As a community relations advisor for Myer, Kate Driessen sets the strategic direction for Myer’s engagement with the community and has been responsible for the design and implementation of Myer’s community investment program.
Why did you decide on a career in corporate philanthropy, and what was the journey that led you to your present position?
About 12 years ago, I was completing a Masters in Sociology while working part-time for Greenpeace. My background was in public relations but I was searching for a change in career path when I came across an article that explained how the revenues of many major corporations were greater than the gross domestic product (GDP) of some small nations.
It struck me then that companies have an incredible opportunity and, indeed, responsibility to have a positive impact on society while doing business. I thought my skills, interest and background would be better put to use in this sector and from here on I was determined to try to influence businesses to do good where I could.
What does an average work day look like for you?
An average work day commences with coffee! As my role is to manage Myer’s community engagement and contribution programs, most of my days are spent working with our various internal teams about current or upcoming initiatives.
This includes engaging with our marketing team, our retail operations team, management and the 11,000 employees across our stores—so there’s lots of people involved.
How important is it for Myer staff to be on board with the Myer Give Registry? What activities or events have you instigated to ensure staff engagement?
Our team member engagement is critical to its success as our store staff are the ones with a direct line of communication to our customers.
Given the challenge of being spread out across the country in over 60 store locations, I’ve needed to work on a mix of ways to engage our staff. This has included developing and supporting a network of Give Registry ‘champions’—representatives with influence and passion for the program in each store.
Incentives and healthy competition also work well in our environment, so we’ve implemented ‘rewards and recognition’ for Give Registry participation.
Similarly, teams are supported in hosting internal fundraisers which also give us the opportunity to share with them some of the stories of lives being changed by their efforts. The fundraising team at The Salvation Army have been incredible in providing direct feedback from the women we assist.
What do you see as the main benefits of the Myer Give Registry initiative?
Myer has a long history of doing the right thing by the community and it is important that we are seen not only as a credible shopping destination but also as a brand that shares the same values and ideals as our customers.
The Give Registry has provided a touchstone for connecting with our customers in a manner that reinforces our commitment to community, raises awareness of family violence, and creates a meaningful social impact.
By partnering with The Salvation Army on the Give Registry we have been able to raise much-needed funds and products to aid their support of women impacted by family violence, but it has also provided an enduring mechanism for building a long-term relationship with The Salvation Army in a way which is unique to Myer.
You are a busy working mother—what do you enjoy doing for relaxation?
Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to relax other than a TV series in front of the fire while the kids are in bed, but I do make exercise a priority—as much for relaxation as my mental well-being. So going for long runs on the weekend is my non-negotiable time to myself, while getting away when we can with family or friends to the bush is my ultimate choice in relaxation.