How COVID-19 changed our approach to corporate citizenship

  • Posted on April 22, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
How COVID-19 changed our approach to corporate citizenship

COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in so many ways. I know from talking to friends and colleagues that many people are finding it incredibly stressful, as the world continues to isolate and we are unable to socialize or spend in person time with friends, colleagues and loved ones. But in some ways, I wonder if it gives us an opportunity to reflect on our lives and ultimately make us all better human beings?

With everyone isolated and working from home, I feel that technology is actually a blessing, as it is enabling us to stay connected and perform our jobs in a seamless fashion. We can also talk and connect with our families and friends — no matter the distance. And this got me to thinking about how we continue to deliver on our citizenship efforts to enable young people and support our communities during these unprecedented times to make a human impact.

We are doing this by continuing to find ways for our people to volunteer their expertise and capabilities to help others — virtually. We’ve removed the cap on the amount of volunteering hours our employees can log to enable them to not only support their communities, but also help our nonprofit partners, such as Junior Achievement, find innovative ways to continue delivering their goals and transform their operations remotely in seamless fashion.

Additionally, we are helping our nonprofit partners to adopt remote working with their employees and beneficiaries by offering up support around the implementation of Microsoft Teams. One such activity took place recently in the U.K., where our team led the Management Team at Young Enterprise (Young Enterprise are a part of JA Europe) through in-depth Microsoft Teams training — with the aim to equip them to work quicker, smarter and be more agile during such profound and immediate change. The team found it so beneficial we are now running training for the entire U.K. Young Enterprise team (some 60-70 employees). Following on from the U.K. experience, similar training was delivered to the JA Europe leadership team.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 has had an unprecedented and immediate impact on the schools and young people we serve at Young Enterprise,” said Young Enterprise CEO Sharon Davies. “As recent adopters of Microsoft Office, working on Teams is new for many of us. Receiving Microsoft Teams training from Avanade, within days of home working measures being announced by the government, really is transformational for us as a charity. It allows us to be more agile and adapt quicker to meet the immediate needs of schools and students, at a time they will need us the most.” 


We’ve also taken a fresh look at all of our citizenship activities to see where else we can help our students and communities during these very difficult times. One such initiative applies to our Avanade Tech Grant, which we run in conjunction with a non-profit called InterConnection

Historically, we’ve used our Tech Grant funding to supply our pre-loved computers to InterConnection to be cleaned and refurbished — and kitted out with software, etc., and supplied to small nonprofits operating in the Washington area. We’ve conducted two waves of our Tech Grant, supplying technology to six nonprofits since late 2019. In light of the COVID-19 situation, we’ve adapted our Tech Grant to deliver refurbished laptops directly to families without access to technology. So far, we’ve delivered 90 computers to families via InterConnection and their nonprofit partners (receiving coverage on Fox News and Built in Seattle). We have additionally delivered a consignment to students at Cal Poly, where we sponsor a number of Avanade STEM Scholars, as well as two more drops to families in Seattle via CHOOSE 180 and Big Brained Superheroes. We continue to look for partners in other locations across North America.

Lastly, we got to thinking about the food funds we provide to our major offices to provide healthy snacks and fruit to our office-based employees each week. Given these employees are now self-isolating at home, we took the decision to donate the funds from our 10 largest office locations to food banks. In total we’ve donated $30K of food funds through our offices in Seattle, New York, Houston, Toronto, Sydney, London, Paris, Milan, Madrid and Frankfurt.  

Our citizenship team — with the great support of our Citizenship Champs — have risen superbly to the challenge presented by COVID-19 and we are going to keep going! As I write, we are getting ready to welcome our CMO Stella Goulet to a pilot of Avanade Radio. Created by our people, for our people, enabling them to connect and chat with colleagues throughout the day — and share their experiences. In addition, our local teams are supporting their communities in many interesting and innovative ways — from helping out at women’s shelters to sewing PPE kits for front line health workers — we are all finding ways to address this new and invisible enemy COVID-19.  

I hope you’ve found some of these activities inspiring and thought provoking, and I look forward to sharing more ways in which we are continuing to support our communities and nonprofit clients with you very soon.

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