A mutual respect, honest labour practices and being trustworthy, ethical and transparent. The principles of corporate social responsibility are similar to our values and so, for us, it feels natural to ensure our company’s sustainable growth. We know that businesses don’t operate in a vacuum and we want to share our experience and skill set with society, to help those that are less fortunate than we are. So we came up with the Cognifide Sustainability Framework to focus our efforts.
It focuses our attention on three important issues: education, inclusion and diversity and the environment. Cognifide is a global company, operating in four offices in three countries; the UK, the US and Poland. Another important thing for us is to ensure that our projects have the potential to scale and grow with us. The framework provides guidelines for Cognifide colleagues to put forward CSR initiatives that are important to them. Initiatives are reviewed by a committee and then given budget or guidance as appropriate. It is a democratic approach which, again, sits well with our values.
For us, giving our time is as important as being able to donate money. Every Cognifider can spend eight hours a year on their CSR project and we have many volunteers. In 2017, 10% of our workforce gave their time and energy to causes that they care about and an additional 15% were involved in knowledge-sharing activities within the tech community and local universities. In fact, in Poland, we have earned a leading reputation in the growing area of competence volunteering.
2018 turned out to be our most successful year in CSR so far. Besides the record number of volunteers, we won two special, prestigious CSR awards in Poland: The Ace of Responsible Business and the Sustainable Development Video Festival. We ran 13 projects in our offices in Poznań, London, Bydgoszcz and New York. Here are some of the initiatives that we are currently involved in.
To share knowledge, to develop our skills, to invent new ideas; these are things that are important to us. We work at the forefront of the fastest-moving industry in the world and we love to share our unique and deep expertise with others. We lecture at Poznań University of Technology, Poznań School of Economics and Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań; we teach high school students in Linux Gateway workshops; we support local technical meet-ups and we share our knowledge with high school students and primary school pupils, as well as with our fellow technical specialists at conferences all over the world.
We support many initiatives empowering women in tech, such as Rails Girls or Girls Who Test. We teach young children how to think strategically – using the ancient game of Go – and how to develop some early coding skills – with an interactive game called Scottie Go. Each year we participate in BIMA’s Digital Day in London, teaching kids about what the digital industry is all about and how they can get involved. Also in London, we’re working with the independent charity Inspire, that builds bridges between business and education. Through all of this we reached out to 460 students in 2018.
We care enormously about the environment. We segregate our waste, we use glasses and water bottles instead of plastic cups and we encourage everyone to think about the impact of their everyday actions. There are so many little things that we can do around the office to help, so we created a series of short films (written by, directed by, and starring Cognifiders) to remind people how they can make a difference.
In our “Be green @Cognifide” programme we focus on sustainable transportation. During the spring and summer in Poznań we encourage people to ride their bicycles to work every day by creating a competition with prizes. We also run the “Bike good @Cognifide” race, where our colleagues ride as many kilometres as they can on the Poznań Track, raising money for charity.
Diversity and Inclusion
Digital visionary Dr Sue Black set up #techmums to empower women through technology. Through local schools she identified groups of women who had been left behind by the relentless progress of technology while they were busy bringing up young families. She spotted an opportunity to reconnect them, taking the mystery out of the tech that could open up new opportunities for them. She wants to create one million #techmums by 2020, so now she’s taking #techmums online with a free course which will be available to families everywhere. We’re helping bring that online course to life.
And that brings us to our biggest, cross-country initiative, focused on inclusion. Through Project Shoebox, a project created by a colleague, we support disadvantaged, abused and homeless women. The name comes from the fact that we literally fill shoeboxes with toiletries and personal care products to make living in shelters slightly homelier and more comfortable. We encourage our colleagues and local communities to bring toiletries and cosmetics that they won’t use with someone who can make a good use of it.
The project started in the UK, launched in Poland in 2017 and stretched to the US in 2018. With the help of some WPP colleagues and other partner companies from Poland we created nearly 450 boxes on International Women’s Day 2018. The 2019 edition of the project is coming right up. So if you would like to join us and be a part of Project Shoebox, please contact Magdalena Owsiana (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details.
2019 - bigger and better
As you can see, we take sustainability seriously at Cognifide. For us, this means taking care of each other, our communities, and the world around us. Each year we set aside a percentage of our profit and a portion of everyone’s time to promote and help causes that are dear to us.
As a result of our efforts, we have built a strong and trusted brand both internally and externally and we are building great relations with our social partners, based on mutual trust, collaboration and respect. We know we can make significant impact in the future.