Climate Champions - real people with real passions
20 Sep 2011
A personal blog by Peter Bull, Head of Community Investment
Over the last two weeks I've had the pleasure of twice visiting HSBC's European Climate Centre in Wytham Woods near Oxford. This is one of five centres around the world that HSBC established as part of the HSBC Climate Partnership - one of our global flagship sustainability initiatives.
At these centres, HSBC and Earthwatch, over the course of the partnership, have helped over 2000 of my HSBC colleagues become HSBC Climate Champions. The training includes helping scientists (from Oxford University in the case of the European centre) with important research into the effects of climate change on forests, but also imparts a lot of knowledge on the issues of climate change and helps our colleagues understand how they can personally contribute, in both their personal and professional lives, to the mitigation of its future impact on the world.
My visits to the centre coincide with a learning session when the delegates discuss why HSBC is involved in this work and debates some of the ways that they can personally continue their champion role when they return to their day jobs.
There are two reasons why I love visiting this little corner of Oxfordshire. Firstly, it is really a beautiful and unspoilt piece of English countryside. The woods themselves are very ancient and glorious to experience across the changing seasons. And as I spend most of my working life in a very tall office building in Central London, it is wonderful to escape the city as part of my work.
The second reason is that I really enjoy meeting my colleagues who are engaged in our community work. The Climate Champions are from a particularly diverse background - we host delegates from the UK and across continental Europe as well as from the Middle East, India and Pakistan - and its a wonderful opportunity for me to enjoy the diversity of views and backgrounds which make up HSBC's work-force.
Meeting my colleagues is really important as well in helping to inform me about their views and hearing first hand what they get out of the experience. It is all too easy when wrapped up in the day to day desk work of so many of our jobs to become detached from what is actually happening. A really important part of my day job is recognising, encouraging and facilitating the benefits of getting our people involved in the community. Whilst I know that these benefits are real, it really helps my personal motivation when I witness these benefits first hand and I return to (perhaps slightly less stimulating) parts of my job with increased vigour.
When I took this job I really was mostly externally focussed on how HSBC can help those less fortunate in our society. Whilst this still remains an important driver for me, I am now equally passionate about how by doing this work we can also benefit our own people. Of course it's not always the case, but I have had the great joy of seeing many of our people's eyes opened to facets of their own character which they were not aware of until getting involved in a community project through HSBC.
At times these have been life changing experiences for some people and for an employer to be able to provide these opportunities to its staff is I believe a fantastic thing and a great part of my job.