Fujitsu Ireland and National Council for the Blind of Ireland: Enabling disability through technology

Overview of the Partnership

Fujitsu Ireland and National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) initially entered into a 2 year partnership in 2017. As a result of the success of the initial 2 year term, Fujitsu Ireland and NCBI agreed to extend for a further year in 2019. NCBI is a leading Irish Charity working for the increasing number of people nationwide who are affected by sight loss.

The rationale for selecting this partner was based on our shared values. Community involvement and development is at the heart of our company’s business strategy. We aim to tackle issues that impact society and contribute positively to local communities, ensuring Fujitsu Ireland can be a positive force for change.

The partnership with NCBI aligned with Fujitsu’s Community involvement and development mission that “We will build collaborative partnerships to engage and empower communities to help create positive social impact.” In Fujitsu Ireland and across Fujitsu globally, Diversity and Inclusion underpins our ambition to build a customer-focused, agile, innovative and high-performance culture. Our Diversity and Inclusion mission states that “We believe in the power of human difference to create a better future in a digital and diverse world.” NCBI’s similar focus on creating a world where their service users can fully participate in all aspects of society, aligned with our mission and together we created shared value.

NCBI’s main objective is to ensure that people who are blind and visually impaired can lead independent lives and fully participate in all aspects of society. This includes being able to actively participate in the workforce. In Ireland, visually impaired people face extraordinarily high unemployment rates, only 1 in 4 are employed. With this in mind, we set the overall objective of the partnership to reduce youth unemployment for those with visual impairments.

Our partnership with NCBI Employment Services set out to build confidence in service users by providing them with the skills needed to progress beyond the interview stage into internships and meaningful employment. We provided service users with CV creation and Interview Skills workshops to improve their chances of securing employment. Since implementing this, six of NCBI’s service users are now in full-time employment. In addition, we engaged SureSkills training to carry out skills workshops free of charge during our partnership and this will continue beyond our partnership’s cessation in 2020.

In implementing our Diversity and Inclusion mission, Fujitsu Ireland employees took part in the Audio Publication project, a unique employee engagement programme which allows teams to work together while giving back to the community. Our employees were welcomed to the NCBI Library and Media Centre to record short stories that were converted into audiobooks. During the partnership, thirty seven Fujitsu employees recorded three publications for the visually impaired library members. This initiative allows service users to rediscover literature and aligns with NCBI’s goal of service users participating in all forms of society.

Also aligning with Diversity and Inclusion, we established “Inclusion workshops” where Fujitsu employees had the opportunity to walk in the shoes of those who are visually impaired. This was achieved by covering the employee’s eyes with specially made blindfolds. This allowed the employees to connect with the service users, and to get a real sense of the challenges that the service users faced.

Implementing Best Practice

Fundraising is foundational to our partnership. Our annual fundraising target of €10,000 each year for NCBI has been reached and exceeded each year due to several fundraising activities, with a total of €32,748 raised to date.
For the past three consecutive years, we have participated in NCBI’s important calendar events.

The Cycle of Light is a 25 km cycle which takes place in the darkness of night to symbolise the challenges faced by those with visual impairments. Fujitsu Ireland has taken part in this fundraiser annually since our partnership began in 2017. This year, 1,300km was cycled in darkness by our team who raised a total of €4,500.

Dine in The Dark is a national fundraising campaign that challenges people across Ireland to dine blindfolded to raise awareness and vital funds for life-transforming sight loss services in Ireland. During our partnership, we sponsored the Dine in The Dark and took part in Dine in the Dark events in restaurants across Dublin.

Fujitsu Ireland has joined the NCBI’s team for the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon each year of the partnership, raising a total of €4,436. In 2020, we participated in an additional fundraising event alongside NCBI – Runamuck. This challenging obstacle course through bog land in Kildare was taken on by five of our employees who together raised circa €2,200 for NCBI.

Locally, we arranged our own fundraising initiatives within Fujitsu to reach our annual targets. Over the past three years, this has included an onsite Pop up Clothing shop, an Open Mic night, Raffles, Bake Sales, Games such as the Big Wheel and Beat the Buzzer, Table Quizzes and Golfing Tournaments to list but a few.

In addition to fundraising over the past three years, Fujitsu Ireland has contributed €42,000 in Corporate Donations, €20,000 through our onsite Clothing Recycling Bank and €20,000 towards the Technology Transformation Project. In total, all of these contributions has amounted to the grand sum of €116,300 which has been utilised by NCBI to provide life-changing services to those with visual impairments. All that we have achieved is a testament to the hard work, dedication and generosity of our employees who share in our commitment to create a more positive, inclusive and prosperous society.

As a leading Global Technology company, our ambition for Community involvement and development is to enrich society through technology. Technology acts as an enabler for those with disabilities, and it was our objective to enrich the lives of the NCBI service users by sharing our technical capabilities.

In 2019, Fujitsu Ireland contributed 20,000 to a Technology Transformation Project which included the provision of 17 Fujitsu Compact High-Performance PCs and Curved Ultra Wide Quad High Definition 34-inch screens to the new established NCBI Tallaght Training Centre. The uniform focal view of the screens allows for better ergonomics and increased comfort. The HD visuals facilitate normal viewing and works in in conjunction with Screen Magnification software. This new modern training facility is designed to facilitate the training of blind and visually impaired users in the use of technology both for employment and personal use purposes. This project enforces our mission to reduce youth unemployment, and to create inclusiveness in our society.

The Impact of the Partnership

The impact of the three-year partnership has been profound. NCBI and Fujitsu Ireland have created shared value throughout the partnership, which has benefited both organisations.

Impact on Fujitsu Ireland: As an organisation, Fujitsu Ireland has benefitted greatly from our participation in this community centric endeavour. It has increased the awareness of the challenges faced by NCBI users and the importance of facilitating change. In 2017 we were successfully reaccredited with the BITC BWR Mark with a score of 85%. Our existing and prospective customers are also proud recipients of the BWR Mark and this shared strategic focus on being a responsible business has led to Fujitsu being successful in new business and renewal tenders with such customers. Our strong reputation as a responsible business, is ever growing and we are now considered to be a sustainable leader in the technology industry. The motivation to engage in CSR is of contemporary importance and we as a business, hold the Community Involvement and Development pillar as an integral component of our business strategy. Our dedication and commitment to the success of our charity partnership has been a positive differentiator in attracting talent.

We have seen the benefits of our employee engagement with the community by providing our employees with an outlet to participate in philanthropic and humanitarian actions which in turn, boosts employee morale and fulfils a sense of purpose. Over the year alone, more than 500 volunteering hours have been contributed by our employees on NCBI initiatives.

Impact on NCBI: On NCBI’s partnership with Fujitsu Ireland, Chris White, CEO of NCBI, said that
‘’ We are delighted to continue to engage with the team across a number of activities, from Awareness Training sessions to rallying teams competing in the Women’s Mini-Marathon. What really stands out for us is the company’s genuine enthusiasm and interest in the impact their partnership and fundraising efforts have on the lives of the people we support. Every day in our centres across the country, we provide practical and emotional support, rehabilitation services and hands-on training to help those who need our services, to live independently and confidently. The Fujitsu team are with us every step of the way. Thank you.’’

Fujitsu’s Impact in 2019

Fujitsu provided €14,580 in cash donations; €30,526 was contributed through in-kind donations and over €15,409 was raised through employee fundraising. Employees also volunteered over 666 hours to local groups and projects during the year.

Back to Business Impact Map