We know the responsible companies of 2015: Pontis Foundation handed out the Via Bona Slovakia awards
The Pontis Foundation handed out the 16th annual awards for companies doing business with a higher interest than that of earning a profit.
The 2015 winners of Via Bona Slovakia help their surrounding and employees. They respect the environment, they fight against corruption, and they deal with socially important topics, all willingly and beyond what is required by legislation.
“Our goal is to show all entrepreneurs in Slovakia that honesty and business go hand-in-hand, and that doing business can have a visible contribution to the society and the country,” said Lenka Surotchak, the Pontis Foundation’s director. This year eighteen companies from different regions of Slovakia were in the running, which was the highest number of small and middle companies engaged in the awards so far. “Our country will flourish when everyone will look after it. We are very glad that many companies acknowledge this and that they are contributing to society with their corporate social responsibility. Also, through the Via Bona Slovakia awards, we want to show that there are many people in business who take care of their employees and who support activities in their local communities,” Surotchak added.
Heineken and Taylor Wessing become the most inspiring companies
Heineken Slovakia received the Responsible Large Company of the Year award. The goal of this beer producer from Hurbanovo is to become the greenest brewery in Slovakia by 2020: that is why it is focusing on protecting water sources, decreasing carbon dioxide emissions, using local foodstuffs from sustainable sources, supporting responsible beer drinking, protecting employees’ health and safety, and, last but not least, developing the communities in which the company operates. Heineken is aware of the fact that the alcohol contained in beer can cause health, social and economic problems if drunk irresponsibly. This is why Heineken is trying to spread information about reasonable consumption. Besides running public awareness campaigns, they refrain from placing their advertisements near schools, kindergartens or health care institutions, and in their advertisements they only employ actors who appear older than 25 years of age.
The Responsible Medium Company of the Year award was scooped up by the Taylor Wessing law firm, which tries to enforce a clear and transparent business environment and good law enforcement. They provide counselling for non-governmental organizations and media, and they participate in pro-bono projects whose aim is to improve the legal environment in Slovakia. They are also responsible when it comes to choosing their co-workers. “Our company does not use the mandatory five-year practice of trainee lawyers to secure cheap labour. We consider people as the most important asset in our firm, and every partner invests a big part of his time in training and cooperation with younger colleagues,” said Radovan Palla, one of the law firm’s partners.
The Pontis Foundation awarded the Dobre&Dobré company with an honorary certificate in the category of Responsible Small/Medium Company for bringing homeless people back into society. In addition to the honorary certificate, the Dobre&Dobré café also received the public award for setting the best example in responsible business as voted by the readers of the Sme daily newspaper. The café was created on the initiative of the Vagus association, and it employs homeless people who can thus get a feeling of self-respect, fulfilment and the urge to launch into everyday life.
GreenCoop and JRK Waste Management have become green companies
The jury decided to give two awards in the Green Company category: one for a large company and one for a small company. GreenCoop from Zlatná na Ostrove, a cooperative that supplies to the market more than 10 million kilograms of local tomatoes a year, won the large green company award. Not only do they try to produce healthy crops, they also try to grow them in an eco-friendly fashion. They have been building greenhouses equipped with the most modern affordable technology for ten years. They are also trying to restore old greenhouses and make abandoned geothermal drill rigs, out of which hot water often flows uncontrollably into the ecosystem, operational once more.
The other green company to receive an award was JRK Waste Management, whose aim is to reduce the amount of mixed municipal waste by increasing its separation. Since 2010 the company has been working with municipalities and individuals to encourage home composting. In 2015 it reduced the amount of greenhouse gases by more than 4000 tons and prevented the landfilling of almost 650 thousand hectolitres of biodegradable waste.
An abattoir is building flats for its employees
The HSH abattoir in Veľké Zálužie received the Great Employer award. It builds flats and houses for its employees. The relationship between employer and employee is very important for society, and this is why they offer their employees various benefits, including free breakfasts and the possibility of accommodation in terraced houses near their place of work. HSH also tries to help its employees by means of interest-free loans.
Companies from Banská Bystrica, Banská Štiavnica and Košice were also awarded
PayLess Consulting from Banská Bystrica received the Fair Market Player award. Their aim is not to create barriers between operators and clients, but rather to help clients reduce the costs of telecommunication services in an efficient way. Their efficiency and fair approach is also reflected in their free provision of these services to civic associations. Another interesting fact is that while 50% of a client’s saved costs are used as remuneration for PayLess, if the client does not save anything, PayLess does not claim any remuneration at all.
In this category, the Pontis Foundation recognized ARES lifts and platforms from Bratislava with an honorary certificate for their exceptional and fair approach to business, their employees, and the community of disabled people.
In the Good Partner of the Community category, the jury also decided to hand out two awards, one for a large company and one for a small company. The first awarded company was a small construction company called Obnova (meaning “Renovation”) from Banská Štiavnica, which specializes in the renovation and revitalization of historical buildings. For example, they carried out works on Orava Castle and on the ruins of Likava Castle. With their motto “We remember historic sites,” Obnova tries to point out the fine line between what constitutes destroying the essence of an historic site and having a well preserved site.
Východoslovenská energetika Holding from Košice was the large company to be recognized as a Good Partner of the Community. Its employees help female clients from crisis centres return to normal life by mentoring them and being in regular contact with them. At the same time, they actively take part in the renovation and cleaning of particular centres. The company’s employees also organized fund-raising campaigns and joint activities like the baking and selling of Christmas gingerbread.
With its Elderly project, Hewlett-Packard Slovakia won the Supporter of Volunteering category. The company’s employees work with a community of elderly people on a long-term basis. Their aim is to make the lives of the lonely clients of a social care home more pleasant, engage them in different activities and socialize them. Both parties benefit from this – the senior citizens look forward to the particular activities with the volunteers, and the volunteers acquire new skilled practice, experiences and feelings.
75 nominations were in the running for the Via Bona Slovakia award for 2015. The most inspiring examples of responsible business were chosen by an independent jury composed of representatives of the business community, state administration, the NGO sector and educational institutions on the basis of company nominations and personal presentations in two rounds. There were awards in seven categories: Responsible Large Company, Responsible Small/Medium Company, Green Company, Great Employer, Fair Market Player, Supporter of Volunteering, and Good Partner of the Community. The eighth awarded company was chosen by the public, who voted on the webpage www.sme.sk. The Pontis Foundation announced the results at a ceremonial gala evening in Bratislava’s Refinery Gallery which was attended by the Slovak president Andrej Kiska. The atmosphere of the gala evening was marked by connecting with each other and cooperation.