2018 shows that there are people such as young people and the elderly who struggle to flourish; in addition, some organisations, including governments, charities and start-ups, are at risk of missing the digital economy opportunity.
That’s why, with society as the fourth stakeholder to our business, alongside our people, clients and partners, we’re pursuing a strategy to make the digital economy work better for everyone.
1. We’re tackling the skills gap young people encounter
Last year we launched The Code in the UK, our early careers and schools programme. The Code opens the doors of our industry to future diverse talent through immersive workshops, mentoring, work experience opportunities and apprenticeships. For our people, it’s also a chance to volunteer their time, skills and expertise to inspire the next generation of talent. To date, 380 volunteers have given 7,000 hours of volunteering reaching 6,000 young people across UK schools.
Globally we are aiming to roll the Code out to 15 countries by the end of 2020, with the goal of closing the gap between students and employers in our industry worldwide and increasing the digital skills of young people for the workplace. In the long run it delivers value for our talent strategy too, because we believe a diverse workforce reflects society and fosters innovation.
2. The Female Foundry is empowering female entrepreneurs to flourish
For the second year running, Female Foundry, our accelerator programme created by iProspect for female entrepreneurs, helped start-up founders gain access to senior management mentoring, peer-to-peer learning and development advice. Launched in 2016, Female Foundry has helped 17 female entrepreneurs in the Asia Pacific region to date.
iProspect’s proprietary ‘Hear Her Voice’ research series identified that the digital economy is enabling female entrepreneurs to start new tech-driven ventures in emerging markets, however that they also face more hurdles than their male counterparts when it comes to growing their business skillsets and securing investment to scale their businesses. That’s why we are rolling out the Female Foundry to 30 countries by the end of 2020, to ensure that female entrepreneurs are given the support they need to truly thrive in the digital economy revolution.
3. We’re unlocking our digital communications capabilities to support the Sustainable Development Goals
Working with charities in 2017 helped us make a valuable contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In alignment with the United Nations, our pro bono assignments help NGOs and charities use our digital insight, expertise and leverage to enhance their profile and progress their causes. Through our partners, we delivered more than £11m of free media space, and we deployed innovative media techniques to raise visibility of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As part of the Common Ground initiative, we have a global partnership with Malaria No More and 23 local activities tackling issues around health and well-being. Innovation and collaboration are key to developing enriched experiences for clients and charities alike, such as our #goalkeepers17 campaign which tested ground-breaking attention measurement algorithms for the first time.
In order to pursue a Society strategy that works for everyone, we must also provide the tools for our people and business to function in a responsible way. That is why we continue to improve our own organisational behaviour and internal culture to embed sustainable behaviour as a part of how we act daily in everything we do.
4. A digital economy is a low-carbon economy
As the world advances with the digital economy, a revolution is happening in conjunction: the transition to a low carbon economy. From the renewable energy that powers our data centres, offices and homes, to the sustainable products that our clients are making and advertising, the digital economy of the future is a low carbon economy. As we drive towards this we need to make sure our own organisational behaviour is in line with this vision.
The effects of climate change reach everyone everywhere, from our people and wider society, to our clients and our ability to do business. In particular, when it comes to Society as our 4th stakeholder, climate change has a greater impact on those from less advantaged backgrounds.
That is why we are aiming to reduce our global carbon footprint in line with the agreed target set at the UN Climate Conference in 2015 (COP21). We will reduce our emissions at DAN to ensure that global average temperatures do not rise above 2°C ever. We measure and manage our footprint enabling us to develop global and local programmes to target particular areas.
One of these is our commitment to purchase 100% renewable electricity by 2020. As signatories of RE100, we have publicly declared this as our aim. By the end of 2017 we had reached 23% renewable electricity purchase across our global operations and we aim to reach 60–70% by the end of 2018.
With the Financial Times recently reporting on the future carbon bubble surrounding fossil fuels and stranded assets, we aim to get ahead for our business, our clients and wider society’s ability to deal with climate change.
5. We’re creating lasting impact for our partners and our people
In 2017, 11,714 colleagues volunteered their time to help 656 charities, donating 69,159 working hours back to society. Of the charities we worked with and spoke to last year, 46% reported that our volunteers had a direct, positive impact on the quality of life of their beneficiaries, and 52% said we enhanced their charity’s profile externally in our digital world.
The longer-term impact is also being seen for our people, which is important because building a digital economy that works for everyone starts with how we nurture our internal communities. 89% of the volunteers we surveyed said their experience had a lasting positive impact on them, hinting at a deeper sense of purpose and reward received for their time.
We are also seeing that as we shift to more skilled volunteering across the network, experiences that engage our people’s brains, their skills and their ability to work with other people on more complex thinking activities helps their professional development. As shown in the table below, when comparing skilled to non-skilled volunteering responses clear differences were seen in the number of people stating their developing in the realms of Communicating effectively, Thinking critically, Building credibility and being Influential and courageous. This indicates that skilled volunteering is stretching our people more out of their comfort zones into developmental zones where they can improve their own skillsets to take back into their daily work.
% of people stating their professional capability development through their volunteering experience:
Claire Davey-Gerrard — Global Community Manager
Alexandra Ross-Taylor — Global Environment Manager
Lars Holm — Senior Global CSR Manager