HomeInterviewMargaret Mortlock, Pfizer: When setting up your CSR programme, work with a group of colleagues representative of your organisation

Margaret Mortlock, Pfizer: When setting up your CSR programme, work with a group of colleagues representative of your organisation

KindLink Global invited Margaret Mortlock as Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Pfizer UK, to answer two questions around CSR programmes and, specifically, volunteering. 

What are some of the lessons learned at Pfizer that you could pass onto smaller companies that are trying to put CSR at the core of their business strategy now?

Margaret Mortlock: In order to run a successful CSR programme, it is important that the senior leaders of any company, large or small, are supportive of your programmes, not only in rhetoric but through being actively engaged in the programmes and promoting these to their teams. Ensuring your CSR programmes are at the heart of your business and leaders see the value of these programmes and not a distraction to the ‘day job’. Focus on one or two key topics and build over time, rather than establishing a large and varied agenda that will not get buy-in from the business.

When setting up your CSR programme, work with a group of colleagues representative of your organisation in numbers and disciplines, so that you get buy-in from the whole organisation and the priorities for your CSR programme reflect your key business – i.e., as a health company, we wanted to focus on health-related issues embracing the national programme for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). We offer colleagues volunteering days, as well as match funding when colleagues fundraise. You may want to offer a Payroll Giving programme as an incentive to colleagues. All these initiatives help to build your CSR programme.

Pfizer employees get volunteering days off in the UK. What are some of the projects that they have supported and what were then lessons learned through such initiatives?

Margaret Mortlock: Pfizer colleagues get involved in a range of volunteering opportunities; these are primarily around health and prevention, but also involve charities that are close to colleagues’ hearts. The key priority is that the charity is a UK-registered charity and the volunteering is carried out within the UK.

Examples include: supporting conservation, homeless projects, food banks. Skill-based support including: web design, marketing advice, and setting up spreadsheets. We have also held workshops for local charities to understand their business priorities and support with writing a successful business plan.

The lessons learned include: have a clear plan of action with timeframe, so that each party knows what will be expected of them on the day of the volunteering – this is particularly important with skill-based volunteering. Ensure health and safety guidelines are in place for some activities and ensure colleagues are covered during the volunteering time. All our volunteering takes place in work time, Monday – Friday, so that colleagues are covered by our insurance policy.

We do face significant challenges with charities who charge corporate organisations a fee for volunteering, as our donation is our time rather than money. 


(KindLink is a platform where businesses and charities connect and manage their corporate social responsibility, fundraising, volunteering, donor CRM, and measure and share their sustainability impact.)

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