Why Community Engagement Matters

Often times when people start talking about ‘Social Value’ there is an inward groan, that’s it’s a corporate buzz word that gets bandied about to tick boxes and create collateral for marketing purposes. Here at Telefónica Tech, this couldn’t be further from the case. As a Board member who is challenged to champion creating momentum behind our community engagement and tangible social value, I have been delighted with what ‘we’ as an organisation get out of it, and what ‘I’ as an individual benefit from by part-taking in events and activities to light up our ESG strategies.


The amount of synergy and good will that ripples from community engagement that I personally have seen so far is almost immeasurable, for example, as part of our Social Value strategy, we have committed to donate IT equipment to individuals who would struggle to both access and fund it in the greater Belfast area. This could have been achieved as an objective in the strategy with a quick and easy donation, box ticked, job done. We however decided to start building a relationship with Impact Training, a charity based in Belfast who work with young people from the local community who have struggled to access education via traditional routes.


Through building that dialogue, we learned Impact Training had been working with QUB to develop an entry level module to support their IT Skills Course on Phyton Coding, and a cohort of their young people would be completing that module in the Spring. To recognise that achievement, we offered to fund Raspberry Pi devices for each of the graduates, and to host a graduation ceremony, complete with speeches and photographer. This certainly met the core strategic objective, but it also brought this young people exposure to our organisation, meeting people from Telefónica Tech, seeing what a career in IT might look like for them, giving us an opportunity to positively influence them, and encourage their continuation of education in IT.  That’s how we can play it forward, to create a virtuous circle that can change lives, and do it under the guise of Social Value, which really doesn’t reflect what this actually achieves. As a consequence of that one small event, we have new networks in Queens University in Belfast Computer Science Department, we have exposure to the initiatives Impact Training are involved in across the Greater Belfast area, we have the next series of activities in plan to support further cohorts from Impact in months to come.


This is just one example of the ‘pay back’ associated with Social Values coming to life through reaching out to those organisations on your doorstep to build corporate partnerships.  There is so much out there to tap into, and with a little energy and effort, you can get so much back. Our next area of focus is supporting our LGBTQIA+ colleagues in a far more transparent way, and working towards achieving an inclusion accreditation, which for me is so much more than a tick box exercise, its about providing a safe space for staff and providing all our teams and leaders with the right knowledge, tools and training, and having policies and procedures that are cognisant of our ever changing workforce dynamics, as well as having some fun!


Ellen Dickson
Strategic Director of Health, Telefónica Tech UK&I

Connect with Ellen on LinkedIn

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