Savills Hamilton Osborne King: Developing a Graduate Excellence programme

Business in the Community Ireland

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Company Description:
Savills Hamilton Osborne King (SHOK) offers expert advice on all property matters such as sales, lettings, professional services and property management.

Business Issue:
We wanted to make a positive and lasting commitment to the development and implementation of our CSR charter. Operationally we had two objectives. Firstly, our CSR activity had to enable our staff to utilise their knowledge, skills and expertise to make a meaningful change and to have a very positive contribution on society, ideally on an individual level. Secondly our CSR charter had to support the ethics and underlying values and behaviours in the firm.

Solution Applied:
Operating a formal, measurable CSR element in our Graduate Excellence Programme accelerates personal and professional development and enables our Graduates to put their learning into practice by giving something back to the community. We worked with Business in the Community Ireland to develop a key tool to support us in developing these factors in our staff and to enable them to learn from volunteering. The performance of each community project is measured internally and with the community partner.

Company Benefits:
A strong community investment programme is important to the property industry. Additionally, volunteering leads to better retention rates of colleagues. Colleagues develop their skills while volunteering and all colleagues are better motivated to work for the organisation and our clients as a result of their experience of volunteering. In our view, business should not ignore these real benefits.

Stakeholder Benefits:
The Focus Ireland project group secured five residential properties and a crèche. Commenting on this work Elli Willis, Development Officer, Focus Ireland stated that “the team at Savills Hamilton Osborne King has responded to a challenging brief and provided valuable assistance, advice, insight and innovative thinking to help us secure housing for vulnerable households in Dublin. Their knowledge of the market and relationships with key stakeholders will allow us to gain momentum and secure more housing going-forward”.

We had a serious concern that some cynical people might spread the perception that these projects would be some kind of “meals on wheels” charity work. This did occur in some areas as there was a concern that the CSR activity, requiring time away from their desks would impact negativity on our ability to service our clients and develop business. This was overcome through persistence and tenacity and a refusal to allow a small minority of negative voices overpower the positive.

Establishing buy-in from the management team was critical. In particular it is critical to note that our Chairman and a range of key directors were unrelenting in their support and once the formal launch occurred, the feeling throughout the firm was that this is both a worthy and essential strategic initiative.

Departments Involved:
All departments have been involved and the graduates are encouraged to recruit assistance from their colleagues, thus expanding the reach of the initiative.