2009 PR News CSR Award: Employee Relations

Lumina for BT Community Champions

Connecting employees who are scattered around the globe is a monumental challenge for any organization. This challenge became particularly salient to BT executives when they sought to execute a campaign around the company’s “Community Champions” program, which serves to celebrate the diversity of employee-led volunteering efforts and to promote sustainable community involvement to all stakeholders.

“One of the greatest challenges facing BT is the disparity of its workforce,” according to Beth Courtier, head of BT’s Charity Program, and Joanna Sheehy, project manager at agency partner Lumina. “As a global employer with almost 105,000 employees, it has been necessary to use a number of channels to enable messages regarding the employee relations program to touch as many individuals as possible.”

The program, led by BT’s corporate responsibility unit, gives employees the opportunity to apply for cash grants to support their personal volunteer interests and then celebrates their efforts at the annual BT Chairman’s Awards.

To ensure that all BT employees had the opportunity to participate, the team “devised a communications strategy that taps into business units, diversity champions, judges and ‘ambassadors’ of the [program], who are called upon to promote it,” according to Courtier and Sheehy.

Not surprisingly, BT’s digital assets were integral to achieving the desired results. The team leveraged the following online components:

  • Internal Social Network: “This is an online network where employees can post items relating to [things like] birthdays and reunions, so we have visited the channel to encourage winners to post their experiences from the program, facilitating user-created messages instead of BT-driven content,” Sheehy says.
  • Dedicated Web Site (www.btcommunitychampions.com): This forum hosts videos from recent BT Chairman’s Awards winners to bring the program to life.
  • Internal Blog: Used to facilitate conversations among employees about their own volunteer efforts.

“Using emerging channels has allowed us to communicate with and learn from a new demographic group,” Sheehy says. “Within this digital landscape, we feel it is necessary for individuals to continue to use their own voice to differentiate from the ‘noise.’”

Based on the campaign’s results, the team did just that. Community Champions has received support from external organizations, including the London Benchmarking Group and the Corporate Citizenship Company and has also contributed to BT’s No. 1 ranking in the Dow Jones Global Sustainability Index.