Citizens Online has partnered with businesses since our early days, when Microsoft sponsored us to produce a report on Corporate Social Responsibility in the IT sector. We began a long‐standing partnership with BT in 2002 to tackle the growing inequalities around internet use. That partnership has led to in‐depth support for over 50 communities.
Corporations can help digital inclusion and skills programmes in a number of ways, such as:
- Front line staff acting as digital champions (for example Barclays Digital Eagles)
- Community investment programmes (like BT’s Get IT Together)
- Provision of online and face to face learning (e.g. Google Garage)
- Producing useful research, for example about digital and financial capability (e.g. Lloyds Consumer Digital Index)
Your involvement, your benefit
Businesses will quite rightly look for a business case for investment in digital inclusion. This can include issues such as staff satisfaction, meeting corporate social responsibility obligations or improving reputation. The most sustainable investments will bring a return back to the business and this can include new business opportunities. However, investment by business is unlikely to ever be sufficient to provide consistent support across the UK and therefore programmes from Government, such as provision in libraries, remain essential.
Companies with an interest in service transformation and public sector business may be interested in partnering in our Switch approach, designed to ensure citizens aren’t left behind in the digital age.
Citizens Online can also support businesses:
- To design and develop their own digital inclusion programmes
- With project management and partnership development
- With independent evaluation of company programmes
- By being a charity partner
Our experience and understanding
Citizens Online has worked with AOL, BT, Cisco Systems, Intel, IBM, Microsoft and TalkTalk, as well as local and regional branches of companies such as PC World, Argos and Barclays Bank in our many community projects. We have a really good understanding of corporate culture and the needs of business.
We have run award schemes with several companies (and the European Commission), including AOL (Innovation in the Community Awards), Microsoft (Community Learning Awards) and TalkTalk (Digital Heroes Awards). We also twice reviewed BT’s computer donation programme Community Connections. Our lengthy history of working with and for BT includes supporting research into the social return on investment of digital inclusion (pdf). BT’s Get IT Together community programme run by Citizens Online across the UK, was preceded by EverybodyOnline, which started in 2002. EverybodyOnline included work with specific demographics, for example people in Glasgow affected by homelessness.
Businesses can have an important role in promoting digital inclusion and skills: get in touch if you want us to support you to play your part.