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Event Showcase | A Night in Jail (a brilliant example of CSR)
In this event showcase we’re taking a look at Corporate Social Responsibility and how events can impact and support change…
We’ve all heard the term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), but what does it actually mean?
The Australian Human Rights Commission explains –
“The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is understood to mean that corporations have a degree of responsibility not only for the economic consequences of their activities, but also for the social and environmental implications.”
For event planners, we’re often asked to create events that take this concept into consideration. It’s now more important than ever that companies show their staff and their clients that their philosophy and purpose is far more than making profits. Demonstrating a company’s CSR program can influence consumer and investor decisions, as well as attracting and motivating staff (especially with Millennials).
So, when we got wind of a unique CSR-driven event organised by UnLtd – a social purpose organisation connecting the media, marketing and creative industry with charities working with at-risk children and young people – we were keen to find out more.
To learn more Event Birdie were invited to Verizon Media’s in-house studio to hear the Managing Director Paul Sigaloff talk about how one event organised with at-risk youth charity, Whitelion changed his outlook on juvenile detention centres and forced himself to ask the question, “how as a company leader can I do more to support those with less opportunities?”.
Let’s take a closer look at this brilliant event and its impact for good…
The Event | Adland Bail Out
Senior managers from Australia’s top media, advertising, tech and creative agencies spent the night in jail as part of the Adland Bail Out, raising $178,000 for UnLtd’s charity partner Whitelion. In order to be released from prison, everyone involved had to raise at least $1,000 “bail”.
After spending a night in the now decommissioned Yasmar Detention Centre, and only getting a small – and rather theatrical – taste of what kids in juvenile detention experience, this experiential event concept was able to communicate a strong message that really delivered home to the participants.
So, what is a night in jail really like?
On arrival and standing out in the cold, attendees were told to drop their bags and line up before a gruelling round of star jumps and press ups. Volunteer actors posed as very believable guards as attendees were interrogated, told they were useless, and called numerous names before being finger-printed. They were then told to hand over all of their possessions, forced into prison overalls and locked into cells with one open bathroom, before being woken up again at 6.00 am for more gruelling exercise in the cold.
After being identified as a “King Pin” for raising over $5,750.00 in the event lead up, Paul was able to have dinner first, but also then became a person of “target” in prison, resulting in feelings of isolation and segregation.
Reality, Bravery and Hope
Whilst in prison, the in-mates for the evening took part in a series of eye-opening and thought-provoking workshops which highlighted the realities and difficult choices many young people at risk face daily. Paul identified this was one part of the event that “cut him like a knife”.
The sheer bravery for past prison in-mates to come back into the facility to tell their stories, (many admitting that this would produce an amount of post-traumatic stress for them) was what really hit home.
Paul reflected on the experience…
“Many of our youth don’t often have a choice; they are part of a vicious cycle linked to drug addiction and poverty. As a whole our society has failed – prison teaches our youth to become better criminals, which is not positive. Prison is not a place for children.”
More than Beans
As part of the workshop, attendees got to hear from one past prison in-mate on how he has risen up against the “labels” that society created for him when coming home from prison as a young man to a small country community. There were no second chances given to him. Since then he created “More than just beans”, a coffee van that trains people to become professional baristas, helping break the cycle, giving them career options and hope of a life off the streets.
And, that’s also where Whitelion comes in. Whitelion is a charity that connects at-risk young people with the community to educate them to make positive and often life-changing choices through practical and effective support such as mentoring programs, education and employment.
Funds raised by the charity give young people a chance to turn their lives around – to develop the skills and confidence they need to contribute to the economy and connect with their community. They believe work and a sense of belonging will transform lives.
Verizon Media and CSR
After his jail experience, Paul has made a conscious decision to ensure Verizon Media is a part of change.
Verizon Media will open up entry-level roles in the company to create opportunities for employment and a support network to young people in need of a chance. Paul is also going to volunteer his time as a mentor and role model for the charity.
As a senior leader, Paul’s approach to management at Verizon Media is to coach and mentor along the way and to encourage staff to solve their own problems, which is the same approach he will take to mentoring with Whitelion.
“You can guide and advise; however, people have to fix themselves.”
This CSR experience has been life-changing for all those who participated in the event, and as a result of the outcomes, it will be life-changing for those in need too.
Listening to Paul reflect on this experience you couldn’t help but jump on board with his thoughts that it’s time we all stepped up to help those less fortunate than ourselves….
“When it comes to “fixing” social problems many of us think, ‘Society will sort that out. We have charities that exist for that and that’s what they should do’.
But WE are the society, every one of us needs to contribute (even just a little) to make a change.”Paul Sigaloff | Managing Director, Verizon Media
Charities, such as Whitelion need more funds, awareness and volunteers to beef up their efforts to make a lasting difference and that is where WE (that means you) can help.
To learn more about Whitelion – to donate or get involved go to: https://www.whitelion.asn.au