Virtual reality therapy and help for victims of domestic violence. We present the finalists of the Via Bona Slovakia 2021 award
In the first round of evaluation, independent committees decided on the final projects in the finals.
This year, 38 small, medium, and large companies applied for the award for responsible entrepreneurship and corporate philanthropy with 46 nominations. We received the most applications in the Good Community Partner (15) and Green Company (7) categories. The independent committee decided that 19 of them advanced to the finals.
In the 22nd year, we will award Via Bona Slovakia in seven categories. The announcement of the winners will take place on June 29, 2022 in Bratislava.
Responsible Large Company
As part of its CSR strategy in Slovakia, Swiss Re has defined three main focus areas that it has been working on for a long time. They are the following: the impact of climate change on the town, strengthening personal and social resilience, and regional social innovations. The company aims to become carbon-free by 2030 and motivates its employees in this as well. Through an application, each of them can calculate their annual carbon footprint, which will become a starting point for reducing it by participating in practical challenges and competitions. Swiss Re also pays attention to the selection of suppliers, which is preceded by their systematic multi-level assessment in the field of sustainability.
The company has a sophisticated employee programme with above-standard social benefits and innovative elements supporting diversity and inclusion, such as mutual mentoring of women or reverse mentoring, in which younger colleagues mentor older ones. Every year, it carries out surveys by which it monitors the so-called well-being index but also the resilience and workload of employees. Last year, the company, in cooperation with the Swiss Re Foundation, brought the SHINE programme to Slovakia. The programme focuses on the development of social innovations and entrepreneurship and continued cooperation with the City of Bratislava on the issue of mitigating the effects of climate change.
IBM’s goal is to adhere to the highest standards of responsible entrepreneurship in everything they do: supporting and empowering employees, working with clients and suppliers, and managing the company. The company uses technologies such as the cloud, artificial intelligence and blockchain to design innovative solutions in the fields of healthcare, education and agriculture. It is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. At the local level, environmental goals are reflected in the corporate initiative entitled lesswaste@IBM.
Every year, the company conducts a survey among its employees to monitor how it is doing in the areas of development, inclusion, innovation and well-being. Through the Aspiring Leaders programme, it creates suitable conditions for the growth and development of its future leaders. In the field of I&D, IBM focuses on gender equality, work-life balance, cultural intelligence, LGBT+, support of people with special needs, and also breaking down prejudices. IBM has a long-standing tradition of volunteering and community support – the company places great emphasis on expert volunteering, which enables employees to award grants to non-profit organisations based on their volunteer hours.
One of IKEA’s core values is not to contribute to waste creation, so it always tries to maximise the use of resources. As part of a long-term vision called Good for People and the Planet, the company also launched new services in Bratislava last year with an emphasis on sustainability. One of them is the Circular Hub department, which gives a second chance to older pieces of furniture and sells them at a lower price.
The company has also been drawing attention to the topic of domestic violence for a long time now. It advocates for the adoption of solutions and measures that ensure access to adequate help, support and protection for women experiencing violence. The company also focuses on supporting female employees who have encountered domestic violence and provides them with various types of assistance (psychological, legal, and financial).
Until 2030, IKEA has set ambitious commitments to combat climate change, unsustainable consumption and inequality. As part of its activities, it wants to switch to a circular economy model, obtain energy exclusively from renewable sources, contribute to the inclusion of disadvantaged people in society, and support gender equality and equal opportunities.
Responsible Small/Medium-Sized Company
The social enterprise AfB deals with the renovation of discarded hardware from Slovak companies (laptops, computers, tablets), thereby extending its life and thus contributing to the protection of the environment. The company mainly employs people with disabilities and promotes an individual approach – they fully adapt the working environment and the specific job position to the needs of the employee. They provide a chance for long-term employment and adequate remuneration, especially to people with a medical disability who were previously unemployed or did unskilled work. Even when choosing suppliers, the company focuses on people with disabilities. In its activities, it places great emphasis on environmental friendliness. Almost no waste is generated during renovation. The company works to use all parts and return them to the cycle again, thereby minimising the generation of waste. Every year, AfB also helps non-profit organisations and schools by lending/donating laptops and tablets or providing different services.
Even in the past year, when the pandemic significantly affected the tourism industry, it was a priority for the Zľavomat website to continue responding flexibly to the needs of its partners, employees and clients. They guaranteed their customers the purchased experiences and stays even if the company were to go bankrupt, extended the validity of already purchased vouchers, allowed extra guarantees in the form of cancellation two days before checking-in, transparently communicated anti-pandemic measures on their website, and supported vaccination with their campaign (credit reward for proving proof of vaccination).
At the same time, the company responded promptly to the difficult business conditions and tried to help the tourism industry. It set up an effective model to help hoteliers ensure cash-flow even in the difficult time, supported the sale of products from local producers and launched campaigns to support business sectors threatened by the pandemic. Besides the activities to support tourism, Zľavomat has been supporting communities too. During the year, it implemented several philanthropic activities, such as various collections for non-profit organisations or a campaign to help people affected by the pandemic. In a special section focused on CSR activities, it offers space for individuals and non-profits that customers can support by purchasing a voucher. In 2021, the company collected more than 37,000 EUR for seven civic associations in this way.
Turnkey app development digital studio GoodRequest sees responsible entrepreneurship as part of its DNA. The company considers education and gender equality to be its priority. At GoodRequest, they realise that the IT environment is often naturally discriminatory, so they work to provide equal opportunities for both women and men. They want to motivate more women and girls to study computer science and then work in this industry by sharing the success stories of women in this sector.
The company organises the GoodRequest Academy. It is a platform for university students that offers them the opportunity to work on a project and in a company. The academy has four levels: an 8-week-long internship, during which students get to know the company’s processes and improve their programming level, a competitive assignment where they can test their experience in practice and receive a financial or material reward, an intensive paid course for people with experience in the field and support of school organisations. As part of its philanthropic activities, the company also supports several non-profit organisations, most often in the form of pro bono cooperation.
CORPLEX with the project entitled Circular Plastic Solutions
CORPLEX focuses on the design, production and supply of returnable packaging equipment for the industry at its plant in Hurbanov. By extruding plastic polypropylene sheets (cardboard plastic), it produces packaging solutions tailored to the customer. The plant produces almost 6,000 tons of plastic packaging solutions annually, 50% of which are made from recycled materials. The company has its own recycling line. It processes waste from its production, recycled plastic granules from other processors, but also external waste from plastic packaging, which CORPLEX buys back from its customers at the end of its life cycle. Across its European plants, it provides customers with plastic containers for the gradual collection and subsequent transportation of packaging waste.
Mobilonline with the project entitled Mobilonline
The family company Mobilonline focuses on solving the important problem of electronic waste when, besides selling mobile phones and accessories, it buys and then refurbishes thousands of mobile phones, tablets, smartwatches and laptops every year. Each of the stores is also a collection point for small electrical waste and plastic covers. The company uses used packaging materials and reusable eco-boxes for shipments to stores, thus saving the purchase of thousands of new cardboard packaging and boxes. Last year, it opened the first store in Slovakia, which is 80% made of recycled and natural materials and glass, designed to reduce the amount of water, electricity and other resources used. The company has also created a concept in which part of the non-functioning phones goes to the Telephone Museum, where they will serve as an example of history for younger generations, and some are used to create art paintings and sculptures from the waste.
WAKIVAKY with the project entitled SELITEX (Second Life for Textiles)
The WAKIVAKY company was originally created as a school project. It creatively processes textile waste and produces practical, original products from it. In production, it uses textile waste from the automotive and furniture industries of local companies, as these constitute the largest volume of textile waste. The goal of the SELITEX project is to process 10 times more textile waste than before, by developing the HACHAI product – a seat bag that is sewn and filled with waste textile material. It mainly comes from the automotive industry and is used, for example, in the upholstery of car interiors. Besides its quality as a durable material, it can be recycled again at the end of its life cycle. In addition to the positive ecological impact, the company also has an ethical dimension. It employs disadvantaged groups, such as seniors and single mothers.
Accenture with the project entitled Content at Home, Content at Work
Accenture is aware that their employees experienced effects of extreme demands and stress due to the pandemic over the past two years not only in the work environment but also at home. Following their activities of the long-standing Parents’ Council, as well as a comprehensive programme to support mental health, in 2021, they launched a project to support employees in their personal lives. The goal of the project is to help them overcome the challenges associated not only with the pandemic and to increase their mental well-being at home, which also reflects at work. Employees were offered psychological lectures and workshops aimed at developing partnership and parenting skills and created a meaningful programme for their children (e.g. coding workshops). The project also includes flexibility and the possibility of 100% work from home, ergonomic equipment of the home workplace, above-standard health care and other benefits.
IKEA Bratislava with the project entitled For a Safe Home
In Slovakia, almost every second woman (47%) has experienced psychological and every fifth (23%) physical or sexual violence in an intimate relationship. That is why IKEA, in cooperation with the Fenestra organisation, decided to initiate a dialogue to support a safe home. They implemented two awareness campaigns on the topic for the general public, but they also set measures inside the company. In the case of domestic violence, in addition to psychological and financial support, female employees have up to 10 days of vacation available, and the company will apply measures to increase safety in the workplace, such as changing working hours, place of work or job duties. Furthermore, the company will allow up to three days of vacation per year for employees to provide support to female employees who are victims of domestic violence.
PASELL Slovakia with the project entitled Social Inclusion of Roma in the Poprad Region and Its Vicinity
This manufacturer and seller of concrete and plastic components for household appliances gives the opportunity to work also to people who have difficulties in the labour market. Employees from marginalised Roma communities acquire skills and improve, for instance, their financial literacy, which then affects their entire families. The company appeals to parents to have their children attend pre-school and school facilities. Other production companies operating in the Poprad region were also inspired by the good practice regarding the Roma integration.
Good Partner of the Community
Kaufland with the project entitled Fresh Heads
With the project, the food chain responds to the alarming situation regarding the unhealthy eating habits of children. According to surveys, only a fifth of children between the ages of six and nine consume vegetables daily. Thanks to the project, primary schools in Slovakia can get a supply of high-quality and fresh fruits and vegetables for the whole school year. An accompanying activity is an educational campaign that motivates schoolchildren to eat fruits and vegetables regularly and happily. The campaign also affects parents, teachers and the general public. Kaufland also focuses on the systematic solution to this societal problem. It participates in the creation of educational and informational materials for children and teachers and, in cooperation with the civic association Healthy School, the company organised webinars for schools focused on various topics related to food.
Slovenské elektrárne with the project entitled EcoVillage
The EcoVillage grant programme was established ten years ago. Its goal is to support ecological projects in villages and towns in the vicinity of power plants. Last year, the programme focused on developing ecological transport, building cycle paths, setting up bicycle racks and supporting shared economy projects. Slovenské elektrárne actively involved the mayors of towns and villages from the surrounding areas, as well as their employees and experts of regional cyclist initiatives. Thanks to the programme and active cooperation with municipalities and cycle coordinators, 12 towns and municipalities will have better cycle transport. A new regional cycle route, service and charging stations for electric bicycles and a free bicycle rental for those who cannot afford them have been added. In order to contribute to the safety of cyclists on the roads, the power plant also initiated the construction of a bicycle route connecting the village and the Jaslovské Bohunice power plant.
Slovak Telekom with the project entitled ENTER
Slovak Telekom has focused on the support for quality education and teacher development for a long time. In 2020, the company launched the ENTER programme. Its goal is to increase the digital skills of children and students and, at the same time, to increase their interest in solving problems in their communities through digital technologies. Besides the awareness-raising campaign, which increases children’s interest in technology, its use and application in the future, the operator also focuses on the digital education of teachers and students in secondary and elementary schools. At the same time, it also helps schools with hardware equipment, such as microbits, which enable children and young people to create various codable solutions. The programme works not only with teaching informatics classes, but also with the expansion of interdisciplinary education. The project that children code with the microbits can be used in other classes as well.
Socially Innovative Company
Deutsche Telekom IT Solutions Slovakia with the project entitled Cognity Care
Through its project, the company brings a unique innovation in the field of mental health treatment, which the company perceives as very neglected. Psychiatric treatment is often taboo in society. Patients undergo invasive forms of treatment, after the end of hospitalisation they have problems with returning to their life, self-realisation or motivation. Therefore, the company has developed a new non-invasive interactive-exposure therapy in virtual reality, which is unique in Slovakia and the world. It is a virtual reality application where the patient exercises his or her cognitive functions without realising it. The application was tested on more than 50 patients. The first study shows that patients who underwent this therapy showed better executive functions than patients who did not go to therapy. The company plans to distribute the solution to other psychiatric departments in Slovakia and to extend the new version of the application to other users, such as children and seniors.
HighBrows with the project entitled Brainery
The company has developed a unique educational programme entitled Brainery, which develops the skills for the future and thus responds to current challenges and trends in education in the field of soft interpersonal skills. The aim of the programme is to prepare people for the career and co-create a healthy, wise and inclusive society. The programme uses the latest knowledge from behavioural and social sciences and neurobiology. It applies the most effective forms of learning, engages all the senses, is interactive, uses virtual reality and game-based learning. The company provides its clients with multidisciplinary knowledge applicable in practice, which results in greater understanding and acceptance of oneself and others, reduced stress, greater resilience, positive changes in life and improvement in future skills. HighBrows offers the programme as an accredited subject at the University of Economics in Bratislava, actively works with the community of students and teachers through non-profit organisations or specialised programmes, organises evening school for the public and cooperates with companies.
Fair Market Player
O2 with the project entitled Share with Reason
The company is aware that technology can be a good servant but a bad master. Therefore, it has been focusing, both long-term and strategically, on the development of critical thinking and media literacy in its activities, projects of the Fair Foundation, and through partnerships with non-governmental organisations and educational institutions. In 2021, O2 launched the Share Wisely campaign, which started by a deepfake video with Zlatica Puškárová. It also included a campaign website, which offered a media literacy quiz and advice and guidelines on how not to believe false information. The campaign involved influencers, psychologists and former authentic conspirators who changed their opinion based on the facts. Through its Fair Foundation, the operator supported 12 projects aimed at cultivating the information space, refuting hoaxes and addressing hate speech with a total of 60,000 euros.
The Ďurkos’ Farm with the project entitled Quality Speaks for Us
Since its inception, the family farm has emphasised honest entrepreneurship, a responsible approach and local production. The products it offers to its customers come from local suppliers, are produced honestly and maintain their quality for a long time. In 2021, it launched its craft beers. The farm also offers its visitors the possibility of contact with farm animals. The entire animal care and feeding is provided by the farm staff. The family farm project has found a stable place in the region due to the quality of its work. Together with other similarly value-oriented partners, they created the concept of a regional network of stores that offers its customers honest local food products.