Via Bona Slovakia 2021 showed that the business sector is aware of its responsibility
Awarded projects help victims of domestic violence or improve children's education.
They help victims of domestic violence, have developed a new method of psychotherapy using virtual reality, and systematically prepare children and youth for their digital future. These are the most inspiring examples of responsible entrepreneurship that won the Via Bona Slovakia 2021 award. For the twenty-second time, the Pontis Foundation has awarded it to companies that do business fairly and change Slovakia for the better with their responsible activities.
A total of 38 small, medium and large companies with 48 examples of responsible entrepreneurship applied for the Via Bona Slovakia 2021 award. Independent evaluation committees, made up of experts from the corporate, non-profit and public sectors, moved 19 nominations to the final and in the second round and they selected winners from among them. The foundation presented the awards in seven categories. “Despite the difficult times, this year showed us that the business sector in Slovakia is developing and aware of its responsibility. It has brought examples of companies that treat the environment, its employees and suppliers fairly, create more modern and educated communities, support digital skills, or help prevent misinformation,” says Michal Kišša, the executive director of the Pontis Foundation.
At the same time, the foundation, like last year, presented the concept of responsible entrepreneurship together with the winning projects to the general public in a television documentary broadcast by RTVS (note: the national broadcast channel).
Via Bona Slovakia 2021 award winners
The award in the main category entitled Responsible Large Company went to Swiss Re for its elaborate sustainability strategy and exceptional activities to support employees and the local community.
As part of its CSR strategy in Slovakia, Swiss Re has defined three main areas that it has been working on for a long time – the impact of climate change on the city, strengthening personal and social resilience, and regional social innovations. The company wants to become carbon-free by 2030 and motivates its employees in this area as well. Through an application, each of them can calculate their annual carbon footprint, which will become a starting point for reducing it by participating in practical challenges and competitions.
The company has a sophisticated employee programme with above-standard social benefits and innovative elements supporting diversity and inclusion, such as mentoring women or reverse mentoring, in which younger people pass on the experience to senior colleagues. Last year, the company, in cooperation with the Swiss Re Foundation, brought the SHINE programme to Slovakia. The programme aims to develop social innovation and entrepreneurship, and also continued cooperation with the City of Bratislava on the topics of mitigating the effects of climate change.
The award in the main category entitled Responsible Small/Medium Company went to GoodRequest for creating an innovative educational programme for students and co-creating the local community in Žilina.
Turnkey app development digital studio GoodRequest sees responsible entrepreneurship as part of its DNA. The company considers education and gender equality to be its priority. The company is aware that the IT environment is often naturally discriminatory, so they try to provide equal opportunities for both women and men. They want to motivate more women and girls to study computer science and then work in this industry by sharing success stories of women in this sector.
The company organises the GoodRequest Academy. It is a platform for university students, which offers them the opportunity to work on a project and for a company. The academy has four levels: an 8-week internship where students get to know the company’s processes and improve their coding skills, a competitive assignment where they can test their experience in practice, an intensive paid course for people with industry experience, and support for school organisations. As part of its philanthropic activities, the company also supports several non-profit organisations.
The award in the main category entitled Responsible Small/Medium Company went to GoodRequest from Žilina.
The winner in the category entitled Green Company category is Mobilonline for promoting the principles of sustainability in the business model and consumer education.
The family business from Lučenec started by buying out used mobile phones. It refurbished and re-offered them for sale, thereby extending their life cycle. The company later added used tablets, smartwatches and laptops to their offer. Today, Mobilonline is the largest buyer of used mobile phones in Slovakia. The company uses used packaging materials and returnable eco-boxes for shipments, thus saving the purchase of thousands of cardboard packaging. Last year, it opened the first store in Slovakia, which consists of 80% recycled materials. The stores also serve as collection points for small electrical waste. The company plans to use non-functioning devices in the Mobile Museum, where they will serve exhibits for younger generations, or to create works of art from waste.
The award in the category entitled Outstanding Employer went to IKEA Bratislava for addressing the problems of victims of domestic violence and an exemplary partnership with the non-governmental sector.
In Slovakia, almost every second woman has experienced psychological and every fifth physical or sexual violence in an intimate partner relationship. Therefore, the furniture manufacturer, in cooperation with the Fenestra non-profit organisation, initiated a dialogue to support a safe home environment. They implemented two awareness campaigns on the topic for the general public, but they also set measures inside the company. In case of domestic violence, in addition to mental health and financial support, female employees have up to ten days of leave available, and the company will apply measures to increase workplace safety, such as changing working hours, place of work, or job duties. In addition, IKEA offers up to three days of vacation per year to employees providing support to a colleague who is a victim of domestic violence.
The award in the category entitled Outstanding Employer went to IKEA Bratislava for addressing the problems of victims of domestic violence.
In the category entitled Good Community Partner, the award went to Slovak Telekom for its systematic and comprehensive preparation of children and youth for a digital future.
Slovak Telekom has long been involved in supporting education in schools and the professional development of teachers. In 2020, the company launched the ENTER programme. Its goal is to increase the digital skills of children and students and, at the same time, to increase their interest in solving community problems through digital technologies. Besides the educational and informational campaign, the operator also focuses on the digital education of teachers and students at secondary and elementary schools. Furthermore, the company also helps schools with hardware equipment, such as micro bits, which enable children and young people to create various coding solutions. The programme focuses on both teaching informatics classes and the expansion of interdisciplinary education. The project that children create with their micro bits can be used in other school subjects as well.
The award in the category entitled Socially Innovative Company went to Deutsche Telekom IT Solutions Slovakia for their Cognity Care social innovation, which connects virtual reality with mental health care.
Through its project, the company brings a unique innovation in the field of mental health treatment, which it perceives as very neglected. Patients often undergo invasive forms of treatment and after the end of hospitalisation, they have problems with returning to outside life, self-realisation or motivation. The company has therefore developed a new non-invasive interactive-exposure therapy in virtual reality, which is unique in our country and the world.
The application, with the help of special glasses, moves the patient from the melancholic atmosphere of the psychiatric clinic to a pleasant and relaxing virtual space. In it, s/he performs various mind-training tasks without realising it. The pilot project was launched in the hospital in Trebišov. More than 70 patients have already tried the therapy and are showing better results. The solution also offers benefits for the staff in the form of attractive treatment, simpler diagnostics and enthusiasm for new technologies.
Deutsche Telekom IT Solutions Slovakia will receive an award for the unique connection of the topic of mental health with virtual reality.
The award in the Fair Market Player category went to O2 Slovakia for successfully building awareness on the controversial topic of misinformation.
O2 has long-term and strategically focused on the development of critical thinking and media literacy through its activities, projects of the Fair Foundation and partnerships with non-governmental organisations and educational institutions. In 2021, the company launched the Share Wisely campaign, which was started with a deep fake video featuring Zlatica Puškárová.
The campaign also included a website where visitors could take a media literacy quiz, but also find advice and instructions on how not to fall for false information. The campaign involved influencers, psychologists and former conspirators who changed their opinion based on the facts. Through its Fair Foundation, the operator supported 12 projects aimed at cultivating the information space, refuting hoaxes and countering hate speech with a total of 60,000 euros.