Giving back is key to C&A and our employees, many of whom generously donate to and volunteer in their local communities. We aim to make it easy and rewarding for our colleagues to do so, bringing individual actions together to create an impact that is greater than the sum of its parts. From in-store fundraising to volunteering, we're mobilising thousands of C&A employees around the world to play their own part in tackling societal issues, through programmes run in partnership with C&A Foundation. As always, we allow each region to define how and where they would like to give back to ensure their experience is impactful at a local level.
Helping customers vote to change lives with C&A Foundation
Customers in our European retail countries voted to decide how C&A Foundation should allocate a €300,000 donation between GoodWeave, Remake and Canopy – all working to make fashion a force for good.
Each charity has a different focus:
C&A Together across Europe
Our long-standing community giving programme C&A Together channels C&A Foundation funds into charities nominated by local C&A retail organisations to support the wellbeing of children. It means we can harness our colleagues' knowledge of what their local community needs, boosting the effectiveness of our grants. It also gives employees the opportunity to engage more deeply with their community.
In total, 142 different initiatives in 18 European countries received €2.9 million between March 2017 and February 2018. C&A Foundation funds were distributed in various ways, including:
Creating sustainable livelihoods for immigrants and refugees
In 2017, Instituto C&A’s volunteering programme supported Missão Paz, an NGO partner of the Working Conditions programme. We built on the partnership by engaging 39 head office staff from São Paulo, who volunteered in culinary and employment workshops and film sessions. One of the most popular activities was the CV workshop, where volunteers simulated job interviews and helped immigrants produce CVs adapted to the Brazilian labour market.
“This kind of action makes us feel welcome and helps us find our place in this country," said Jean Lenescarte, a refugee from Haiti who participated in the Culture and Citizenship Fair promoted by the EC Volunteer Program on 16 September 2017.
"We need to learn to welcome others in every way, and this experience has enabled that. Many people have left their countries because of extreme situations and do not know when they will be able to return. Helping them start over is a very rewarding job,” said Paula Gozzi, HR coordinator at C&A.
A fashion team from C&A Brazil also helped a group of female artisans to structure their small business, supporting them from the development of their brand through to the design of their first clothing collection. By sharing their knowledge and skills, C&A employees empowered these women to increase their income and find their place in the fashion industry.
On a practical level, C&A has supported Missão Paz through a donation of 700 chairs, and has created employment opportunities for 12 refugees in a distribution centre. We are planning to offer more places in our stores going forward.
Developing our employee volunteering programme
Instituto C&A has run an employee volunteering programme in partnership with C&A since 1991. In 2017, we focused on developing our head office volunteering programme, which attracted 157 employees – more than double the number in 2016. Volunteers supported five NGOs that help women, immigrants, refugees and fashion entrepreneurs.
We are proud of our volunteering engagement rates: a total of 3,251 employees are registered with Instituto C&A, including around 20% of store employees. We celebrate the achievements of our volunteers through the annual Volunteering Award. In 2017, 249 stores – around 90% – enrolled for the award. C&A Brazil also has a volunteering committee, with representatives from each C&A division.
In 2016, Instituto C&A undertook an in-depth, independent evaluation of the volunteering programme. The findings provided many lessons, which are feeding into a new theory of change and strategy that will be implemented in 2018.
Malha and the Management Institute for Civil Society Organisations (IGESC).
The São Paulo head office has been innovating its volunteering programme to provide online and in-person mentoring with Instituto C&A. We worked in partnership with Malha, a movement that focuses on more sustainable, collaborative, local and independent production, and the Management Institute for Civil Society Organisations. 26 employee volunteers shared skills and knowledge with sewing shops and helped small fashion entrepreneurs to train and improve their business management in 2017.
"I learned from the volunteers how it is possible to manage business in a different way, using strategy and planning to anticipate situations that can impact us and optimise financial management to see what we need to do three months from now. Knowing how to handle challenges better is vital to avoid the repercussions of market ups and downs," said Sivonaldo Florêncio dos Santos, owner of Ferlu Costuras.
Separately, C&A Brazil supported Malha to incubate new brands, helping them select 10 brands to be part of their network, and then participating in mentorship programmes to improve their business cases.
A stitch in time
For the past 10 years, C&A Mexico has sponsored a volunteering day for its employees at headquarters. Each year, around 70 employees spend eight hours in a local NGO, helping with construction, painting, gardening and playing with children. In 2017, a group of 40 volunteers reunited for one day in a children's shelter to improve the facilities where 80 children live.
Giving back in kind
As part of C&A’s commitment to supporting communities, in 2017 C&A Mexico donated more than 52,000 garments through its Foundation. This donation supported 19,736 people across Mexico.
The 11 partner organisations provided these garments in different ways: delivering them directly to beneficiaries or selling them to fund programmes in child protection, education and health.
Balancing global and local approaches
Our communications approach is localised to ensure we engage and enable our customers to act on issues they care most about. Customers have told us that our charity work in their local communities could be more focused. It can be difficult to get the right balance between supporting local and global causes and charities, but we believe both approaches are necessary to balance local interest and capitalise on our scale and reach.
Global approach: Inspiring World
Our Inspiring Women campaign has been the most successful global engagement campaign in C&A’s history. In 2018, we will build on its success with Inspiring World, which will seek to build employees’ capacity to support our 2020 sustainability goals.