Working with communities
We support and respect the communities we work among
What it's all about
A big part of how well we do as a company is the good that we do. We should all be proud of the positive impact that Serco, along with the support of its customers and local communities, has on society – through job creation, taxes, innovation, and the services we deliver to our customers and service users.
But it doesn’t stop there. Need is all around us. So we actively involve ourselves in local business development projects, programmes that provide opportunities for workers from disadvantaged backgrounds, and partnerships that benefit local communities.
And many of us take part in wonderful charity work and volunteering.
Serco believes it has a responsibility to support the communities we work among, and will try to support us in the social and charitable activities we want to undertake. Serco supports this commitment through the Serco People Fund and Serco Foundation.
It encourages us to make a difference by supporting our involvement in charitable activities and causes wherever possible, and sharing its expertise, skills, and resources with a wide variety of organisations.
And we make sure that we assess and report annually on our contribution to community projects and activities (including charitable donations and sponsorships) so others know how we are doing.
All our donations, sponsorship and other contributions must reflect our values and our commitment to doing business ethically.
Offset contracting is an agreement between two or more parties that offers to provide an additional benefit when bidding for a government contract. The additional benefit is meant to be of economic benefit to wider society through wealth or job creation. Offset contracting is criticised by the World Trade Organisation as they are said to distort the market and create opportunities for corruption. As part of normal bidding Serco does not enter arrangements which may be deemed to be offset contracting.
“So much of what we do is about making a difference locally. I love it that we take time to care for the community here.”
What we all need to know and do
Serco is committed to supporting the communities around us. But we have to be certain that the charity in question is legal, ethical and appropriate, and is genuinely raising money for good causes.
So, it’s great when any of us think about how we can make a positive social, environmental, and economic impact on our local communities, but we just need to check our ideas in with our manager before we go ahead. We then need to report afterwards on the activity and the impact we have.
Whenever we engage in charitable activities, we always take care to work in a responsible, safe and respectful manner.
We never accept any cash donation or contribution from another organisation.
We never use any activity, donation, contribution or sponsorship as a bribe to improperly influence an organisation or individual.
It all started when Arno came in and said that he’d just been talking to a couple of guys who worked for an important customer of ours. They were entering the local Marathon along with three more of their colleagues, and wondered if Serco would like to sponsor them.
They were running for a really good charity that had been set up by the hospital to finance surgery for local kids with serious eye conditions like trachoma and cataracts. We looked it up – left untreated these conditions led to blindness, and the treatment was really simple.
They said their company wasn’t involved, so we thought this was a perfect thing for Serco to sponsor.
Then it got complicated. Although they said it had nothing to do with their company, as it got closer to the run we suddenly discovered that the customer team we were going to sponsor would be wearing their company logo on their shirts. That made it very difficult for us because of course it could look like we were supporting the company, not the charity.
I know that may sound stupid to some people, but there was another difficulty – we were hoping to get more business from them and had put in a couple bids. There was just no way we could do this without it looking like we had a commercial reason for supporting the run.
It was Arno who came up with the solution. ‘Then why don’t we run as Serco employees with our own logo, and get Serco to sponsor us?’
So that’s what we did - twenty of us! With other sponsors we’d managed to get online and from our own personal networks we raised a lot of money for the charity! We were all so proud of that.
I have to say it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – but it got me into staying fit and we’ve run in the Marathon every year since, along with our customer’s team. It’s a kind of friendly rivalry that has now raised over $175,00 for the charity - and it’s really helped with our relationship too!
Serco encourages us to make a difference by supporting where and when possible our involvement in charitable activities and causes.
It all started when a local schoolteacher came to us to see if we’d like to help her create a new sports field. During the day it would be used for the children of the two local schools who didn’t have any sports facilities. And during the evenings it would be a place for members of the wider community to go.
So what’s not to like?! I was immediately taken with the idea and determined to get Serco behind the scheme.
We went carefully through all the checks. No difficulty with being seen to back one politician over another. No association with suspect individuals. No association with any of our suppliers or customers that could be misconstrued. No relationship with any criminal gang. Accounting systems all transparent. Bank and financial arrangements completely above board.
So we went ahead. And that’s when the trouble started.
We had one group from the local community lobbying for it to be a cricket field. Another pressing for two football pitches. Another insisting that we should create a running track and athletics ground. A mother’s group who submitted plans for a children’s playground. And a representation from the over 60s arguing that we should create four badminton courts, two tennis courts and a bowling green.
It got really bad – people were saying that all we were interested in was our own publicity, that it was just a PR exercise, and that if we made one decision rather than another it was because we had a secret arrangement with local VIPs.
There seemed to be no decision we could make that wouldn’t alienate at least 75% of the local community and heap abuse and sling mud on the Serco name! I lay awake night after night thinking all I’d done is get Serco into terrible trouble and sour the goodwill of the community.
Thankfully it was the teacher who came to our rescue. ‘I set out to do this for our children who have nowhere to play any sports,’ she said. ‘So why don’t we let them decide?’
It was a great solution. And by working with a cross party group on the local council we managed to extend the playing field so we could fit in a number of different sports and please most people.
But it was a big lesson to me in how to do the kinds of community projects we want to do as company. Because you can do all the checks you’re supposed to do, but the one thing you should never forget is to make sure you also consult the local community before you go ahead!
Whenever we engage in charitable activities, we always take care to work in a responsible and respectful manner.
Can you or can’t you?
A local supplier has a disabled daughter and he’s keen to start a charity that will supply mobility for other disabled kids. He’s asked you if Serco would be interested in getting involved.
What do you think?
You’ve agreed to become the coach of a local women’s football team. The first session goes really well, and it’s clear all the members of the team are really enthusiastic.
But when you go back to your car you find a note on the windscreen warning you that women should not play football and you should not be coaching them
What’s your next move?
You are really keen to become a trustee for a charity that has links to the hospital where you work.
Any problems in that?
The prison officer
One of your colleagues works with you at the prison. She’s really keen to get involved in community work, particularly with children. A lot of families nearby have relatives living in the prison, and some of the local kids have dads there.
What would you advise?
After doing all the checks and getting the necessary approvals, the Serco team has enthusiastically committed to a community project. But now you’ve just discovered that a prominent local citizen has also put money into the project, and Serco has previously stopped using him as a supplier because or real concerns that he has been using slave labour.
An extra day?
You’ve used up your annual day allowance for voluntary work, but you need to go back and finish what you were doing, so you’d like to ask if Serco will grant you an extra day.
We have to be certain that the charity in question is legal, ethical and appropriate.