After hearing about the commendable volunteer work undertaken by BetVictor employees recently, we sit down with Kim Alcantara, Director of Legal and the newly-appointed Chair of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) committee, to talk about the myriad ways in which the company is having a positive local influence through their charitable efforts.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Kim joined BetVictor during a globally turbulent period in April last year, and reveals how the first time she met her colleagues was through her computer screen.
“I joined BetVictor in the middle of a pandemic, which was interesting… I received my laptop in the post!” Kim smiles. Luckily, in the prep for Brexit, employees were already au fait with the process of working from home, so the transition was a smooth one for the company as a whole.
BetVictor already had an existing CSR committee when Kim joined the company as Legal Director, who was responsible for connecting with local charities such as Clubhouse Gibraltar and GibSams through volunteer fundraising and other events within the company.
“That’s incredible. It’s really giving back to the community.”
At the beginning of the year, BetVictor looked at restructuring the committee, and Kim was asked to chair this new format. The committee is still in the fledgling stages of this new format, but has already been involved in numerous volunteer contributions, and donations to safer gambling charities.
Kim explains: “We then began working on more of a strategic focus, the pillars of which are:
1 Safer Gambling: This is clearly really important to us as a gambling operator.
2 Sustainability and the Environment: There is no company that shouldn’t have this on their radar.
3 Charity and Wellness: This includes employee welfare.
“It’s really just about aligning everything with your strategic pillars, but it’s also about getting employees engaged.” In order to engage employees, Kim and the committee set up an internal SharePoint page, and filled it with news articles, events, training activities, and encouragement for employees to take their paid volunteer day.
Employee Volunteer Days
The company has found a resourceful way to give back to the local community, through what they call ‘Employee Volunteer Days’. The premise is simple, and effective: employees are given one paid day to carry out charity work of their choosing, outside of the office.
“For me, it’s one of the biggest draws – especially from a recruitment perspective,” Kim expresses. “In addition to your holiday leave you can take one paid day off work to help any charity you like – that’s incredible. It’s really giving back to the community.”
And what has the response been like from employees? Very positive, as it turns out. “People have engaged really well with the process. It’s great for the younger generation who are looking to forge their career path too, as they generally want to join a company who puts things like this at the forefront and who shows they care. Work is where you spend most of your time, so it’s important that your company holds the same values as you do.”
Kim tells Gib Mag of the generous individuals at BetVictor who have been involved in charitable work in their own free time, outside of the volunteer day scheme. “We wanted to put a spotlight on these people, so we choose one individual each month and highlight their good deeds via our internal post board. We’ve had people who have set up their own charities, who work with disadvantaged children in Morocco, and who help in the nearby animal shelters. There’s a lot that employees do on a personal level – we want to make sure they feel supported.”
One of the company’s most recent volunteer events was an ‘Ocean Clean-Up’ in conjunction with a local dive school, where a group of around 20 BetVictor volunteers spent the morning diving, snorkelling, and picking up litter from the beach and sea at Rosia Bay. Certainly not your average day in the office!
Dive Charters kindly provided all the diving equipment free of charge for the volunteer. After just a couple of hours, over 10 huge bags of rubbish were collected, which was then separated into recycling bins provided by the Environmental Agency.
“It was a great event and everyone got the chance to meet new people and make a difference to the local community,” Kim shares.
Working with different worthy causes can potentially have an impact on those involved, and as a result, BetVictor have brought a guidance counsellor on board especially. “We want to do the best we can in the areas we have most impact.”
“Work is where you spend most of your time, so it’s important that your company holds the same values as you do.”
BetVictor and Education
BetVictor have made donations to the University of Gibraltar, who are running a gambling awareness course. In addition, the company took on two students from the university’s business course for work placement. “Ideally we want to do that every year. In my mind, the skills that we have are teaching people about our industry and how it can be about safer gambling, which should be a safe and recreational activity, like playing golf!”
What Can You Do?
For companies who are hoping to start a similar initiative in their own workplace, Kim’s advice is to seek buy-in from the top: “You need the board to be… on board, as it were!” This is particularly significant when you look at things like supplier agreements. “Companies that you do business with want to know that your company is proactive in these fields.
“It’s no longer about doing a bit on the side to feel good about it; ultimately it should be one of the business’ goals. So, if your business produces something, one of your business goals could be to make that product as sustainable as it possibly can be. There’s no point in having a goal that doesn’t align with your business because ultimately CSR will fail,” Kim asserts.
Also, as has been made evident through Kim’s appointment as Chair, having someone at the helm who is excited and committed to making these things work will undoubtedly prove to be an invaluable asset.
I asked Kim why she thought these initiatives were important in a place like Gibraltar.
“To be honest I think they are important everywhere. I don’t think any business can be sustainable if they’re not working with the local community. It means working sensibly, ethically, and for the longevity of the business. Safer gambling is always going to be a key tenet for BetVictor; we can’t work without caring about it and making sure people get the support when they need it. Likewise, with environmental sustainability, there is no company that isn’t affected by the environment. We talk about plastic in the ocean but it’s so much wider than that; there is no business that shouldn’t care about these issues in the long run because ultimately, we’ve only got the resources that are on this planet, and they’re dwindling.”
Another Ocean Clean-Up will be held on World Oceans Day, on the 8th of June. If you are interested in lending a hand (or flipper!), contact Kim at [email protected]