Noémie Danthine, Associate Director & Head of Sustainability, designs and deploys EHL Group’s sustainability strategy, including environmental sustainability, skills based sponsorship, and ethical and social responsibility. This also includes creating the strategy and implementing the volunteering and giving program in collaboration with Alaya. She shares how EHL Group came to implement their program and to encourage staff-led (or bottom-up) initiatives from 0 to over 30 in one year, while also 3x participation.
Sustainability is an important part of EHL Group's 2025 Strategy. In developing their Sustainability strategy, it became clear that fostering a culture of giving back to communities was one of the main objectives. This includes engaging both students and staff members in the Group’s CSR activities by providing them with opportunities to build this culture of giving back.
“Sustainability is of strategic importance to EHL Group. With the younger generations being ever so implicated in the change for a better world, businesses must adapt. EHL is directly influenced by its young students and its educational model… Our students are the younger generation, they represent the future leaders of tomorrow, so we want to equip them with the skills and values to thrive in the working world and have a positive impact in their future careers.” - Noémie Danthine, Associate Director & Head of Sustainability
EHL Group’s activities centered around 2 annual events: Solidarity Month and Sustainability Week to encourage the EHL community to give back and raise awareness about environmental causes. This took a lot of effort and coordination to propose a variety of activities, only for everything to be dropped until the next year.
As of 2020, with the COVID pandemic and as their collaboration with Alaya became closer, this strategy has been strengthened to include year-round communication and initiatives.
“We are in a transition from a program being promoted by the institution to a program shaped by our staff and students. In 2020, they have spontaneously proposed over 30 activities and suggested nonprofits to add to the platform and support through our program,” - Noémie Danthine
Their main challenges were to:
Centralise and manage both centrally-led and bottom-up events in one place
Make it easy for staff members and students to find and participate in activities to support causes close to their hearts, in a variety of ways
Provide ways for their whole campus to participate in their sustainability initiatives, from anywhere
Easily track and report on their initiatives and contributions to the community
An all-in-one platform to manage centralised & bottom-up initiatives EHL Group implemented an easy-to-use online platform, enabling them to centrally manage their annual events, saving time while being able to scale the program to offer a wider choice of activities, manage registrations and ultimately, drive participation. In particular, to empower students and staff to take initiative.
Online activities to support community connection, from anywhere
Just as EHL Group was preparing to launch their 2020 Sustainability Week, lockdowns were implemented around the world. With a digital platform, they pivoted to offer EHL Group’s staff members and students internal initiatives to support each other with childcare or coursework, as well as sustainability theme. Challenges, like using a reusable shopping bag, or saying no to single-use items.
Online brainstorming sessions to help a nonprofit raise funds
It was such an accessible and fun way to volunteer despite the pandemic. Thank you, Alaya, for connecting motivated people to impactful causes!”- Chloé Favre, student
Instant tracking and reporting to share their progress
The organising team can also track and report on key metrics such as participation, volunteering hours, and causes supported to include in strategic reports for management and external stakeholders. Students are able to build up social impact profiles, an asset for their future.
“Ever since the confinement in May 2020, participation on the Alaya platform has increased, with many members of our community wishing to help out where possible. We also added the Purpose Challenges feature for our 2020 Sustainability Week, along with extensive communication which allowed for increasing momentum around the platform. EHL’s Junior Enterprise, led by students, even built an activity on the platform and recruited via this activity. Other students used the platform to offer their help with course work at the time when they were not allowed on campus - Noémie Danthine, Associate Director & Head of Sustainability
Purpose Challenges to raise awareness & take action, virtually “The challenges were very interesting and for sure helped me to explore sustainable daily habits that I am able to develop.” - Kelly, Student.
“Alaya provides varied opportunities for staff members and students. It also allows us to redirect all volunteer and giving back initiatives in one same channel and to track participation. Our objective is to increase participation on Alaya by 50% and to encourage teambuilding activities through the platform. Building a culture for students, staff and faculty of giving-back both socially and environmentally, which will be an added-value
for students and staff applicants.” - Noémie Danthine
Tips and advice for other higher education organisations
Internal communication is key - find the right balance to keep your people informed without overloading them is essential, get input from your communications team on best practices.
Involve influential personas from across the organisation to champion the program and platform.
Allow room for students and staff to bring in their ideas and suggestions, as they are the most likely to motivate each other to join.