district m launches its Volunteer Program: Stronger Together Day

By Marie-Claude Gosselin
Wednesday, January 21st 2021

Starting a volunteer program in the middle of a pandemic may be a hard task to achieve, but, at district m, we believe that now more than ever is the time to help others. We are proud to launch the Stronger Together Day initiative, with a goal to not only to give back to those in need, but also to make sense of our place in society. 

In 2010, about one-third of volunteers said their employer had a program of policy to encourage volunteering. Furthermore, according to a recent study, a whopping 60% of Canadians would volunteer more if it would be organized by an employer.

What made us decide to launch the program?

A few months ago, after reviewing the company’s Officevibe score, we noticed the score for ethics & social responsibility was on the lower scale. Instead of brushing it off and focusing on the areas we are achieving in, we decided to address it. We focused on the real question: what are we, as a company, doing to better our communities, at large and on an individual level? District M has participated in many events in the past from Leucan ski fundraisers to being a trusted partners to the BEC’s Bal en noir, participating year after year to events raising awareness for mental health for people working in the media industry. However, with the arrival of Covid-19 and the cancellation of many of these volunteering opportunities, where did that leave us now?

December: Welcoming the Month of Joy

Over the past few months, we have found new ways to connect together, by organizing virtual events to gather everybody’s spirit. With the holidays fast approaching and with the month of November, the month of wellness, coming to an end, we wanted to highlight a season which we believe is about giving back.

Last December, we launched our first Bingo Rally. The goal was to fill up your bingo card by completing specific tasks (such as watching a Holiday movie, drinking a hot chocolate, making a snowman) to enter the final draw. The three winners won a sum of funds that would be donated to the charity of their choice. 

Furthermore, in the spirit of the launch of the volunteer program, we hosted a logo design contest, in which districters needed to showcase their creativity. The winner of the logo design contest received a 4-course dinner for 2 valued at $300, with all proceeds donated to Leucan.

In December, we also launched our first workshop of our Diversity & Inclusion program, promoting our diverse workplace.

logo_concept_logo_contest

What is Stronger Together Day?

“Our goal is to increase district m’s positive social footprint in the community and create a culture district m can be proud of.”

After carefully reviewing our options, especially in the context of Covid-19, we decided to launch the program. One day per year each districter can participate in an activity and charity on the day of their choice. We believe giving districters the option to be flexible and independent in their choice of social, environmental or cultural causes was important. We, of course, also provide a list of local and global charities they can explore in more detail. For the time being, the Stronger Together Day initiative is offered on an individual basis, with the hopes of having a full day in the near future we can participate in altogether.

What are the benefits?

We saw in this initiative a way to increase our employees’ engagement & morale. Providing districters a way to give back through the company can help them grow a sense of belonging. Respected and supported employees are proven to be more productive and satisfied with their working conditions, and by giving them an opportunity to volunteer, especially during working hours, provides them with a sense of community and makes them feel trusted. It can also encourage them to develop skills on a more personal level and thus make them gain motivation and pride in their work. This motivation and new feeling of empowerment can also result in new ideas and desire to innovate at work. Volunteering is in this manner a good way to re-energize the brain and see things differently. Social initiatives are also a great way to increase brand awareness and enhance the company’s profile. Happy employees make the best brand ambassadors. 

And of course, the first reason behind all this is to give back to the community. Business aside, we have a duty as people to improve our communities to help build a better future. We are not only talking about monetary donations, but also about giving time and sharing knowledge. Money does not replace the feeling of warmth and gratitude behind the gesture of dedicating time to others. Nor does it replace the empowerment and growth that sharing knowledge and skills can provide. 

Chris Nash Buddy Program

“Every January, I add the same words to my yearly resolutions: make sure to take the time to give back to the community. Although I do have a fair share of volunteer experiences in my past, I know I can always do, share and give more. This initiative is just the push to take the time to think about what I care about, and to focus some time and energy on it.”

Lauralyn Lamarche, Head of design, district m

The pandemic does not make things impossible

Covid-19 definitely amplifies the need for volunteer programs, however, social distancing measures make it hard to act. With all the implications behind the pandemic, we wanted to make sure that our employees would feel comfortable about the experience. This is why we decided to implement an optional volunteer day. 

Loretta picture

“We contacted several organizations, looking at different options such as partnerships, in person activities, online activities and more. We reached them out by telephone, by email, and even online applications! What we found was that the closures and restrictions forced many non-profits and charities to pause new partnership opportunities, some even closed doors: However, many of the individual options were still available. Although this limited district m’s vision to launch an official volunteer day, we still felt it was the right time for district m to stand behind its employees if they chose to reach out to their communities. What better way to support them, by allowing the flexibility to use your day when and how you want! This really works well with the constant changing restrictions, and it is optional, so no one feels forced to do anything. All we asked was everyone comply with the recommendations and restrictions, and most importantly, be safe!”

Loretta Carreño – Senior Business Analyst, district m

Our plans for the future

We hope districters will use the Stronger Together Day initiative to fulfill their volunteering goals this coming year, helping them develop new skills and interests that they can benefit from at work and in their personal lives.

Chris Nash Buddy Program

“I have never worked for an employer who allocates time and care to social concerns, and I’ve always been too shy to get involved on my own. I am happy that district m is launching its own program because it provides me with the encouragement I needed, knowing that I am supported by an entire team – who happen to be my co-workers!”

Marie-Claude Gosselin – Graphic Designer & Marketing Coordinator, district m

If you have any suggestions for volunteering organizations, please do not hesitate to write to us below.

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