Magazine “TOP-100. Ratings of the Largest” July 2021
Viktoriia Torianyk, Head of PR and Internal Communications Division of Credit Agricole Bank, told us how volunteer undertaking turned into strategic program of corporate social responsibility We Care!, and how the project affected both the Bank and its employees.
Viktoriia, could you please tell us about the idea of creating We Care! program?
History of We Care! program stated back in 2016 as a volunteer initiative. At that time, I joined Credit Agricole to organize work with communications and brand. I have always wondered how business can be useful to society, so I have always been fascinated with social initiatives. Although I saw a lot of opportunities for charity and the Bank was ready and open to such initiatives, this vector in the Bank was not covered by anyone. Our team as volunteers started to develop the CSR gradually and eventually created We Care! program.
The project celebrated its fifth anniversary this year. During that time, it turned from volunteer initiative into strategic program with clear strategy in several important vectors, considerable budget and policies, and what is more important, with huge support and involvement of top management.
Program’s name is “eloquent”
We wanted to put core message into the name. It really matters to us what we can give to the world, what difference we can make, how we can inflate good deeds. Credit Agricole is among 10 largest banks in Ukraine. We as a financial company with international capital implement raison d'etre common for the entire Credit Agricole Group – “Acting every day in the interest of our customers and society”. Additionally, it is important to us to set an example for other companies and actively promote the trend of social responsibility of business.
The project has both internal and external lines, doesn’t it?
We Care! is actually an extensive CSR program that includes charity, volunteering, care about employees, eco initiatives, and development of culture (such as French culture). We deliver more than 40 projects a year and seek to engage our colleagues in these projects as much as possible. By the way, this year we launched “Credit Agricole Ambassadors” program and its participants implement different CSR initiatives in their regions by themselves.
Which projects of We Care! can be called the key ones?
The Bank implements large-scale environmental projects to reduce carbon footprint, we even got a solar battery and electric cars in the Bank’s fleet. This is clearly the key pool of projects, the results of which require to be reported at the Group’s level.
The Bank also implements systemic charity projects like assistance to health care institutions, patronage over orphanages and rehabilitation centers, contribution to the development of children’s sport and promotion of active lifestyle. In my opinion, one of the most important projects is the Donor Day. Every last Friday of a month for more than 30 months in a row, our team gathers and donates blood in the Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Center. With the onset of the lockdown, we continued this tradition, but individually. This is awesome volunteer project, which not only saves lives, but also cultivates understanding of importance of good deeds among employees. In fact, now it is implemented in many cities. One more great project is at the intersection of environmental initiatives and charity, and can be delivered without budget by any company. This is about donating computers and office equipment over to non-profit organizations. Together with IT team, we give second life to the equipment intended for writing-off by handing it over to organizations, which need that equipment very much. Over several years, we have already donated over more than 350 units of equipment and now are getting ready to satisfy new requests.
Has the program been adjusted due to the pandemic?
Sure! What’s interesting is that it was during the period of pandemic, that we implemented the most large-scale charity initiative in history of Credit Agricole. Together with our partner, “Your support” Charity Fund, we purchased 99 units of various medical equipment, including ventilators, ultrasound machines, and patient monitors for 10 hospitals in 8 regions. For example, we fully equipped intensive care unit of Chernivtsi Regional Hospital, covered all demands of Kharkiv Clinical Infectious Diseases Hospital for Children. Last year, within the We Care! program, the Bank allocated unprecedented budget amounting to UAH 11.2 mln, which was much bigger than estimated. Our top management initiated this incredibly strong project.
Speaking of top managers, what is their involvement in CSR?
The whole team of the Management Board are very active participants and promoters of our social initiatives. They run charity marathons, plant trees together with their teams, make donations and roll out huge systemic projects. We also have a unique case “Fundraiser auction from top managers”, were lots are special events from top managers: masterclasses on piano, pizza making, golf, wakeboard or quad runner, a wine tasting or a dinner at a French restaurant. Each employee can buy a lot and win such event. All raised funds were spent for a good cause. Last year we collected almost UAH 57k. The most valuable thing in this project is a big involvement of everyone and personal example of top managers. That is driving force of CSR.
Which eco initiatives are implemented under We Care! program and what are they about?
Eco initiatives represent a critical line of We Care! The Bank implements the program for reducing carbon footprint, which is part of the Climate Strategy of our Group. Our each new project is worked over from the perspective of environmental friendliness. For instance, when we open a new outlet or modernize an existing one, the Bank makes it as a smart office – reduces resource consumption by making energy efficiency its cornerstone. For several years now, we have been using only recyclable paper. It is less presentable and we faced some resistance at first, but now we see quite the opposite trend – it feels inappropriate to use white paper. J There are other local initiatives as well, such as tree planting and garbage collection.
What is long-term program of this project?
We are eager to implement systemic projects that address global tasks. Any our investment under We Care! program must add maximum value and be clear and transparent. We will put focus on projects, which engage people, and scale up corporate volunteering.
We want to set an example for other companies. I think that being an example is also an investment. I believe that our contribution to society can be measured not only by money, but also by impact on scaling up CSR projects in Ukraine.
How implementation of projects of We Care! program affected the employees’ engagement?
Credit Agricole is a bank of good deeds, and this is not a moto, but the essence of our corporate culture.
There are many proactive and positive-minded people in the company, and our volunteer projects are effective instrument for joining their resources and energy. Today, after five years since the program launch, we are called one of the drivers of social projects in Ukraine. And the credit goes to so many people who always participate in charity projects of the Bank. Globally speaking, it is not about transferring money, but about giving a piece of your time, attention and compassion. I love the idea that charity work is done by happy people. We have many of them. I would add to that, happy people and happy brands like Credit Agricole.