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Apricot & The Salvation Army; working to provide housing for addicts in recovery

4/05/2013

The ongoing success of the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) across the Western Territory has seen countless individuals recover from addictions, reconnect with families and take steps to rebuild their lives. An amazing program, the ARC aims to prepare addicts for re-entry into the community.

A recent article discussed a number of initiatives that are being implemented to build bridges between members of the Corps and graduates of the ARC. Educational workshops are currently being rolled out, teaching Officers and Soldiers about addiction, recovery and the development of constructive relationships within the Corps. It is hoped that this education will help to breakdown stereotypes and lay the foundations for ARC graduates to feel a real sense of belonging within the Corps community. As Commissioner Knaggs says, “these are our people.”

As previously stated, whilst belonging to a community is vital for recovering addicts, research shows that addicts have the best chance of long-term sobriety if they are able to secure ongoing employment and have access to a safe, sober living environment.

Within the Western Territory, studies have shown that following the initial, six-month phase of treatment at the ARC, only 10% of ARC graduates remain clean and sober after one year. However, this figure increases to 69% if graduates remain at the ARC for an additional six months, and to 86% if graduates gain steady employment and have access to a sober living environment for two years.

Apricot Consulting has been meeting with advisory board members to tackle the issue of employment for ARC alumni. A program is to be implemented that will allow for online storage of resumes, highlighting the skills and experience of ARC graduates. It is hoped that board members and the wider Corps community will also begin to think about their own personal and professional networks, and be intentional about providing introductions to prospective employers where appropriate. After all, the cornerstone of William Booth’s early strategy “In Darkest England and Way Out” emphasized “work for all”, a Salvation Army commitment that continues today.

Likewise, the Salvation Army hopes to reach out to the community about housing opportunities for ARC members once they leave the residential facility. Today’s housing market has made it particularly challenging for the Salvation Army to purchase properties for sober living purposes (however, Territorial Command is still open to this idea). A more affordable option at this time involves leasing properties through the rental market.

However, some property managers may be reluctant to lease a house for the purpose of accommodating addicts in recovery. Due to stereotyping and a lack of awareness, some may in fact believe that their investment houses will be exposed to vandalism, theft and a lack of respect for property.

In reality, proposals made by the Salvation Army to lease housing pose no threat to property owners. Indeed, landlords will know more about their tenants who have just exited the ARC program than they do the average renter. Firstly, residents are not permitted to use drugs or alcohol. Residents have established themselves as law-abiding citizens. Residents must undergo regular urinalysis and breathalyser testing and are required to work and pay for their own living expenses. Residents are also required to keep their living quarters clean and tidy and there are no pets allowed. There would be no additional costs to housing owners, as rent will still be paid in full by the Salvation Army.

With regards to rental costs, residents of each property must pay ongoing program service fees that cover the monthly rent in its entirety, making the transaction cost neutral for the Salvation Army. The reason for referring to this cost as a ‘program service fee’ rather than ‘rent’ relates to the strict rules and regulations provided by the ARC. If an individual breaches any of the program rules they may be evicted from the property by the Salvation Army. However, if direct rental transactions were made between tenants and their landlord, a landlord would be unable to evict a tenant for breaching rules outlined by the ARC program (e.g. bringing alcohol onto the property).

Each sober living facility will be assigned a resident manager to supervise the behavior of all tenants to ensure that the rules and boundaries previously enforced at the ARC continue to be upheld. These rules are designed to aid the recovery process and are strictly enforced. In the absence of the resident manager, tenants will also be held accountable to each other. Those living in sober housing will likely continue to enforce the rules set by the ARC, as the behavior of one can negatively influence the recovery of others.

Ideally, it is hoped that the Corps will be responsible for finding and developing sober living accommodation and turning it into a ‘home’. This move is likely to grow the Corps population by boosting a sense of engagement and belonging among residents who will also be encouraged become a part of the Corps community. However, it is advised that professionals from the ARC maintain control of housing supervision and regulation, as the ARC consists of trained staff who are experts in addiction and recovery and are able to easily identify problematic behaviors and scenarios.

Today we are writing to all Salvationists; Officers, Soldiers and Adherents, to remind our community about classic Salvation Army Mission, helping to bring wholeness in body, mind and soul to those in need. By leasing investment properties and/or providing introductions to those who can, you can be engaged in the healing process of recovering addicts and help them as they journey towards a self-sufficient and drug-free life.

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Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility in Brazil

17/04/2013

Current funding model/need for change

Internationally the Salvation Army operates in 125 countries, with funding predominantly coming from the Salvation Army in a small number of Western (or industrialized) nations. Eighty percent of this funding is generated by the Salvation Army in the United States. Western Territory Commander, Commissioner James Knaggs has recognized that the current model of funding for the Salvation Army is not sustainable, and that a new model is necessary for the future. With increasing emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in Western society, Commissioner Knaggs is looking at an alternative model of funding, one that emphasizes corporate partnerships as the way forward.

Definition of CSR

CSR may be defined as an organizational approach whereby corporations assess and acknowledge their responsibilities relating to the environment, employees, consumers and the community. Large corporations that generate a great deal of money, assets and power have been made accountable for their impact on society, often referred to as a ‘licence to operate.’ Rather than engaging in philanthropy by simply providing financial support to community organizations and their projects (e.g. Salvation Army), organizations are becoming increasingly involved in projects that target social change and sustainability. CSR initiatives aid an organization’s mission by demonstrating compliance with the law, ethical standards and environmental legislation. Furthermore, they can generate positive public relations, increase corporate competitiveness and enhance employee engagement.

Salvation Army Brand

As a trusted organization with a high public approval rating, the Salvation Army is an attractive partner for Western companies looking to engage in CSR. Corporate leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits that will come from implementing philanthropic endeavours in conjunction with the Salvation Army. This partnership promotes ‘cause-related marketing’ where there is mutual benefit for the two organizations. The Salvation Army Western Territory has also recognized the immense opportunity in partnering with first-world corporations outside of the United States.

Salvation Army and Brazil

One country that is in the midst of rapid economical growth is Brazil. Indeed, over the past few years Western companies have been flocking to Brazil and the country has cemented its place as the seventh largest economy in the world. In times of economic uncertainty for many nations, it is predicted that Brazil will increase its annual gross domestic product by 4.5 percent in the lead up to 2014 and take its place as the fifth largest economy in the world. As the next host of the soccer World Cup, over 250,000 jobs and $24 billion in investment will be generated over the next two years. Indeed, further growth is anticipated following the World Cup as Rio de Janeiro will also host the 2016 Summer Olympics. While Brazil’s recent economic success has seen 20 million people from a population of 190 million rise out of poverty into middle class, much work still needs to be done to improve human rights, labor rights, environmental rights and importantly, reduce corruption.

Government schemes targeting social inequality have been implemented to ease the contrast between rich and poor, giving high priority to discrimination, and discrepancies in salary among women and ethnic minorities. Legislation now requires large corporations to spend a minimum of 2% of profits on initiatives that aim to effect social change. This legislation also applies to Western companies who have opened offices in Brazil. As a result, opportunities for the implementation of new CSR projects over the next few years are abundant.

What has been done so far

The Salvation Army has operated in Brazil since 1922 and has extensive programs that demonstrate classic Salvation Army Corps and social services. Indeed, Brazilians have not forgotten the relief work provided by the Salvation Army for the 83,000 people left homeless following the floods that devastated the north-east in 2010.  The Salvation Army has also been recognized for assistance provided to rescue workers following the tragic plane crash at the Sao Paulo airport in 2007 that killed up to 200 people. Over the past ten years the Salvation Army has built constructive relationships throughout Brazil that has seen the successful development and functioning of thrift stores, with profits being filtered back into the community. More recently, the Salvation Army has been carrying out very valuable work, targeting extreme poverty demonstrated in Brazil’s poorest neighbourhoods known as favelas. This work certainly captures the heart of the Salvation Army and beautifully demonstrates its mission aimed at helping the poor and transforming lives.

However, much work still needs to be done to improve living conditions; providing safe shelter, access to food, clean water and sanitation. Due to societal problems, Westerner’s travelling to Brazil to conduct business are often placed in unsafe environments where there is a risk to the safety of individuals and their families.

What will be done in the coming months

Over the coming months, the Salvation Army Western Territory will be connecting Western businesses with offices in Brazil with the Salvation Army in Brazil to implement initiatives aimed at helping the Salvation Army’s work in Brazil. Projects will aim to reduce homelessness and domestic violence, and improve opportunities for education and employment. The Salvation Army understands that CSR initiatives need to be conducted with sensitivity, respect for the Brazilian culture and awareness of community values. Over time, it is hoped that the Salvation Army in Brazil will become self-sufficient by attracting corporate partners. As a result, increased financial support will help the Salvation Army to secure an effective funding model at the international level, and continue to improve the social welfare of people living in Brazil, and throughout the world.

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Why change management can make or break your project

27/03/2013

Our partner company nSynergy has been providing specialist SharePoint Consulting Services since 2004, helping to give businesses the competitive edge. nSynergy places a strong emphasis on knowledge transfer throughout client engagements to ensure the long-term sustainability of programs. nSynergy have engaged the services of our change management experts at Apricot to successfully implement User Adoption initiatives that will compliment current approaches to technology enablement. Today’s article will address two important components of change; business alignment and people engagement, and will provide further detail about how we at Apricot work to implement change.

 

Business Alignment

Grounded first in assessment, at Apricot we prepare our clients for the journey that they need to make by assessing the current organizational climate. Business alignment is essential to the adoption framework because without it, businesses will not be able to build momentum or keep adoption levels high enough to provide continuous, ongoing value. It involves the assessment of five key areas:

  1. Organizational Assessment
  2. Coalition
  3. Vision, Mission and Values
  4. Project Management
  5. Governance

Organizational Assessment involves understanding organizational structures and leadership paradigms. We identify the ‘key players’ who we will be working alongside to initiate change, and who is best equipped to influence change among the group.

Coalition highlights the need to create a sense of urgency and momentum around the need for change with key stakeholders. We work to convey the message that change is being implemented for the greater good of the business, to help staff function more efficiently, not simply for the sake of change.

Creating a simple vision and mission that people can grasp and remember is central to the change process. At Apricot, we ensure that staff members (at all levels) are involved in the development of organizational values. This helps employees who may not be commonly involved in decision-making processes to identify with, and express ownership over the long-term vision of the organization.

When implementing change, Project Management involves establishing a holistic strategy, plan, timeline, and milestones to ensure that the change lasts. When ‘wins’ are made (i.e., successful completion of certain milestones) we aim to implement processes that recognize and reward achievement.

The final process of business alignment at Apricot involves as assessment of Governance. It is vital that the terms of use, policy and procedures encourage appropriate participation while protecting critical IP and meeting compliance obligations.

 

People Engagement

Following the assessment of processes relating to business alignment, people engagement strategies can be implemented. The five key components of people engagement include:

  1. Cultural Assessment
  2. Recognition
  3. Communication
  4. Education
  5. Key Influencers

Culture is the engine room of the organization. The best way to measure an organization’s culture is to engage with its employees and learn about “how we do things around here.” Any consultant entering a new organization is required to take note of its culture and adapt accordingly. Apricot founder and CEO Derek Linsell was once the CEO of the AFL Foundation, a predominantly male sporting environment where irreverent language is often considered the norm. In stark contrast, Derek has also worked extensively with the Salvation Army, an evangelistic organization dedicated to helping the poor and unfortunate by bringing them into a meaningful relationship with God. In both cases, it was imperative that Derek be aware of the organizational culture in order to engage employees and be accepted by the group. It would have been inappropriate for Derek to use poor language in the presence of Salvation Army Officers, just as it would have been inappropriate for him to initiate a meeting with AFL executives by opening in prayer. Culture is related to productivity, and we at Apricot are aware that it heavily impacts analysis, planning, risk and ultimately the success of user adoption initiatives.

Recognition processes promoted by Apricot encourage positive behaviors by linking them to performance, rewards, and goal achievement. Similar to the implementation of taxonomies for collaboration, recognition process provide clear guidelines and promote standards of behaviour that employees are encouraged to strive for.

When introducing new IT solutions, we at Apricot ensure that employees understand new methods for viral and programmatic communication. Employees should feel supported and understand that there are structures in place for when assistance is required.

Importantly, establishing programs for onboarding, ongoing learning, and knowledge retention is vital for the change process to be effective. New staff members need to be properly educated and trained in new processes, not simply shown the ‘old way’ by employees who have not properly adopted the new system. In addition, employees should have access to ongoing training, and learning should be assessed regularly, either formally or informally.

Similar to understanding organizational structures and leadership paradigms during the business alignment process of change, we believe it is necessary to identify and empower advocates who will inspire others to engage. It is equally important to defuse resistors (i.e., find out what forces or people might dampen enthusiasm). In most cases, 20% of the group will feel positive about change, 20% will feel opposed to change, and the remaining 60% will be unsure about change. Our aim at Apricot is to engage the middle 60% to bring the proportion of the group who are positive to 80%. In order to this we work with organizational leaders and make sure that they are intentional about promoting change and demonstrating their own adoption of new strategies.  After all, a new IT solution is only successful if people use it.

 

Our final thoughts

Adding user adoption solutions to technology enablement leads to a more attractive, comprehensive package and an improved ability sell. Furthermore, deeper engagement with customers can lead to ongoing relationships, additional projects and increased revenue. A win for everyone.

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Go with it – never against it.

12/07/2012

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Never up.

Can’t we all learn from this? Not just about kayaking, but about so many things in life. Particularly when it comes to harnessing the position on corporate social responsibility in your organisation.

I recently found a great piece on TriplePundit, where they discussed the business around corporate social responsibility in major sporting events and the impact they can have globally.

They used this equation: BUSINESS = SPORT + ENTERTAINMENT with PHILANTHROPY, CSR and GREENING as side shows…to one where: BUSINESS = SPORT + ENTERTAINMENT + SUSTAINABILITY – which really sums up how we should be looking at this.

Gone are the days of patting the sick child on the head in hospital for a good photo opportunity – now, we can be part of establishing a better life for that child and many more in the same situation.

Or instead of writing a cheque for a village in Africa, go and see what they are really dealing with and get your hands dirty in the process.

At Apricot, we are continuing our work with the North Melbourne Football Club, creating a sensational CSR program that will differentiate them from the other clubs and ultimately, become leaders of the pack.

North Melbourne community embodies a wide variety of cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds. The work Apricot will do with the Kangaroos will tie them closer to the immediate community.

Joining up the recent partnership with World Vision to the community, both in North Melbourne and potentially Africa as well, will be vital to embracing The Kangaroos as game changers and begin to set them on the path for a huge program.

What we have discovered over the course of creating these programs for clients is about the massive affect it can have, locally, nationally and globally. With the right tools, knowledge and passion – it can really save lives.

The journey with CSR in sport is not one that has been broadcasted and is not commonly associated together, but significant impact they have already on the public makes CSR so much easier.

In a report funded by the UEFA Research Grant Program, Dr Geoff Walters and Richard Tacon discuss corporate social responsibility in European football and how CSR has not been reported on in the sporting industry in general until recently.

The role of sport in society has become more prominent and as sport organisations have become increasingly influential members of the global community. The concerns of transparency and accountability evident within the corporate world have transferred to sport. This has led some to suggest that sport organisations cannot ignore CSR and that they have to implement it. 

Sport organisations have, over the last few decades, engaged with various CSR imperatives, including philanthropy, community involvement and both youth educational activities and health initiatives.

Much of the research they have done led them to compiling seven key aspects to utilising CSR in a sporting organisation.

  1. The popularity and global reach of sport can ensure that sport CSR has mass media distribution and communication power. That is, the prominence of sport within the media helps to promote and communicate CSR activities to a wide audience.
  2. Sport CSR has youth appeal: children are more likely to engage in a CSR program if it is attached to a sport organization or a sports personality.
  3. Sport CSR can be used to deliver positive health impacts through programs and initiatives designed around physical exercise.
  4. Sport CSR will invariably involve group participation and therefore aid social interaction.
  5. This can also lead to cultural understanding and integration.
  6. Particular sport activities may lead to enhanced environmental and sustainability awareness.
  7. Finally, participating in sport CSR activities can also provide immediate gratification benefits.

With these in mind, the process of creating a stand-out CSR program for the North Melbourne Kangaroos will be a challenge, but we are ready to get our hands dirty for this and potentially change some lives.

 

 

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Embedding CSR into an organisation’s heart and soul.

20/06/2012

Chairman of Ford Motor Company, William Ford Jr. once said, “social obligation is much bigger than supporting worthy causes. It includes anything that impacts people and the quality of their lives.”

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is what is changing those impacts and the quality of people’s lives. It is now being used more and more in the heart of the business strategy. This includes its HR strategies, marketing strategies as well as the thinking behind investor relations.

There are still sceptics, there will always be – but the changes and significance of having a CSR program implemented for many organisations globally, is huge. The variation of transparency on environmental and social commitments, waste management (not just physical waste but power etc) all the way to employee engagement to bringing about massive social change is what makes CSR sexy.

There are points which CSR covers across the board that affect daily running and optimally the strength of companies. To start off with CSR is important for human resources (HR). Why? And who says so? Some HR Managers would argue they already do plenty towards CSR in the company such as employee wellbeing and volunteer programs, so what makes sustainability any different?

To attract and retain the best employees, organisations have to be the best. Employees are very conscious of their own employee brand. They don’t want that “damaged “by a tainted organisation or company brand. The best organisations today are those that are innovative, fun, safe and are impacting the world in a way beyond themselves.

So what about employee engagement and retention? Surely that is a basic connection between CSR and HR?

Without happy and encouraged employees, you struggle to find a happy, fulfilling workplace. The CSR programs and initiatives set up have a huge role in both how staff feel about the company and its schemes and also, whether it is portrayed through staff productivity.

This is particularly apparent for new graduates heading into the workforce who are now on the lookout for these sustainable, transparent organisations. Many are even willing to take a cut in pay, for a company that would encourage volunteering and have a positive environmental footprint. A stat from Harvard Business Review in 2011, stated that –

88.3% of graduating MBA students said they would take pay cut to work for firms that have ethical business practices, and the average amount they’d forgo is $8,087, according to a survey of 759 students in North America and Europe.”

NetImpact also recently completed a study across all generations, and found many of the ‘new generation’ millenialls expect to make an impact through their work.

This brings out a new trend called ‘impact careers’ – which is simple terms means making positive social/environmental differences through one’s work.  A motion not commonly associated with previous generations of workers.

Generation Y, particularly those with a college education, have been taught throughout their lives to think globally. They are instilled with feelings of becoming a world citizen. This is particularly enforced by technology such as the internet, social networking and increased global mobility.

But although the internal dealings are important, the stakeholders and external interests cannot be forgotten either.

Investors are constantly putting up their money behind organisations that participate in ethical behaviour in their business practices.

Particularly areas such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling or weapons manufacturing are typically avoided – unlike what was reported in Jakarta Post last month reporting tobacco firms targeting minors via CSR programs!

For the most successful and effective corporations, CSR is now a major consideration of overall strategic planning. It affects many aspects of the corporation’s life: its people, consumers, suppliers and investors – prime example of the BP oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf Coast. Now three years on, BP has spent around $150 million into promotions to help recover the region – with a very large positive impact being made on residents and local businesses.

As many organisations do not yet get this concept, implementing these practices will ensure responsible and socially aware corporations are ahead of the curve in HR strategies, marketing strategies as well the relationships with investors and will be around for the long haul. Knowledge is no longer power; responsibility is.

 

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