EPP (JSE: EPP), Poland’s biggest retail landlord, celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2021. The company marked this proud milestone by highlighting its commitment to ESG and, specifically, its social responsibility component. It set out to do 120 initiatives for the benefit of local communities by the end of last year, delivered jointly by 24 teams representing its assets. Every group aimed to perform five good deeds, one for every year of EPP’s operation. The teams achieved their goals with positive impacts of 120 life-changing community actions during the year.
The initiative, called “5 good deeds for the 5th anniversary of EPP”, aligned with EPP’s four community engagement strategic pillars: education, ecology, health and issues relevant for local communities and their members. The actions also responded to challenges faced by the world today, such as the need to improve air quality, increase biodiversity and make cities greener, or prevent food waste and reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills by popularising the circular economy.
“Our teams impressed us with their commitment, creative ideas and the genuine understanding they have of their communities. Listening to social needs and keeping close to the realities in our operating environments is the future of retail’s responsible approach to sustainable development,” said Tomasz Trzósło, CEO of EPP.
The social responsibility impacts were wide and diverse, as initiatives covered different areas. Ultimately, 48% of activities were aimed at meeting the specific needs of local communities. These included donating food and goods to people in need and supporting animal shelters, orphanages, hospitals and other institutions focused on helping others. 24% of actions, such as planting trees, establishing flower meadows and cleaning neighbourhoods, demonstrated EPP’s deep concern for nature and the future of our planet. 15% of actions focused on encouraging preventative health care and improving physical condition through sport. Among these were activities like charity runs, promoting blood and bone marrow donations, fundraisers for children with illnesses, and cancer awareness campaigns. And education, encouraging reading, sharing knowledge and raising awareness came next, with 12% of actions performed. This included bookcrossing (creating spots in public places like malls and parks, where people can deposit the books they have read, so that others can collect and enjoy it for free), exhibitions, workshops and contests.
All groups carried out beneficial activities with remarkable determination. And it was a highly inspiring task for them. While several teams performed similar initiatives, the project also delivered fine examples of creative ideas that were either unique or inspired others to follow. Perfect illustrations of both include Galeria Solna shopping centre launching a “Pink Box” – a case where women can find sanitary products free of charge – to help to reduce period poverty, and planting flower meadows, as Galeria Olimpia in Bełchatów and King Cross Marcelin did, which introduced a solution that helps produce oxygen, reduce smog and creates a more biodiversity-friendly environment.
Across the vast scope of activities, what stood out the most was the tremendous commitment of EPP’s people, who invested their time, resources and personal efforts in the programme to do good.
These actions were very often characterised by incredible creativity, especially in the area driven by zero-waste philosophy. With their unconventional approach, EPP’s teams gave a second life to many redundant and unused items. They launched a plant-adoption point, a furniture recycling initiative, a programme of donating renovated bikes to those in need, and even found a way to reuse old crayons. EPP’s teams also participated in collecting goods and raising funds for the elderly, children, families in need and animal shelters. They participated actively in these projects by delivering gifts personally. A joint effort by the teams from Galeria Młociny shopping centre and EPP’s headquarters in Warsaw to renovate a home for people with disabilities is only one example of staff’s personal engagement. As a part of the anniversary initiative, EPP supported 32 nursing homes and orphanages and 16 animal shelters, with donations of gifts, funds, or volunteerism. It also built two feeders for wild animals and constructed insect houses and bird nesting boxes in the flower meadows it created. To better understand why EPP’s employees were so motivated by its fifth-anniversary initiative, interviews with team leaders revealed one resounding answer – “to see others smile”. Ultimately, the popularity of these initiatives encouraged EPP to growth its social responsibility impacts in 2022 and launch its staff volunteering programme.
“As a human-oriented business, sensitive to people’s needs, we try to listen and understand issues relevant for them. And, as a part of the environment that we operate in, we want to participate in its life actively. That is what truly made us launch the ‘5 good deeds for the 5th anniversary of EPP’ initiative, which is the company’s most complex and far-reaching social responsibility campaign to date. It has become the benchmark for such activities in future,” says Tomasz Trzósło. “Our enhanced focus on local communities during 2021 brought us closer to our neighbours and their needs and taught us how we can play a positive role in building stronger communities and prosperous places. Social responsibility is now a pillar of our sustainable operation and development, with strategic goals and business roles. Leveraging the foundation of all that we have learned and the relationships we have built, EPP has set the ambitious target of enhancing our positive social impacts in line with our ESG strategy, which we will publish together with our first ESG report this spring”.