In fall of 2021, Katerina Machacova was missing her company runs.
After more than a year of pandemic lockdowns, she wanted to organize something again for her teammates at Semperit, a rubber manufacturer with headquarters in Vienna and production sites in 15 countries. But in-person team runs still weren’t allowed due to company policies created to protect the staff in the best way possible.
Katerina found Charity Miles and decided to try virtual runs, open to all 7,000 employees instead of just her teammates in Vienna. “I thought, why not? If we do everything virtually, we can do it with all of us,” says Katerina.
“The Executive Board was very excited about the program, they were all in,” Katerina adds.
“Due to the previous restructuring, our company has not been involved in many charity activities in recent years and we intended to do something in this direction in the future. So [Charity Miles] was more or less in the perfect time at the perfect place. It matched all that we were looking for without knowing we were looking for it.
Semperit is choosing a different topic from their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy each month and then “matching the topic with a local charity that is either close by to a factory [in one of our production countries], or is important to people who work there,” says Katerina.
For October, they chose She’s the First. Katerina loved their “simple story” of “supporting girls that are the first in their families to get an education.”
She’s the First met Semperit’s ESG goals of supporting empowerment of women, children, and education, as well as supporting diversity and inclusion. And there was a “big resonance from the organization” because they could donate directly to India, one of their production regions.
From November onward, “we will pick [charities] that are proposed by our local site management and our local people, so that they have the additional motivation of contributing to something that is close to their heart and to their homes, and also targeting one of the topics from the ESG strategy,” says Katerina.
Semperit employees started using Charity Miles on the 1st of October, and within two weeks they had donated an incredible $3,500 USD.
Employees of all activity levels have been participating, from those cycling long miles to work or training at the gym to people hiking with family on the weekends. “Semperit's country of origin is Austria. And Austrians are all about hiking!” jokes Katerina.
“Since we started, many people have decided to stop using public transport to get to work and have switched to cycling or walking,” she adds.
“For me personally, when I have the option of walking somewhere instead of using public transport or driving my car, I do it. And I wouldn't be doing that without Charity Miles.
“It's the extra nudge, something that motivates you to move when you have the option.”
On top of giving back to communities close to their homes, employees are connecting with each other too.
“I heard from some sites that our colleagues are reaching out to the first placed person on the dashboard from their local site with questions and tips. When do you go running and do your cycling? Can I join you? So, there are also some local connections being made.”
So far, the majority of the employees participating are white collar, but Semperit is working on engaging more blue collar employees. “We’re figuring out how to get people on board who maybe don’t speak English,” Katerina explains, “because we are an internationally-operating group.”
Semperit has already had an amazing impact supporting She’s the First, and we’re excited to see the difference they’ll make in the next months as they support charities all over the world.