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Tapping into the power of community when our neighbors need it most

We’ve all been through a lot over the past several months as the twin forces of a global pandemic and a collective reckoning with critical social issues has forced us all to challenge the status quo and take a hard look at what’s most important in our lives. Throughout – even as images of fear and destruction have dominated our news feeds – we have been reminded in countless examples of the power of community to band together and prop us up when we need it most.

From the city-dwellers cheering for healthcare workers from their balconies to the ‘Wall of Moms’ that has formed in Portland, OR – and now throughout the US – to stand up for justice and equality, communities of every shape and size are showing the world that we all have a part to play in shaping tomorrow together.

How Thomson Reuters is helping

In 2019, our employees logged 116,000 volunteer hours supporting important causes in their communities. Over the past decade, we’ve collectively contributed to almost 1 million hours volunteering – supporting causes that range from mentoring children and feeding the homeless to providing pro-bono professional services and building technologies to help small business owners bounce back from the pandemic. In fact, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s TrustLaw service generated the equivalent of $38 million in free legal assistance to non-profit organizations around the world last year.

Volunteerism has always been a critical part of who we are in the Thomson Reuters community, and the need for that communal spirit of selfless commitment has never been greater. As the world grapples with an unprecedented set of healthcare, economic, social justice and technology challenges, we are in a unique position to harness that part of our DNA to affect real change.

That’s why we’ve introduced several initiatives designed to encourage increased volunteerism across the entire employee base.  We have recently revised our volunteer time-off policy to allow all employees to devote four days of paid time off to volunteer for a cause of their choice. We also have a matching program in place that enables employees to double the impact of their monetary charitable donations, along with our Hour Power and Community Champion Grant programs, which allow employees – and groups of employees – to earn grants to support their charitable initiatives.

How do you volunteer during a global pandemic?

Many Thomson Reuters employees have already set an impressive precedent for launching creative and inspiring volunteer projects in the ‘new normal’ world of remote work and social distancing by participating in virtual volunteering opportunities. Here are just a few examples of employees volunteering virtually to make an impact:

  • An App to Help Local Businesses Pivot to Home Delivery. Our Tax & Accounting and Legal employees in the Ahmedabad, India office used their skills to help design an app, Lok Mitra, which connected consumers directly to local businesses during the COVID-19 lockdown, allowing small businesses to pivot to a local delivery model. 
Our team came together to solve a current real-life problem in order to help thousands of people during this pandemic through the LokMitra app. It was a fulfilling and magical experience for all of us who were involved.
  • Digitally Mapping ‘Invisible’ Regions. Thomson Reuters Labs employees volunteered their time to digitally connect and map sections in Bomet County, Kenya to support pandemic preparedness programming in that region. Through this mapping exercise, the participants were able to provide much needed data in a priority zone of the region using satellite imagery. The project was almost complete at the end of the session, so our enthusiastic employees volunteered additional time to fully complete the project! Their work will help the Red Cross better identify populated areas in remote regions, therefore getting aid to people faster. 
Invisible regions are often most in need when disaster strikes. Mapping is therefore crucial to disaster preparedness and response, and the reason we chose it for our virtual volunteering event. It was truly inspiring working with other employees to make entire communities more visible in order to promptly get the assistance they require.
  • Donating Masks. When the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) encouraged the use of face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19, our employees in three different cities used their sewing skills to produce hundreds of face masks to donate to local charitable organizations. Although working remotely, these employees came together to use their creativity and skills to help protect others. 
It was amazing to see the creativity of employees from various departments within our Dallas office come together, virtually, to assemble nearly 300 masks for our longtime community partner, Metrocrest Services. We’re so grateful to give back to this organization that has continued to make a lasting impact in the lives of many in our North Dallas community.

Rebuild and move forward

Community organizations and employees in Minneapolis-St. Paul came together to help the city rebuild after protests and riots. The MSP Community Relations team provided several ways for employees to get involved by providing volunteering opportunities and a list of organizations accepting monetary and goods donations. These opportunities included cooking/serving meals and distributing food, clothing, diapers and personal hygiene items to those in need.

Going the extra mile

With many of us still working remotely and so many charities in dire need of support during this challenging time, it is encouraging to see the important work of so many of our colleagues and other businesses and individuals around the world. We feel these steps are an important way to support our Thomson Reuters community and the individual communities in which we all live and work.

We believe that our employees are playing a part in rebuilding the foundations of a better society and are so thankful to them for the positive impact that they have made, and will continue to make, in their communities through these programs.

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