Timberland’s ethic of doing well by doing good is engrained in the culture our company. Because we are a global company, however, a key question confronting our Corporate Social Responsibility team based in New Hampshire is how to export that integral part of our corporate DNA to offices overseas.
Timberland’s European headquarters (EHQ) is in Wexham Springs, UK Like other global offices, our Wexham office has a Global Steward. Timberland’s Global Stewards program was launched in 2005 and conceived as a way to ensure Timberland’s commitment to CSR is implemented consistently worldwide. The program taps a team of passionate individuals who volunteer above and beyond their regular job responsibilities to serve as ambassadors of CSR to their local countries and offices. The Global Stewards are managed by regional leads—in the case of Europe, our European CSR Manager Anabel Drese is responsible for all European Stewards.
Our Global Steward in the Wexham office in 2009-2010 was Richard Ashcroft, who also serves as European Sales Analyst Manager. In his two years as a Steward, Richard identified a need to improve local employees’ engagement in community service. Timberland’s Path of Service™ program is instrumental in this regard, by giving full-time staff an annual benefit of up to 40 hours for community service. Richard’s task was to increase employee awareness of the program at our European headquarters while accommodating diversity within the employee community, so that no one felt obligated to support one particular cause. And he needed to make sure the program remained active year-round.
To accomplish this goal, Richard needed the support and engagement of employees in his office. With the guidance of Anabel and Timberland’s European Leadership team, he gathered the Wexham Service Committee, a core team in place to support Global Steward activities at EHQ, and charged them with enhancing involvement, communication, and teamwork. “We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel on what we viewed as an already a successful Path of Service™ program,” Richard says. “Instead, we wanted to build on existing programs and initiatives and take the opportunities for engagement to the next level.”
Because the Global Stewards program brings our community together to share ideas and suggestions for how the program can be utilized, Richard was able to borrow many of the ideas he learned from other Timberland teams around the world and apply them to Wexham Springs. “I wanted to make sure we were playing our part globally,” as Richard puts it, “And I also realized I would be reliant on the goodwill and support of my colleagues to make the program a success.”
That included making sure the team included a representative from each department—and from the wider community, in terms of age, seniority, gender, and skill set. With all team members encouraged to give input, Richard and his team were able to set clear goals and expectations, which he and the Wexham Service Committee communicated to the entire staff.
The response was stunning. Once aware of the service benefit available to them and their flexibility in how they chose to use it, Timberland’s Wexham employee community began serving more and their commitment to community service shone through. “Once they became aware of the role they could play through the Path of Service™ program, they realized what an exceptional employee benefit it is,” says Richard. “And they also realized they would not be as fortunate to experience it as an employee at a different corporation.”
The projects that drew the most participation throughout the year were those that involved helping to conserve two local country parks, Black Park and Langley Park near the Wexham Springs office. “As an outdoor brand with a passion for the environment, we’ve been fortunate to have established a long-standing relationship with the park rangers,” explains Richard. “They’ve been able to offer opportunities for large groups of people to work on specific tasks.” He notes that that has been particularly helpful with regard to Timberland’s two annual service events, Earth Day and “Serv-a-palooza,” where it had previously been a struggle to find service opportunities for groups of approximately 200 people.
Other popular service events close to our European headquarters have involved the Britwell Family Action Centre, Heathrow Special Needs Farm, Wexham Park Hospital, and Sue Ryder Hospice.
The numbers reflect this impressive outpouring of support. A total of 6,251 hours were volunteered in 2010—an increase of 41% over 2009′s total. That figure includes an increase of 20% in the number of hours served by employees alone—quite an accomplishment on the heels of a 20% rise the previous year. But even more remarkable was a jump of 140% in the number of hours served b business partners, friends and family—who come to Timberland service events because employees invite them to participate. Plus, 58 Wexham Springs associates fully utilized their 40-hours Path of Service™ program in 2010, as opposed to just 37 in 2009.
“With senior management’s backing and encouragement, the Path of Service™ program has given employees the opportunity to pursue their passions with the goal of balancing commerce and justice,” reports Richard. “I have seen and heard firsthand how thankful and grateful our nonprofit partners are to receive support from the Timberland community—not only here, but all round the global Timberland community.”