Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards Finalist Interview with Robert DuPree, Manager, Government Affairs, Telos
1. Why do you believe CSR strategy is important for a company/you?
At Telos Corporation, we believe corporate social responsibility is a huge part of who we are and how we approach our business and our community, and we are very active in supporting programs and activities in the community and beyond. We believe our CSR efforts cannot be just about providing financial support to or encouraging our associates to give their time to a cause Telos supports. It’s also about encouraging our employees to support causes they believe in. We empower each of our associates to pursue what he or she finds important through flexible policies that give them time to volunteer. This enables them to do as much as they can for things they believe in, and gives them an even greater measure of satisfaction and ownership in our community. We believe in the importance of giving back to our community and to causes we believe in, and our policies encourage our employees to do the same, offering the scheduling flexibility and encouragement necessary to make this possible.
2. Do you believe that the CSR work you participate in should be affiliated with the work you/your company does? For example, should an Oil company’s CSR be in cleaning up oil spills?
Every company needs to do what they feel is right for them. Telos has chosen to focus our philanthropic efforts, although not exclusively, on two primary areas – support for victims of tragic loss and programs to further technology education.
We know the former is important to many of our customers, but it’s also important to us – so many of our employees are veterans and we feel an even greater responsibility to help look out for those who have lost loved ones in service to our country. Some of our efforts in this area are described below.
Regarding technology education, we know that for our own success, as well as that of other technology companies and government agencies, we must ensure a technology literate workforce, not just today, but tomorrow and many years from now. That is why STEM education is the second focus of Telos’ philanthropic efforts.
3. What makes you/your company stand out compared to other individuals/companies participating in CSR?
Telos may be a mid-sized company but we support causes beyond our community and have been a leading advocate on behalf of several programs which have a nationwide impact and appeal.
4. Do you believe contributing back to the community allows you/your company to have a deeper connection with your/its consumers?
Absolutely! Each day, in the regular course of business, we strive to protect people, systems, and information with solutions for cyber security, secure mobility, and identity assurance. Yet it all comes down to people, to protecting against loss – whether by protecting financial or health information from identity thieves or ensuring only trusted people can enter a building or access a network – and recovering from such losses when they occur. Our care for those who suffer tragic loss is a natural extension of that mission. And we find that whatever we do to support those individuals, our customers, particularly those in the national security arena, are not only appreciative but are inspired to redouble their own efforts in support of these causes as well.
5. What are some events or causes that inspire you and your team?
Telos supports the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) through programs like Courage Caps, annual Honor Guard Gala, and Run and Remember Team. These efforts leverage the company’s substantial financial contribution to raise additional funds for the healing work of TAPS: survivor seminars; Good Grief Camps for young survivors; retreats, casework; and a 24-hour hotline for those grieving the death of a loved one in America’s armed forces. Not only is Telos involved as a corporate sponsor and advocate for so many TAPS initiatives but our CEO and Chairman, John Wood, devotes countless hours to the cause, and is in his second year as chairman of TAPS. His example has inspired other Telos employees to volunteer their time and talents as well in support of TAPS.
Telos’ support for Project Rebirth includes funding to enable the organization to produce REBIRTH, an award winning documentary which employs time-lapse photography of the rebuilding of the Freedom Tower and a "human time lapse" of the journeys of nine people whose lives were dramatically affected by the events of 9/11. A portion of the film is on permanent display at the National 9/11 Museum, and a digital archive of over eight hundred hours, available at the Library of Congress, is used by college and university programs to facilitate healing, foster hope, and build resilience. Telos contributed financially to Project Rebirth, and Telos CEO and Chairman John Wood served for ten years as the organization’s Treasurer, helping to raise funding to support its various projects.
Consistent with Telos’ philanthropic focus, Telos’ STEM initiatives range from preschool through higher education. We do so both financially and by our employees volunteering their time and expertise to work with these students. Telos funded an extension of Wolf Trap Foundation’s Early STEM/Arts program, bringing the award-winning curriculum to Loudoun. Telos also provided financial sponsorship for the RoboLoCo FIRST Robotics team, CyberPatriot competition, and the Loudoun County Public Schools Science and Technology Fair in support of local middle and high school students. Telos has also recently instituted an innovative internship program in partnership with local schools that leverages academia’s best models for disciplined entrepreneurship to kickstart the careers of participants, and this program is looking to expand in the coming year.
6. What advice would you give to individuals/companies trying to participate in CSR?
Companies need to adopt a corporate philosophy to define their CSR objectives and to then back this up with the full support of the organization. Inherent in this is recognizing that providing support for these objectives cannot be limited to measurable, bottom-line contributions. Rather, these contributions often fall under the more general giving to causes you believe in and the importance of “giving back” to the community, even if you can’t quantify how it helps your company. Having a good CSR approach means you just have to use your best judgment of what is right.