Last fall, Habberstad AS, which is a Norwegian company delivering IT-advice, project management and recruitment services, started to reflect over what ‘social responsibility’ should mean for them. At the same time, A Drop in the Ocean was working on their strategy in which IT was one of the priority areas. Together Habberstand and A Drop in the Ocean found a sustainable solution that could work for both. They signed a deal in February 2019, and are looking forward to long-term collaboration.
About the Collaboration
“A Drop in the Ocean is an humanitarian non-profit organisation that provide support to refugees, in particular children and their mothers. A Drop in the Ocean has organised almost 6000 volunteers to Greece, where the need for help is high. The organisation is politically neutral, and provides humanitarian assistance for refugees where they are. This is not support for increased immigration to Europe, but necessary assistance for those who for different reasons find themselves in refugee camps in Greece. Most of the people will either stay in Greece or be returned to their home country. A Drop in the Ocean is covered by the Norwegian Control Committee for Fundraising, and is thus revised annually, and spends a large proportion of their raised funds directly for the purpose.”
The regular meetings filled with information and presentations with the HR and Emergency Response Manager in A Drop on the Ocean Birgit Hjelmtvedt made Habberstad convinced that a Drop in the Ocean was a serious actor and an organisation with which they could identify. Likewise, Habberstad saw early on that, as a business, they have a lot to contribute to the relatively “young” organisation that needs all the help it can get, and that they have the necessary expertise in areas outside the Drop in the Ocean’s core business; namely to help people on the run.
– The meetings we had until the collaboration was formalised in February have been about presenting A Drop in the Ocean’s need for advisory assistance, as well as presenting us as a good partner. It has also been important for Habberstad to feel that the Drop in the Ocean is a partner with whom they can identify. The fact that Drop in the Ocean has come so far in three and a half years, in addition to the fact that until now we have had few employees and many volunteers have shown that the organisation is a serious player. The way the Drop in the Ocean is structured and how we have worked strategically and thoroughly impressed Habberstad, says Birgit Hjelmtvedt.
Social responsibility help strengthen culture and solidarity
Habberstad is concerned with the fact that performing its social responsibility should be about something more than providing funds for a good purpose. In their blog post “About Social Responsibility” from autumn 2018, they write:
“It’s about something more than giving a few dollars for a good purpose instead of sending out Christmas cards. Such charity is not wrong, but we think social responsibility is something more.”
While Habberstad assists with advice related to, among other things, the selection and introduction of system solutions, IT and GDPR, A Drop in the Ocean assists with experience and knowledge of the refugee situation in Greece, the possibility for the employees to be volunteers in the field, and information meetings. In this way, corporate social responsibility will be integrated throughout the company and all employees will be involved in the various projects run by A Drop in the Ocean. Harald Mæhle, head of Habberstad Counselling, believes it gives a lot to their own business to enter into such collaboration:
– Contributing to making our society better also affects Habberstad. Because it is in this society that we practice our business. The consultants we want in Habberstad are those who are concerned with society and the community. It is these people that we believe will be the best consultants and who will also help to strengthen our culture and cohesion.
Already Well Underway
The first introductory meeting started already before Christmas in 2018, and since then there have been several meetings both related to the shape of the overall collaboration, but also on the advisory side. The collaboration is well underway and until today Rolf Haavik at Habberstad has assisted the Drop in the Ocean with everything that has to do with GDPR, says Birgit Hjelmtvedt.
– In addition to the work with GDPR, we had a start-up meeting in February 2019 with advisors from Habberstad and key personnel from A Drop in the Ocean in connection with a new administration system for handling volunteer field workers.
For other organisations that want to have a conscious relationship with their social responsibility, Harald Mæhle is concerned with making it a genuine commitment instead of thinking about it as an expense. – It is important to focus on long-term and sustainable assistance. Use the company’s expertise, services or products as the starting point for the engagement, he concludes.