Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the UK’s largest rental car company, has partnered with social enterprise Arrival Education in the ‘Success for Life programme’ that will offer employees the opportunity to learn through mentoring young students. Donna Miller, European Director of Human Resources at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, discusses what corporate responsibility means at Enterprise and why the company is embarking on this new social enterprise initiative:
“Like a growing number of businesses, we understand that corporate responsibility is far more than just a way to enhance our public profile or ‘tick the box’ for CSR. At Enterprise, corporate responsibility has been fundamental to our business and is part of how we ensure our own growth and ongoing success.
We have always had an interest in programmes that support education as we recruit a large number of graduates every year. We understand that if we want to attract great graduates with the right skills for the workplace we need to be a part of developing that talent.
The question is: how do you take corporate responsibility to a new level to make a real difference to everyone involved?
Our approach is to look at it in terms of how we can leverage the maximum benefits for the people involved, in our organisation as well as in the programme we may be working with.
We’re a national business, but look to provide services through a decentralised structure that sees us operate nine regional businesses, each with its own Managing Director. This approach has seen us grow to over 360 branches, placing us within 10 miles of 91% of the UK population.
So why, with over 3,500 employees, and a successfully growing business, did we decide to partner with Arrival Education?
When we first heard about Arrival Education and the inner city youth change programmes we recognised that this was a project where we could not only bring mutual benefit, but also make a significant difference.
Education focused programmes can often cater to pupils who are already engaged and keen to learn and get ahead. These programmes are really important to companies and the schools they help – but Arrival Education offered something more.
This initiative allows us to focus efforts on providing support and mentoring to the students who typically may not have the opportunity to progress on their own. But it doesn’t mean they lack application or ambition, they simply need support and mentoring to help them make the right choices and stay on track.
We started working with Arrival Education at the end of July on a programme called ‘Success for Life’. This involves six of our employees mentoring a small group of 14-19 year olds who are recruited from challenging communities and backgrounds within London to become “student managers”. A secondary aspect of the programme is the requirement for the students to take what they’re learning and apply it through the development of projects that give back to their local communities. Already, projects have ranged from promoting healthy eating habits, to raising funds for a school in Africa.
The Enterprise managers involved with Arrival Education have self-selected, because we need people willing and able to make the necessary time commitments and remain focused and enthusiastic about the work they are doing. We realised that there is far more benefit in having fewer employees engaged, and making sure they can fully concentrate their time and attention, rather than having more employees on the programme, but for shorter amounts of time and less often. It also ensures consistency for the pupils, allowing longer term and solid relationships based on trust to be developed.
We’ve been amazed at just how smart the pupils are, but you hear their stories and realise all they need is a little support in order to achieve their aims. We cover such things as planning to ensure results, setting high standards and goals, learning to listen and understand, expressing themselves and having integrity, self-awareness and values.
This is a win-win situation in which both students and our employees gain valuable experience in handling different situations and engaging with different types of people with varying abilities. This enables them to identify where their own strengths and weaknesses lie and to establish goals that will help them achieve a well-rounded leadership style.
Many young people do not have the right support to ensure they perform well at school, but it’s not too late for them to develop the real skills needed for life and career success. This programme allows them to make the connection between doing well at school, identifying what they are good at, and striving to learn more as part of achieving some of the things that they want.
Our objective with this programme is to achieve mutual and enduring benefits and we believe that this is one way forward to ensure a strong and capable workforce for tomorrow – an important part of any company’s sustainability efforts. It’s about helping young people to develop the skills and the confidence they need to succeed in the long term and become successful professional adults, as well as developing talent and providing opportunities for growth within our own company.
It’s truly humbling, and a real privilege to be able to work with young people in London who can benefit from our help. It’s exciting to know that this isn’t just another bonus for those who are already well supported, but rather a big boost in the right direction for pupils who don’t necessarily have access to such opportunities.
We believe programmes like this will ensure great outcomes for all involved.”