Building bikes for disadvantaged children
In November, our Group Ethics and Compliance team volunteered time to build bikes to donate to Children Heard and Seen—a charity that supports young people whose parents are in prison. The finished bikes were donated along with helmets and copies of the Oxford Junior Thesaurus and the Oxford Junior Dictionary.
‘Children with a parent in prison are an invisible but very vulnerable group. We are so appreciative to OUP for recognizing this, and for being so supportive in providing something wonderful for the children that will support them and help them to feel valued. Thank you so much.’
The team was supported by James Watkins from Oxford cycle repair company Cycle Support Ltd, who made sure the bikes were built correctly. Local retailer Cycle King also contributed to the cause by providing the helmets.
OUP Group Ethics and Compliance Officer Susan Armour, helped to arrange the volunteering activity and reported ‘We wanted to do something practical that would also have a positive impact on those in need in our community. Children Heard and Seen is a wonderful organization that provides important support to children and aligns with our charitable giving and employee volunteering programmes. We hope that the resources we have donated will make a small but valuable difference in the lives of these children.’
Assisting teachers in rural China
Last year, we announced a partnership with edtech company Liulishuo in China, to jointly launch online English learning courses as part of its social responsibility programme. This year, we extended our support to Liulishuo’s Rural Teachers Support Plan—an initiative which aims to provide teachers across rural China with access to free online courses to improve their English language proficiency and teaching. The plan has helped 2,000 rural teachers since its inception in 2017.
As part of our contribution, we ran a programme of interactive sessions on English speaking, reading, and vocabulary. In total, we delivered five days of workshops—two in Cangyuan in July, covering approximately 70 per cent of English teachers in the county, and three in Shanghai in December. We also provided 200 free codes to students so they could access the Big Reading Club Online app.
‘I have learned a lot! There are so many things that we have never experienced before. We have taught English for so many years, yet all we have been using are traditional teaching methods. What the trainers brought us refreshes our thinking towards English teaching.’
Celebrating International Women’s Day
In March 2020, colleagues came together to celebrate International Women’s Day, with activities taking place across our offices around the world.
The OUP India Week of Women celebrated the contribution of women to our organization with activities including the launch of the OUP India Women’s Network, and a session discussing the experiences of women in leadership. In addition, the Canadian branch of our Women’s Network ran a global panel discussion with female leaders in various roles, focussing on their experiences and the importance of professional development and support from colleagues; while our Women’s Network in Oxford ran an author talk with Lennie Goodings, author of A Bite of the Apple—a book which casts a light on Virago and the feminist movement—in conversation with her editor, Jacqueline Norton.
Many of the activities were recorded or live-streamed, so that everyone had the opportunity to take part and be inspired. We also created a video showcasing how our female employees are championing equality, and ran a series of career profile pieces on our website, to help celebrate some of the brilliant women working at OUP.
Developing female leaders
For the past three years, OUP has taken part in the 30% Club Cross Company Mentoring Scheme—a global programme which brings together organizations and leaders to develop the pipeline of female talent by matching female mentees with senior mentors (of all genders) across a range of industries. The scheme was founded in the UK, but this year we also contributed to its new virtual strand which enabled mentoring to take place on a global scale. Each year, we put forward 20 mentees and 20 mentors.
OUP employee Lucy Huggett began her mentoring as a Digital Marketing Manager, but she was unsure of what her next career step would be: ‘I had been a bit passive. I hadn’t thought about what my next steps were and what I needed to do to achieve them. I possibly also had lower confidence levels as a result.’
Her mentor encouraged her to think carefully about her core values; how she projected herself to the public; and how she promoted herself. The confidence that Lucy gained through the scheme helped her to secure a promotion within OUP, taking on the role of Senior Customer Experience Manager.
‘It took a while, but actually that was one of the most valuable things that I did. It became a framework from which I could assess my career and decide where I wanted my focus to be. There was definitely a pretty direct correlation between my participation in the programme and my promotion—through the confidence and space it gave me to think about me.’