In Brazil, one of the original four pilot countries, the program has flourished by employing a unique approach in which local DHL employees from all levels volunteer their time in hands-on workshops to tutor and mentor youth from the favelas. This not only provides inspiration and role models for the kids, but is also a valuable and eye-opening experience for the employees. The initiative has been so successful that it has spread to more than 30 countries, with many more on the horizon.
Ariel, 15, nervously tells the group of her dreams of one day becoming a biologist. She is one of two dozen young people gathered in the DHL meeting room in São Paulo, all of whom come from disadvantaged or broken families in the surrounding favelas, or slums. Anyone who grows up on the periphery of São Paulo tends to learn early in life that dreams are quickly shattered. Two-thirds of all children in the favelas quit school before they graduate, often because the pressure to support the family is high. So, too, is the probability that the lack of a high school diploma will lead to a vicious cycle of unemployment, violence and criminality.
After moving from a broken home to the SOS Children’s Village of Rio Bonito and joining the program it runs in partnership with DHL’s GoTeach initiative, Ariel has gained the courage to dream about a promising future. Thanks to the DHL employees who volunteer their time to teach and mentor young people like Ariel, she has the spirit to defy the odds, working hard to break free from the clutches of poverty and pursue her dreams.
Partnership of hope
Deutsche Post DHL Group entered into a partnership with SOS Children’s Villages in order to build bridges to the world of professional employment for young people like Ariel. Every young person in that room in São Paulo made the choice to be there each Saturday morning – just like the DHL employees who volunteer to mentor and teach these teens.
Over a period of 12 weeks, the DHL volunteers help to prepare these young people for professional life. Career planning is on the agenda, along with an overview of DHL and its three business units, as well as such fundamentals as mathematics and Portuguese. Domingos is one example of the DHL volunteers spending their Saturday mornings here. He is familiar with the difficulties that the participants are facing – from personal experience. Like many other Brazilians, he came to São Paulo with his family in the 1960s as economic refugees from the drought-stricken northeastern part of the country, and has had to work hard to rise up out of poverty. He feels strongly that, through GoTeach, he can make a difference in the lives of these young people, admonishing them to “Study and try as hard as you can! It’s up to you!”
At DHL, our corporate citizenship activities are designed for effective, long-term impact, and are an integral part of our corporate strategy. Through our GoTeach program, we strive to achieve long-term improvements in educational opportunities and employability for young people worldwide.
We rely on our employees and on partner organizations to be able to carry out these programs and maximize their impact. Our employees are the ones who dedicate their time, experience and enthusiasm to actually implement the activities. And, we always need to have an experienced partner in these activities – normally a specialized NGO (non-governmental organization), because we are not the experts in specific social cases – they are.
We always make sure that, whatever we do in corporate citizenship, it involves a social case and a business case. This is more than just about charity and giving money – we try to leverage the assets we have as a company, including, first and foremost, our people.
Relevance – personal involvement
From the start of our partnership with SOS Children’s Villages, we wanted to take a different approach, by interacting directly with the beneficiaries of the scheme. This was something new for SOS Children’s Villages.
However, we were able to demonstrate how the opportunity to interact directly with DHL volunteers, see their working environments, and learn from their different experiences would benefit the youth in the program. The example of Brazil demonstrates the beauty of this concept. We employ a workshop environment in which the young people, aged 15-20, meet with DHL employees from different job profiles, levels and backgrounds at DHL sites, working together on issues that will help them become more employable.
Measurement – knowing what works
But even more important than these skills, and what makes this program so powerful, is the direct interaction with the DHL people. Just based on their experience, our employees are natural mentors when it comes to the process of entering professional life. They themselves have applied for jobs, they hire young people, and they are familiar with the systems of education and career development in their respective countries. Our people on the ground in all partner countries are almost 100% locals, many of whom have managed to overcome similar challenges that these young people are now facing.
Our people are authentic role models for these youth when it comes to employability in Brazil. As soon as they start sharing their experiences – of how they got there, who helped them, what mistakes they made and what they learned – the kids in the room listen intently, because that is their most valuable learning experience. The young participants learn that they can break the cycle of poverty, get a job that allows them to support their families, and one day be able to send their own kids to school, giving them the best possible chance at a better future.
An evaluation of the program showed impressively that 85% of the young program participants perceive the volunteers from DHL as role models. This is a strong proof of concept and evidence for the relevance of GoTeach program.
This is why it is vital to involve people from different levels in the company. We have learned that every employee at DHL – from top managers to middle management, to delivery drivers and warehouse technicians – has something valuable to contribute.
This also provides a unique opportunity for our employees as well, giving them the opportunity to expand their own horizons and improve their social skills in the process.
Governance – taking root, spreading far and wide
SOS Children’s Villages, next to Teach For All, one of the key partners of the GoTeach program, is active in 135 countries and is almost as global as Deutsche Post DHL Group. When the partnership was launched in 2010, we started in four countries – Brazil, Madagascar, South Africa and Vietnam – and developed a collaborative model, working on the issue of employability for young people aged 15-25. Over the years we then added partnerships in countries on all continents, like Haiti, Panama, Uganda, Swasiland, Thailand or Lithuania, only to name a few.
Constantly looking to grow the program and increase its impact, we won people over from the DHL business units to become program managers in all regions with responsibility for managing the partnerships and helping the countries with the necessary planning and monitoring. As part of the global team, they now help develop GoTeach further to create as much impact on the young people as possible.
Now in 2018, after eight years, we have a pretty good feel for this – what the levers and the dos and don’ts of the partnership are – and plan to add more countries as well as more opportunities. In fact, we encourage our employees in all countries where SOS Children’s Villages is active to think about starting a relationship on a national or local level. We provide the concept and business model of the partnership, and encourage our people to join in, bring in customers and partners and support the overall mission of the partnership, which is fostering employability of young people coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.
How the local teams tackle the issue of employability in each country is left completely up to them, resulting in a huge variety of different programs and activities. But they are consistently tailored to the needs of the youth and the opportunities available to them in the individual countries, and are designed to involve as many DHL people as possible from all levels. They also all address the same key issues: life skills somehow related to employability, wider job-profile orientation, as well as first-hand experience in a professional working environment.
We are very proud about how this has taken root and is growing, as well as of the commitment shown by our employees in Brazil and in so many other countries, and hope to see many more follow their lead in future.
We also share our expertise in GoTeach now in the SOS Children’s Villages led initiative YouthCan! where we invite others – especially corporate partners – to join, support the case and help SOS to keep their promise to as many young people in as many countries as possible.
Collaboration – GoTeach – Improving educational opportunity, employability and life skills
The goal of our Group-wide GoTeach program is to improve educational opportunity, employability and life skills for children and young people who are socio-economically disadvantaged due to poverty, loss of family and fleeing. Deutsche Post DHL Group teamed up with its partners SOS Children’s Villages and Teach For All almost nine years ago and committed to the common vision to enable children and youth to fulfill their potential by developing their mindsets, life skills, and capacity to reach their aspirations and connect them to the world of work. For all of our GoTeach activities, our employees share not only their time but their own individual expertise and experience. For more information: www.dpdhl.com
Corporate Programs for Children´s Rights
Please see Global Child Forums Corporate Programs for Children´s Rights report – where we’ve studied the programs of 13 companies, and identified four building blocks needed for a corporate children´s rights program to achieve maximum positive impact: Relevance, Governance, Collaboration, and Measurement. Click here to see full report.
Christoph Selig has been responsible for the development and the implementation of the international GoTeach partnership between Deutsche Post DHL and SOS Children’s Villages since April 2010 and has been actively involved in the design of the Global Programs on Education for Deutsche Post DHL Group (GoTeach). In his current role he also takes responsibility for the refugee aid initiatives of Deutsche Post DHL in Germany and international. Christoph Selig has 13 years of experience in politics, working in the German Bundestag, the Federal Foreign Office, and for more than 8 years he represented Deutsche Post DHL in Berlin as Manager Government Relations and Public Affairs. He completed an MBA Entrepreneurship with a main focus on Social Entrepreneurship and Social Business.