Prudential UK joins the premier league

with the CommunityMark

Our UK business is one of only 38 companies to achieve the BITC CommunityMark since it was launched in 2007.

Achieving Business in the Community’s (BITC) CommunityMark is formal recognition of Prudential UK’s ‘premier league’ status for community support. Since the scheme was first launched in 2007, only 38 companies have been awarded the mark. Businesses who qualify have to pass a series of rigorous assessments designed to test their full commitment to living up to the values they espouse.

Barry O’Dwyer, Deputy Chief Executive, Prudential UK and Europe, explains why the business felt it was the right time to apply: “The reason we were so keen to apply is because the CommunityMark provides tangible evidence of our progress. It’s the highest mark of excellence and allows us to benchmark ourselves against the very best in this area.”

Applying for the award is not something that businesses undertake lightly. In fact, it’s often the case that BITC will have to satisfy itself that the business is at a sufficiently mature stage in its community involvement before it will allow an organisation to proceed with an application. As Barry says: “It’s not an easy hurdle to clear. A good deal of work had to go into this. We approach community involvement as we would any other part of the business – on a commercial basis. We do a cost-benefit analysis of proposals and programmes to understand the impact we will make with every initiative we pursue. We dedicate a considerable amount of resource to this, and we measure the outcomes. Community investment and volunteering are fully integrated into the business and that’s why I think that the response we get from colleagues is so strong. In 2010, almost 30 per cent of our colleagues took part in volunteering. It has absolutely taken root in the DNA of the organisation. Colleagues are passionate about what they do in this area and that’s really important to us.”

Communitymark

30 

%

of UK colleagues
volunteered
in 2010

Specialist Schools and Academies Trust


Commitment through good times and bad

The financial crisis has forced all businesses to focus hard on costs but, with community involvement, according to Barry: “There has never been an appetite to cut back.” He explains the reasoning: “We recognise how important this is to colleagues, and it’s fundamental to the way we think about our business. We don’t have thousands of representatives out in communities across the country anymore, but community involvement is still core to our brand and resonates with our customers. It’s absolutely central to our approach to give something back to the communities in which we do business.”

“It’s absolutely central to our approach to give something back to the communities in which we do business.”

One of the assessments that BITC makes when awarding the CommunityMark is the extent to which community involvement is embedded in the business. That is often demonstrated by the degree to which community activities are relevant to the services or products that the business provides. Accordingly, financial education is a major focus of Prudential’s community work and that’s because, according to Barry: “There is an absolute link between poor outcomes in retirement and a lack of financial education. So, one big focus for us is helping to improve financial knowledge. We have a long-term commitment where we are seeking to ensure that school children receive better financial education.”

Utilising the skills and expertise of colleagues will become an increasing focus of our community work in the coming years. That may mean school mentoring projects as well as working with older people. As Barry explains: “We want to focus on enabling colleagues to get out to different parts of the community so they can pass on some of the skills they have acquired working at Prudential.”

“One big focus for us is improving financial knowledge. We have a long-term commitment whereby we are seeking to ensure that school children receive a better financial education.”

Tanja Rasmussen, Director of the CommunityMark Programme for BITC, explains how the CommunityMark process operates and the high standards that every company applying needs to reach: “We really put businesses through their paces when they apply for the mark, acting as a critical friend.

15,000 

people have visited
the ‘Adding up to a
Lifetime’ website

They need to demonstrate more than simply a commitment to the community. They must be able to substantiate what they are doing, and we submit those claims to independent verification.” The 360-degree evaluation that the BITC team carry out includes detailed discussion with partner organisations, and – on this measure – Prudential scored particularly well, says Tanja: “Prudential received the best feedback from partners that we have ever seen.”

One of Prudential’s longest partnerships has been with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT). Nicola Garrett, a Programme Manager at the Trust, explains how Prudential’s support for – and involvement with – the ‘Adding up to a Lifetime’ programme has been a key element of its success. “It’s very much the case that we do this together, working to develop new ideas to make sure we keep up to date with new developments in financial education. We give each other feedback so that the programme remains as relevant and useful as possible.” An example of this in action was the 2010 launch of the ‘Adding up to a Lifetime’ programme as an online resource. This has greatly increased the programme’s reach, and with more than 15,000 visitors to the site to date, has proved to be an enormously successful demonstration of the partnership.

Barry believes that Prudential’s community involvement is important to all the business’s stakeholders: “Part of making Prudential a great place to work is attracting people who share our values. Supporting our communities goes to the core of those values as something we care about deeply – we believe the footprint we leave behind is important.”

Top of page