Charity begins at home. For a company, this refers to the responsibility towards an organisation’s own staff, whether in-office or remotely, as well as providing support to the communities that company operates in. For Hero Gaming, this refers to its own ‘heroes’, as the company playfully calls its staff, and the Maltese and Swedish communities where its offices are located.
iGamingCapital.mt recently sat down with Hero Gaming’s Head of Talent and Organisational Development, Andrea Saliba, who shed light on the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, organised through the Hero Gaming Foundation, as well as its inward-looking initiatives and practices.
While the Foundation serves to make the company more socially accountable, through support-projects focused on three pillars – environment, animals and people – he also shares insights about the Hero Gaming Chest Fund, set up to assist staff members, or close friends and family, in times of need and worldwide crisis situations.
In life, one must expect the unexpected, and, for many professionals – inclusive of those in the iGaming industry, fears about work accommodating certain needs such as a personal incident, can be debilitating. Understanding this, the Chest Fund was set up, funded via the Foundation, which can serve, for example, to fund the cost of travel, leave or accommodation for emergency health treatment of a staff member or a dependent of a staff member, and such similar situations.
Thankfully, Hero Gaming has yet to be in a position where one of its employees required using the Chest Fund. However, awarding the company’s heroes peace of mind, can go a long way.
Andrea highlights that Hero Gaming puts CSR at the heart of its strategy which ensures proactivity with several initiatives. However, having some of the funds that are not earmarked for specific initiatives, allows the company to also be reactive when unexpected events occur.
Take the pandemic or the conflict in Ukraine, Andrea says. “We have already supported a number of NGOs such as the Red Cross and Razom. However, we also have Ukrainian nationals working for us. We have reached out and have given the possibility to provide support to them, their friends and family.
“For instance, we have offered to pay for the cost of transfers and accommodation for relatives leaving Ukraine. At such times it’s very important to not only support NGOs providing aid on the ground, but to reach out to our own team and see who may be impacted, and what help they may possibly need.”
Beyond the Chest Fund, Hero Gaming’s ethos on being attentive to the needs of its people is evidenced by the number of family-friendly, and ultimately human-friendly, policies it employs. For example, new parents benefit from extended maternity, paternity and adoption leave; this is two weeks beyond what is granted by law. Given that Hero Gaming is very international, they also have a supportive policy should an immediate family member residing in another country pass away, the company provides 10 days of bereavement leave, while also offering one day of pet bereavement leave. This is in addition to further incentives such as marriage, study, assignment, long term illness and relocation leave policies.
“Our intention is to create a genuine work-life blend, where, as an organisation we can support our heroes in finding the right flexibility between work and life – and to feel that they can always count on us during the best moments and perhaps even the most challenging days of their lives. This goes beyond offering unlimited vacation leave, but creating a truly supportive culture.”
At the heart of Hero Gaming’s CSR projects is undoubtedly the Foundation. Set up to contribute towards a greater good in 2019, and to give back to the communities Hero Gaming operates in – through its operations centre in Malta, and its experience centre in Sweden.
It also seeks to contribute to global initiatives, in a nod to the several heroes working remotely around the world.
The threepillars of environment, people and animals also connect closely to its values: Love, Dare & Win.
The Foundation is supported and fully backed by the company’s heroes through fundraising initiatives and monthly donations, with any amount collected being doubled, and often more than doubled, by Hero Gaming. The team overseeing the Foundation is made up of heroes who are eager to give back to our society and stand up to make a difference in a valuable way.
Asked about initiatives he is particularly proud of, Andrea’s eyes light up as he shares about the planting of 700 trees last year – 100 for each year Hero Gaming had set up in Malta, through the QLZH Foundation.
“They do not just buy them and plant them – the QLZH Foundation go that extra mile because they grow the trees from seed to shrub, and then plant them in public spaces to ensure their survival.
“We really strive to ensure that our projects are sustainable and make sense. As a mid-sized company, we also try to support NGOs who may not be in the limelight, and which could really make use of the support.”
On the animal front, Andrea illustrates the importance of un-assigned funds for initiatives. He recalls the sweltering heat waves that plagued Malta in Summer 2021. At the time, a local animal shelter was collecting funds to instal fans to help the animals through the unbearable heat.
“For us, the €250 we spent was not much, but it was swift, effective action that made a difference.”
As for people-focused initiatives, the Foundation supported a fellow iGaming charitable organisation, the SiGMA Foundation, where they are committed to funding the yearly cost of running of a school in Ethiopia.
Before the pandemic hit in March 2020, one people-focused initiative Hero Gaming is particularly fond of is a collaboration with Jays of Sunshine, an organisation that supports children and young persons going through serious health treatment at hospital.
“We had organised a hero-themed party where everybody had dressed up as a superhero. It was really emotional being there and seeing those kids who had gone through or were going through a tough time. It was one of the last events these kids had before the pandemic.”
The Foundation aims to maintain support of particular NGOs it chooses to work with, to continue building on initiatives with the goal of making a lasting impact.
It continues to support key events and several organisations, such as Breast Cancer Awareness and Movember.
With funding coming through the company’s Heroes, and topped by the company itself, the Foundation also thinks outside the box for alternative streams of revenue.
For instance, its IT Team hosts periodic internal sales of equipment it is no longer using. Rather than disposing of unwanted equipment, employees have the opportunity to buy unused gear they may want to provide their children or make use of themselves, with funds going to the Foundation, while also honouring its commitment to the environment through pushing circular economy practices.
As the old adage says, every little helps, with the company and its employees highly cognizant of this fact – whether it’s outside-of-the-box funding initiatives or going the extra mile at an event to make a lasting impact within a community.
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