Standard Life employees collectively make their mark in their community

From left to right: Sophie Fortin (Standard Life), John De Rosa (Standard Life), Joe Di Leo (Dawson College), Sébastien Niemi (Dawson College), Arizona O'Neill (Dawson College), Caroline Lavallée (Standard Life), Charles Guay (Standard Life) (CNW Group/Standard Life)

MONTREAL, Dec. 2, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Standard Life employees in Canada are celebrating today the anniversary of the award-winning community engagement program, Together, in our community, with the unveiling of a collective painting at Standard Life's headquarters in Montréal. The painting, finalized in collaboration with Dawson College students, is meant to represent Standard Life employees' mark in their community and is a legacy to future employees.

Since the launch of the program, Standard Life employees in Canada have raised close to $80,000 for, and have volunteered over 4,000 hours to, charities and non-profit organizations such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation in Québec, Moisson Montréal, Working Skills Centre and Eva's Initiatives, both in Toronto.

"This collective painting, and the increased participation of our employees in community initiatives, really shows how we can change things by working together", said Charles Guay, President and CEO of Standard Life. "I'm proud of our employees and salute them for making a difference in their community. We'll continue to support and recognize their efforts year after year."

Standard Life launched the Together, in our community program in June 2012 in response employees' wishes to be more involved in the Company's community investment projects. To commemorate the launch, employees across Canada participated in a collective painting activity. Three art students from Dawson College then polished the painting so that it's blended into a beautiful piece of art. While the original 12 x 5 feet work of art will be suspended in the lobby of Standard Life's headquarters in Montréal, reproductions of the painting will hang in all of Standard Life's Canadian offices.

Joe Di Leo, Professor of Fine Arts at Dawson College, said, "This was a challenge for myself and my students but we rose up to meet it and I'm thrilled with the results."

Together, in our community received a Gold Quill Award of Merit from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). It was recognized by the IABC for its simplicity and flexibility. The program's three components: Raise and Match, Community Action Day and Dollars for Doers are designed to support employees' volunteering efforts and provide financial assistance to the causes that matter to them. The components were launched at three different dates in 2012. Today is the celebration of the one year anniversary of the implementation and execution of all three components of the program.

About Standard Life

Standard Life provides long-term savings, investment and insurance solutions to more than 1.4 million Canadians, including group retirement and insurance plan members.

Standard Life in Canada has been doing business for 180 years and has approximately 2,000 employees. It is the largest operation outside of the United Kingdom of Standard Life plc, its parent company headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Standard Life has a long-standing commitment to the communities in which it conducts business. It gives back through corporate donations and sponsorships, and its employee community engagement program which encourages Standard Life employees to volunteer with and provide financial assistance to organizations they support.

Together, in our community

Program components

Together, in our community encourages Standard Life employees to volunteer with and provide financial assistance to organizations they personally support. Employees can participate in one, two or all three program components:

  • Raise and Match - When an employee raises at least $100 for a registered charity, Standard Life matches the amount up to $200.
  • Community Action Day -Standard Life offers employees one paid day off each year to volunteer with the charity or non-profit organization of their choice.
  • Dollars for Doers -When an employee volunteers for a minimum of 40 hours each year, Standard Life donates $500 to the charity of his or her choice. If these volunteer activities are directly related to his or her work, Standard Life may donate an additional $250.

Employee reactions

In Montréal, John De Rosa, Senior Specialist, IT Operations Centre, and his colleagues raise money for children with life-threatening diseases. In September, he bicycled in the Make-a-Wish® Quebec 48-Hours Ride. "Some of my colleagues were undecided whether to participate but they joined when they learned about the Raise and Match incentive," he said. "We've put seven teams of six together for the event and raised over $58,000 so we can make five children's dreams come true. It's a great way to put a smile on a youngster's face."

Voula Balabanos, Senior Team Leader, Investment Administration, is one of 40 Standard Life employees who used a Community Action Day to volunteer with the Moisson Montréal food bank. "We often underestimate the value of time as opposed to monetary donations," she said. "It's very rewarding to know that the food baskets we help to prepare are delivered to families in need. I plan to make this volunteering experience a regular event."

In Toronto, Standard Life partnered with Working Skills Centre, to organize a mock interview day in April. The organization empowers immigrants, primarily women, by providing education, work experience, and settlement services that ultimately lead to employment. Karen Kryshka, Consultant, Human Resources, used her Community Action Day to support the initiative. "I'd overheard employees say how they want to give back to the community but were not sure where to start.  So I was pleasantly surprised when 10 other volunteers came forward," Karen said. "We really made a difference in the lives of the 48 Native Canadian and newly arrived immigrant women who participated in the training program. We helped them build the skills they need to find work and become financially independent. The experience gave me a better understanding of the challenges some individuals face when they interview for a job. It really broadened my perspective."

Jaskirat Kaur, Manager, Business Development, volunteers for Eva's Initiatives, an organization that helps homeless and at-risk youth lead productive, self-sufficient and healthy lives. She said: "Dollars for Doers motivates me to do more for my charity. I go the extra mile to accumulate my 40 volunteer hours. With Standard Life's support, I can contribute more to my charity."

SOURCE Standard Life

Image with caption: "From left to right: Sophie Fortin (Standard Life), John De Rosa (Standard Life), Joe Di Leo (Dawson College), Sébastien Niemi (Dawson College), Arizona O'Neill (Dawson College), Caroline Lavallée (Standard Life), Charles Guay (Standard Life) (CNW Group/Standard Life)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131202_C6498_PHOTO_EN_34210.jpg

For further information:

Anne-Julie Gratton
514-499-7999, ext. 8150
anne-julie.gratton@standardlife.ca