Making volunteerism an easy choice

In most jobs, arriving late once a week might not be considered commendable. But Definity isn’t your regular workplace. It’s the reason why Laurie from Claims can come in an hour late on Fridays, after serving up nutritious fare for a school breakfast program. Or why the entire Integrated Marketing & Communication team might be offline for a day to sort canned goods at the food bank. Or why Holly in Commercial Insurance can help a rescue organization find stray cats their forever homes. It’s all part of what employee-driven volunteerism looks like around here, and Lauren North, Specialist of Community Investment and Social Impact at Definity, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We’re a multichannel, national insurance provider, but we’re as local as it gets,” she says. “So, we offer each employee two paid volunteer days every year (which can also be taken as half-days) to use how they wish to benefit their community.” Grants to individuals and teams are also provided to enhance those positive outcomes, benefitting an endless variety of causes. “With thousands of employees, you can just imagine the impact all those volunteer hours are having in neighbourhoods across the country,” Lauren says.

Definity supports causes that are important to employees in other ways as well, including matching employees’ charitable contributions up to $500 per year, per individual. “This program triggered over $76,000 in matched donations in 2022,” Lauren enthuses. The same year, as part of our Employee Appreciation Week, Definity "seeded" employees' accounts on our iCare platform with $20 each to give to a charity of their choice. A total of 1,430 employees took advantage of this opportunity, directing funding to 429 causes across Canada.

It’s just the kind of thing that happens when companies let their employees select where their charitable dollars go. “It means a lot to folks to be able to give to causes that mean the most to them and their communities and know that their employer will support them, too,” Lauren notes. Engagement with these programs is strong: Last year, 34% of employees donated to charities through the iCare platform, and Definity saw our highest ever levels of employee time contributed, with more than 2,000 volunteer hours logged.

For Jeannette Cantin, a Senior Content Specialist on the Integrated Marketing and Communication team, the opportunity to make a difference (on company time!) has countless benefits. “This spring, my colleagues and I were able to get out on the Bruce Trail to identify and pull invasive weeds,” she recounts. “Not only were we making a positive impact on one of Canada’s most treasured hiking trails, but we also got to interact with colleagues we might not have otherwise met. It made for a really fun and memorable day.”

By taking advantage of remotely enabled opportunities, employees are able to contribute their time virtually, too, and collaborate with their coworkers across the country. One such initiative, the Missing Maps Program, facilitated by our partner, the Canadian Red Cross, gives first responders in remote areas the information they need to carry out relief efforts when disaster strikes. In 2022, 95 employees mapped 14,780 buildings and features in Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Mauritania, Chad, Madagascar, and South Africa.

“At Definity, our purpose is ‘building a better world by helping our clients and communities adapt and thrive,’” says Lauren. “Whether globally or in our own backyards, that goal is made even more achievable when employees are empowered to contribute in ways that mean the most to them.”

The buzz around Definity is that our co-op students and interns are a great source of ideas. So, when our younger team members share lightbulb moments, we listen. And when an idea perfectly complements our sustainability efforts, we act.