GT in the Community initiative unites Grant Thornton member firms in 130 countries worldwide on a single day, making a difference in the communities
The majority of Grant Thornton KZN’s staff took time out of their normal working week to bring some joy and to give back to the greater Durban community as part of the Grant Thornton “Growing Together (GT) in the Community” initiative.
All ten Grant Thornton offices throughout South Africa, like their counterparts worldwide in 130 countries around the globe, participated in the global audit, tax and advisory firm’s first-ever Grant Thornton International community day which was held last week on 17 September 2015.
Each regional member firm in South Africa identified a variety of projects for the GT in the Community day, ranging from maintaining educational facilities, mentoring students and organisations, to hunger alleviation initiatives including packaging meals, collecting food and planting food gardens.
Employees from Grant Thornton Durban could choose to support a community activity that best aligned with their own personal community passion from four carefully approved activities for the day. These were:
• To deliver donations of toys and educational items and equipment to Gugu’s crèche in Inanda, provide party goods for the +- 25 children and play with them;
• To host a pizza party and to play games with the 48 children from St Thomas’ Children’s Home in Sydenham;
• To visit and take gift packs and delicious cakes for tea to the Mothwa Haven Old Aged Home in Glenwood; or
• To collect food, clothes and toiletries for the homeless and then to assist in helping to serve mid-morning meals to the homeless in the kitchen at the Denis Hurley Centre in the heart of the Durban city centre.
“We have a long tradition of supporting our local communities,” says Deepak Nagar, national chairman of Grant Thornton SA and managing partner of Grant Thornton Durban. “We’re always looking at ways to make contributions too, using our time, skills or expertise to make a difference to a variety of charitable and community organisations.”
He added that physically bringing their employees into needy communities would certainly raise awareness amongst staff of the poor and those in need.
A statement heard countless times from Durban staff throughout the GT in the Community Day was: “The reception received by all of the adults and children we visited in the KZN region for the day was truly overwhelming. Smiles of appreciation, gratitude, joy from the children when we played with them, comfort from the elderly when we listened to their stories brought warmth to our souls – what a wonderful, heart-warming experience we had at our Community Day!”
Nagar said that the St Thomas Children’s Home was a long-standing community support project for the Durban member firm, for several years already.
“The other three projects were decided on after discussions with our staff and our KZN regional Crisis Centre,” he added. “Our thinking was that we would give staff a variety of options to choose from for the first year of this CSR initiative, and that this will then further direct our choices for future years.”
In September 2014 Grant Thornton International held a three-day online summit for employees worldwide which was known as the "Global Jam". The webinar ‘en masse’ provided a platform for all staff to openly discuss issues of international cooperation, development of the network’s business, personnel management, improvement of client services. More than 14,000 people took part in the forum including managing partners and invited experts.
“We are one of the first and only professional services firms to develop our global strategy in this collaborative way,” says Ed Nusbaum, global CEO and Chairman of Grant Thornton International: “In fact, the idea of a global CSR day was developed and conceived at the Global Jam, and now - 12 months later -it has become a reality.”
Grant Thornton International’s global CSR ambition is to have 10,000 ambassadors across the global network. The aim of the first ‘GT in the Community’ day is to launch this ambition and for everyone to act, commit and share. The hashtag #GTintheCommunity has been created for member firms to share their stories on all social media platforms.
“We’re delighted that the global network is united on the same day for a common cause, to make a real difference by unlocking the potential within the communities in which we live, work and play,” Nagar concludes.
Additional quotations from staff who participated in the “GT in the Community Day” in KZN:
Michelle Uren (Personal Assistant) Grant Thornton KZN on visiting the Denis Hurley Centre in the Durban City centre:
“The event was an amazing bonding experience for us and we were all truly humbled by our visit to the Denis Hurley Centre. Our team from Grant Thornton Durban were so enthusiastic and we all climbed in to handle even the most menial of tasks. Thank you to Grant Thornton International for the inspiring idea of the CSR day. ”
Jessica Pearse (Managing Company Secretarial Consultant - Durban), Grant Thornton KZN on visiting the Mthwa Haven Old Aged Home in Glenwood: “The Matron at Mothwa Haven was enormously grateful for our donations and time spent with the elderly today. The staff could not thank us enough because every little bit helps so much. It made us feel wonderful that we were able to spend some quality time with the residents.”
Darren Gray (Bookkeeper, Client Accounting), Grant Thornton KZN on visiting Gugu’s crèche in Inanda:
“The entire day was enormously moving for all of us. When the children started singing the National Anthem and our Grant Thornton team joined in, we could feel the joy and gratitude at the crèche. It was a great experience to be out in the community spending time with those in need. Gugu was so appreciative of the items we had donated because those were exactly the items and things that the crèche was needing.”
Mbali Mbhele (SAIPA Trainee Accountant), Grant Thornton KZN on visiting St Thomas Children’s Home in Sydenham:
“The 48 children were very excited to be having pizza and cool drinks for lunch. Their faces beamed even more when we spent precious time playing with them outside. Our team worked together to make the afternoon really special for the kids and I think the hardest part was saying our farewells, but I’m certain it won’t be the last time we see those kids.”