Sarah Shaw, our corporate responsibility consultant, reflects on a fantastic year and shares a glimpse of what we have planned for the year ahead as we continue to demonstrate our commitment to giving back to our communities.
It’s been a busy year here at TransUnion (formerly Callcredit) with the huge and exciting change of becoming part of a global organisation. As a leading risk and information solutions provider, and a business that is recognised by Forbes as one of the Best Regarded Companies of 2018 worldwide, TransUnion’s reach extends across 34 countries and whilst we will continue to focus on our many local initiatives and the charities we support here in the UK, we’re delighted to have an even greater reach now and to benefit from the extended pool of knowledge and support that comes with our worldwide family.
That said, the firm foundations that we’ve laid with our local programmes will be something we continue to build upon, so our new status will simply enhance the work we’re already doing. For example, we’ll be continuing to tackle the gender pay gap within the technology sector with our #GirlsIntoTech programme, which has been a huge hit in 2018. When we looked into the reasons for the current imbalance, one of the issues was the lack of women entering the sector – often due to lack of awareness about the opportunities available within data science and technology, and false assumptions that it didn’t offer career opportunities for women.
Encouraging girls to enter the world of tech
Our aim with #GirlsIntoTech was to demonstrate, first-hand, what it means to work in a tech company and we wanted to reach out to female students early enough, before the notions are set and exam paths have affirmed career choices, so we focused on Year 10 – when students are starting to think about future plans as they start their GCSE exams but are still at an early stage in terms of their subject selections.
And it worked. To give one example, we brought a group of nine students from Bradford Girls’ Grammar School to spend a week here at our headquarters in Leeds and transformed their views and even saw some reconsidering their career choices. Meda, aged 15, described her #GirlsIntoTech experience as a week filled with “information and inspiration” whilst 14-year-old Muzna said: “It has shown me so many other career paths I would never have considered.” If you missed our video of the girls, you can still catch it here.
To get the maximum value of the programme, we also combined it with our #WorkInspiration scheme which aims to equip students with the skills they need for the workplace. For this we successfully engaged the whole of the Year 10 group – 109 students – with a range of activities; from practice interviews to career workshops.
Meanwhile, further afield at our Lithuania office, we implemented a ‘Future engineers’ programme to introduce school students aged 14 to 18 to different fields of engineering, including aviation engineering, mechanical engineering and information technology (IT). Around 1,500 students have been taking part in the initiative, which combines study and workplace visits, with very positive feedback.
Nurturing our own talent and inspiring others
However, our promise to address the gender pay gap wasn’t just about looking at the future workforce, we also promised to upskill and empower women in our business currently, to help prepare them for leadership roles, and so we created our ‘Women in leadership’ group.
Working with five high-potential women, the aim was building confidence and acquiring the skills and a toolkit to influence senior stakeholders, and to gain credibility in a male-dominated environment. Their six-month programme consisted of one-to-one coaching, targeted masterclasses, and active learning focused on leadership concepts, and all participants were assigned a formal, senior-level, business mentor who they met regularly.
With this year’s cohort having recently graduated, the feedback has been fantastic, with one participant stating: “The programme has been immensely beneficial. I’m a totally different person to who I was this time last year, thanks to a hugely increased level of self-belief and confidence, as well as an extremely tight network with my peers on the programme.”
As well as making a difference within our organisation today, these women have taken their new skills to local schools to inspire the talent of tomorrow, with a bespoke mentoring programme, developed with IntoUniversity, and are currently supporting 16 female students from Mount St Mary’s School, Leeds.
Jane Dickinson from IntoUniversity added: “The response we had from students was overwhelming and we’re pleased that working with TransUnion we’re able to support a large group, as programmes like this can have a huge influence on the future direction of these girls’ careers. Developing a relationship with a female role model can nurture and encourage them, as well as teaching them real workplace lessons and skillsets, to set them up for a career that knows no limits.”
Altogether, our colleagues have worked with over 500 young people as part of #WorkInspiration, partnering not only with IntoUniversity but also Mosaic Enterprise Challenge and the EY Foundation.
Volunteers give more than just time
And that’s just one element of what we’ve been doing. With a paid ‘Volunteering time off’ day each year, colleagues have been choosing different ways to support our communities, with almost a quarter (22%) of our volunteers this year opting for skills-based volunteering, using their skills and knowledge to benefit a local charity or community partner.
Others opted for a more traditional approach, with one group putting their green fingers to good use and helping to transform a sensory garden at a learning disability service in Bradford. The group of 12 colleagues worked tirelessly to transform the tired and overgrown garden at Shipley Resource Centre into a tranquil space designed to stimulate the senses and allow residents to experience the outdoors in a safe and stress-free environment.
Where charity meets wellbeing
Then, of course, there’s our work with colleague-nominated charities. This year our main charity partner was MIND, linking with our own health and wellbeing priorities and helping them in their work to provide mental health information and support. Alongside fundraising – and we’ll be confirming our annual total shortly – we delivered a number of events to help raise awareness, as well as developing our Mental Health for Managers’ training, launching our own Mental Health First Aiders and running our first Health and Wellbeing Day.
The theme of wellbeing also tied in with our ‘Bike user group’. We wanted to reduce our environmental impact by supporting our existing cyclists and encouraging more people to cycle into work. We’re very proud of our dedicated cyclists and are delighted to have seen an increase in numbers this year and hope this will continue to rise as we further improve facilities to help this group continue through the winter months.
It’s certainly been a busy year. So, what’s ahead for 2019? Well, we’ll continue what we’re doing, but we’ll also be looking at introducing additional programmes, with the aim of supporting brighter futures for vulnerable populations around the world by advancing financial inclusion, education and child protection, and we’ll be doing our bit to provide support in whatever ways we can. In January we’ll be announcing our 2019 charity of the year, following a colleague vote, so follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn for updates on that.
To all those who have supported our community and charity initiatives over the past 12 months – in ways big or small – we want to say a heartfelt thank you. It’s a result of collaboration and a shared commitment to giving back that we can achieve as much as we have.
Find out more about TransUnion’s work in communities around the world here.