Not long ago, corporate responsibility used to be a somewhat dull and even forced aspect in companies’ strategies. Large companies needed to be responsible enough to avoid negative publicity. However, to our great joy, nowadays these matters seem more and more important for companies, both large and small.
Also, for many companies, the motivation behind responsible actions seems to have shifted from external to internal. Companies become more responsible towards environmental and societal topics, not only because it looks good outside but because their employees require this. Just recently a list of the most sustainable companies in the world was published and no less than seven companies from Finland made it to the top 100.
As we want to be the happiest company, and meaningfulness towards work is the most significant aspect in this, we have given a lot of thought into how we could increase the sense of meaningfulness in the workplace. Making the actual work itself meaningful is the obvious part and providing possibilities to learn and express oneself is important. But how else can we increase the comprehensive feeling of meaningfulness at work?
According to experts, one thing is by simply doing good. Doing good to each other and the society and world in general. That’s why responsibility and sustainability are one of our core values. Sustainability towards nature is the obvious part when people think about company responsibility. But how else can companies act responsibly? Here’s our examples.
During Finland’s national Women’s Day, VALA gathered its forces both internally and on social media to raise funds and visibility for improving international gender equality through Women’s Bank/ Naistenpankki. VALA also does cooperation with the Red Cross Blood Service to promote blood donation with VALA’s own established BloodGroup called VeriVALA.
During Christmas, VALA took part in Jouluapua to support underprivileged families. Jouluapua was not only financial support by VALA, but gave VALA people the chance to spend actual time with the families and assist them with getting ready for Christmas. Another cause that VALA supports annually during Christmas time is child protection activities through Pelastakaa Lapset ry/Save the Children.
We are not saying that we are some sort of philanthropist company, because our core business lies elsewhere, and the donated sums are not immense. The point in our action is to raise awareness and encourage others to join these campaigns too.
One of the ways of being responsible at VALA is taking equality into consideration in everything we do. Last autumn we took part in The Dad Campaign/Isähaaste, to shed light equality between men and women. The main goals of Isähaaste are to share the parental leaves and familial responsibility more evenly between men and women, to support the role of fathers in the early years of childhood and to enhance gender equality in work life (read more about why we joined here). Naturally we still work continuously to meet these goals.
Another great campaign we took part in was “Work Does Not Discriminate”, which aimed in involving companies to promote an open, non-discriminatory working culture. Even though we at VALA have always paid a lot of attention to these matters, this campaign was a good reminder for us to keep up the work towards a non-discriminatory working environment even more efficiently. You can read more about our participation here.
VALA stands firmly behind the notion that multiculturalism is a strong cultural advantage to us as a company and a society. We have been lucky from day 1, that VALA has been a group of people with varying nationalities and backgrounds. Diversity at VALA in all its forms is a value we want to cherish and therefore, co-operation with Helsinki Business Hub to direct labor immigration to Finland, is something we are very proud of. Last year we also took part in Successful Multicultural Company competition, organised by Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce, Finland Chamber of Commerce, Ministry for Economic Affairs and Employment and itim International.
VALA also takes responsibility in the integration process of new employees moving to Finland from foreign countries. We provide assistance with all the practicalities, such as all the legalities regarding moving countries, opening up Finnish bank accounts, finding a home, moving in, etc. Moreover, we provide support with the social side of integration, by offering Finnish lessons, assisting with finding work/occupational channels for possible spouses, and creating a community at VALA in which every newcomer can feel warm and welcome.
I relocated to Finland from St. Petersburg in late 2017. It was very nice to see how much VALA helped me with all the practical matters making the whole process extremely easy. – Arthur, Test Automation Developer
Supporting young people
In addition to equality, we find it very important to support young talent in their career paths. Whenever possible, we seek to offer growth opportunities for graduates and younger students. A good example of this are different kind of work practice programs, such as schools’ TET-trainings for 8th and 9th graders, but also collaborations with companies which provide growth services, such as Saranen Consulting.
When summer comes to an end and schools start, VALA takes part in MML’s Suojatiepäivystys, aimed at raising awareness to motorists detecting children in traffic and instructing kids safe rules of the road. We’re also going to take part in Me Säätiö’s Kaikille Kone campaign with the objective to diminish social inequality and exclusion of children, youth and families in Finland by making sure no one’s studies are interrupted due to not having access to a personal computer.
Societal sustainability is also practiced at VALA through fighting climate change as a community. We created an Environmental Challenge, which encourages us to take more sustainable actions in our private lives by competing against each other through a point system. People receive points from different green actions and initiatives they can take in their daily lives throughout the year. The person with the most points and the person with the biggest change in personal carbon consumption will win awesome prizes. There are also prizes involved if our entire community wins by reaching our overall target as a group.
In our daily life at the office, we do our share by recycling and purchasing vegetarian food in all our catering, both during events but also our weekly breakfasts.
Environmental responsibility is carried out also by compensating all our employees’ carbon footprint in 2019. In addition, every interviewed candidate’s monthly carbon footprint is compensated by VALA. All carbon emissions from work related flights are compensated and people have a chance to decline VALA merchandise and donate the money into clean energy projects fighting climate change.
This post is not about flexing our charitable actions publicly, or about polishing our brand. The point of this post is to raise the subject of company responsibility into wider discussion. We are always looking to hear tips and advice on how to further develop our culture and actions, especially when it comes to topics within responsibility and sustainability. Therefore, the question we want your answer for is: Once the core business is conducted responsibly, what are other ways for companies to operate in a sustainable way and have a positive effect on the surrounding world?