In March 2021, Age Action launched a new CSR programme: the Age Action BIG Corporate Challenge, where BIG stands for “Be Intergenerational.”
This programme for corporate teams promotes intergenerational connection whilst raising funds and awareness to support our Age Action’s work.
By pledging to “Be Intergenerational,” participants increase understanding across generations, which is key to transforming attitudes towards ageing and achieving a more inclusive society that values all of us as we age.
The Age Action BIG Corporate Challenge is now headed toward the conclusion of its first run after six months of intergenerational connection, fundraising activities, and awareness-raising workshops for participating corporate teams. Together, the teams have brought hundreds of staff to participate, with employees deepening their understanding of ageism which contributes to diversity & inclusion work – all while raising funds for Age Action.
Three of the four corporates are BITCI members who are signatories to the Elevate Pledge. By deepening their own understanding of ageism and perceptions of age in the workplace, these companies: Fidelity Investments, Sky Ireland, and Ervia can begin to build age into their thinking about diversity & inclusion at work.
For each team, the value of intergenerational connection became apparent throughout the course of the programme – especially as staff engaged with the concept and impact of ageism.
“My participation in the programme has definitely changed how I see support for older people, and how it affects every generation, and the different challenges that people will experience in terms of ageism throughout their lives. The most rewarding part for me was definitely the touchpoints. We got to know Age Action better, and the conversations we had and questions we were asked just had us thinking a little differently – things I never would have thought of otherwise” said Will McKenna from the Sky Ireland team.
Each team’s fundraising activities have helped inspire intergenerational connection. At Sky Ireland, staff can now purchase the Sky Family Cookbook, a compilation of favourite heirloom recipes, kid-friendly meals, and easy family dinners. As one recipe reads: “For as long as I remember, we’ve eaten sausage meat stuffing with our Christmas dinner. My nana on my mam’s side made it and taught her, and my mam taught me. It has always been my favourite thing to eat at Christmas dinner.”
The Fidelity Investments team chose to widen the net, asking staff to reach out within their communities to create intergenerational connection. Through their “Pay It Forward” initiative, Fidelity’s staff spent time with older and younger people in their families and communities, doing everything from donating clothes to charity shops to helping older relatives re-fit their kitchen cabinets. The staff even took inspiration from Age Action’s existing Care and Repair service, which provides free DIY home repairs in the homes of older people to help them maintain their homes and independence. when some staff supported their neighbours by keeping their gardens in trim after two years of missed gardener visits during COVID.
Ervia thought outside of the box when it came to their fundraising campaign, which creatively wove together the themes of intergenerational connection and biodiversity to honour Ervia’s commitment to sustainability. Their “Great BIG Garden Show” encouraged families to enter categories like Best Pollinator-Friendly Garden, Tallest Sunflower, and Biggest Marrow, while their Carbon Footprint Challenge asked staff to include their families in a two-week challenge to reduce emissions and support environmental cleanup. Ervia also ran a tree-planting initiative, linked with Easy Treesie and Cránn, to encourage staff to sponsor the planting of native Irish trees. Sponsors received beautiful certificates with the proverb “One generation plants a tree, another gets the shade.”
Intergenerational connection is a key antidote to ageism and ageist attitudes, which are prevalent in our society but rarely talked about or included in mainstream conversations about D&I work. To help participants engage with our work more deeply, Age Action ran three interactive workshops with the teams. Together, we learned more about recognising ageism, looked deeper, what it means to live in an age-friendly community and explored perceptions of ageing in the workplace. The workshops included guest speakers like Ailbhe Smyth, Activist and Age Action Board member, and Senior CSR Adviser of Business in the Community Linda O’Sullivan.
BIG Programme Awards Ceremony 4th October
The ceremony featured BITCI CEO Tomás Sercovich on the panel of judges, alongside Age Action CEO Paddy Connolly, Age Action Board Member Ailbhe Smyth, and THINKHOUSE Founder Jane McDaid.
For more information on this corporate programme, contact Melanie Steinhardt, Corporate Partnerships & Philanthropy Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org