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[Feature] FedEx Express & OzHarvest Partnership To Feed New Zealand

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|Dec 29|magazine15 min read

FedEx is easily one of the most recognizable courier delivery services in the world. But the company doesn’t just deliver your mail—it also delivers on its commitment to its surrounding community and staff.

Back in September, I wrote about corporate social responsibility in New Zealand (New Zealand Playing Catch Up In Corporate Social Responsibility, September 19th), specifically, what it was lacking. About a week later, a representative from FedEx Express Australasia emailed me about the company’s efforts in the community, focusing on collaboration with OzHarvest, Australia’s first perishable food rescue organisation. I have never been more willing to be proved wrong.

“We believe that many opportunities facing our business are directly linked to the ways that we interact with the communities where we operate,” said Kim Garner, managing director. “We see being a good global citizen as a critical component in our business strategy.”

Through his time at FedEx, Garner has learned that by giving back to local communities, employee engagement increases. High employee engagement leads to a better work environment, happier employees and, perhaps most importantly, employees that want to come to work. In New Zealand, FedEx’s employee engagement efforts have earned the company the AON Hewitt ‘Best Employer’ recognition seven consecutive years.

FedEx’s annual involvement in OzHarvest’s Cooking for a Cause is an “unforgettable corporate team building experience that is interactive, educational, inspiring and of course lots of fun—with a tangible social impact,” said Ronni Kahn, social entrepreneur and founder of OzHarvest. “Throughout these sessions, OzHarvest also educates the team about the work we do in the community, the issue of food waste, food security and homelessness in Australia.”

OzHarvest And FedEx Cares Week

Although in two different businesses, FedEx and OzHarvest are similar in several ways. Success for both lies in logistics, with OzHarvest delivering thousands of meals via van, and both obviously care for the surrounding community. These similarities led Kahn to approach FedEx in 2011 with the idea for collaboration.

“Our partnership over the four years has seen a continuous growth in staff participation in charity events year on year, as well as expanded our reach to engage FedEx staff in Australian cities—Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne—and 2014 saw us work together over the seas in Auckland and Christchurch,” shared Kahn. “Our key engagement program is Cooking for a  Cause – a fun, hands on cooking workshop, led by a professional chef, in a commercial kitchen where teams cook hundreds of meals ready for immediate distribution by the OzHarvest vans to those in need in Sydney.”

The collaboration with OzHarvest on the ‘Cooking for A Cause’ initiative was part of our FedEx Cares Week 2014. FedEx volunteers provided support to OzHarvest by giving their time to collect, cook and distribute meals for those who are in need. FedEx Cares, its week-long annual initiative, is a global event with close to 10,000 employees donating 46,000 hours of volunteer service in 2013.

Outreach’s Impact On Company Culture

With such an informative, interesting opportunity for its employees, FedEx’s involvement with OzHarvest and Cooking For A Cause doesn’t just benefit the community—employees also reap some benefits. By providing staff the opportunity to give back and have a positive impact makes them proud to be a member of a socially responsible company.

“This helps us retain and attract talent important to the success of our business,” Garner explained. “We’re pleased that in 2014 FedEx was named in Forbes’ top 50 of the World’s Most Reputable Companies and the AON Hewitt ‘Best Employer’ for seven consecutive years, a significant recognition of our efforts in helping local communities.”

“The benefits of staff participating in our Cooking for a Cause program are boundless,” shared Kahn.  “Getting the staff together to bond over a common goal encourages team cohesiveness and allows them to spend time together in a meaningful, fun and interactive environment. Not to mention the personal satisfaction for each person in knowing that they have contributed to those less fortunate in society. For the participating company, this goodwill flows on to create positive and charitable culture within your organization greater staff engagement. Many studies show that providing staff volunteering opportunities leads on to greater employee retention.”

Sometimes employers forget that the company’s employees live in the same community it could be helping with CSR initiatives. Not only can a company offer employment to an individual, but it can better the community in which that individual works.

“We are committed to giving back to the local communities where our team members and customers live and work,” said Garner. “We encourage all of our employees to volunteer in the communities and consistently receive positive feedback from employees who take great pride in seeing their contribution go a long way towards helping the lives of others.”

Changing New Zealand’s Current CSR Approach

Garner believes that education for businesses is the most important aspect of bringing New Zealand up to speed with corporate social responsibility. The benefits of implementing CSR initiatives and the knowledge that the success of a company is connected to the success of its community are just a few things Garner suggested.

“FedEx believes that being a good global citizen is a core value in our business,” said Garner. “Our CSR involvement helps to reinforce relationships with the community and strengthens our company for a brighter future.

“ [...] Global citizenship is not a secondary activity; it should be a core value of the business. By integrating this into every day decision making processes you can make a significant positive change in your communities. As part of being a good Employer you should view CSR as a long term investment which demonstrates your commitment to your employees, customers and communities. The benefits of CSR can be seen by higher employee engagement levels and better customer relationships that prefer to collaborate with a responsible business.”

One of the easiest ways to find success with corporate social responsibility is to find a charity that “aligns with your mission, and that actively works together with you to create a meaningful partnership,” shared Kahn. “It can’t just come from the top (although you certainly need management onboard) it is paramount to a successful partnership that your staff are also onboard and given the opportunity to be part of the relationship.”