Submitted by: John Wood, Chairman & CEO, Telos Corporation
1. Why do you believe CSR strategy is important for a company?
At Telos, corporate social responsibility is a natural extension of our business philosophy and is a huge part of who we are. We believe our CSR efforts go beyond providing financial support, as they also help encourage our associates to engage with the community and to give their time to a cause that Telos supports. It’s also about encouraging our employees to support causes they believe in and are passionate about.
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. We have chosen to focus our philanthropic efforts, although not exclusively, on two primary areas–support for victims of tragic loss and STEM 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 STEM education, we know that for our own success, as well as that of other technology companies and government agencies, we must ensure a skilled workforce, not just today, but tomorrow and many years from now.
3. What makes your company stand out compared to other companies participating in CSR?
Telos Corporation’s core values emphasize integrity, trust, hard work, problem-solving...and fun. These values are embedded in our approach to corporate responsibility, which leads to a holistic view of philanthropy. It’s not just about financial support or pitching in with service hours. Rather, we want to ensure success at every level–leadership through grassroots, effective daily operations to successful one-time events. It is important to us that all those involved are gratified by their experience.
4. Do you believe contributing back to the community allows your company to have a deeper connection with its clients/customers?
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?
We’re a proud supporter of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a 24/7 tragedy assistance resource for those who have suffered the loss of a military loved one, regardless of their relationship to the deceased or the circumstance of the death. TAPS provides comfort and care through comprehensive services including peer-based emotional support, case work assistance, crisis intervention and grief resources. We’ve been a longtime presenting sponsor of the TAPS Honor Guard Gala, have fielded teams for the TAPS Run and Remember Team, and have hosted a golf tournament with 100 percent of proceeds benefitting the TAPS organization. Through our strong partnership with Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation and the Washington Capitals, we sponsor the Courage Caps program, which has raised over $300,000 for TAPS in two years. We also partnered with the nation’s largest cold water conservation organization, Trout Unlimited (TU), to serve U.S. veterans. The TU Veterans Service Program works with veteran rehabilitation groups across the country, assisting veterans in rehabilitation after physical and emotional injuries. In addition to the unique therapeutic value of fly fishing, veterans are introduced to TU’s conservation work, youth education programs and various community outreach initiatives. We support many of STEM’s initiatives, including local FIRST Robotics team, Robo LoCo Team 5338, comprised of students from the Loudoun Academy of Science and Monroe Technology Center; SySTEMic Solutions summer camps, which encourage kids to learn about and have fun with STEM; and Women in Technology’s Girls in Technology initiatives,inspiring girls to pursue STEM-related careers. We’ve also supported the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts and its STEM initiative, with a goal of developing, evaluating and disseminating arts-based STEM teaching strategies for pre-K and kindergarten programs.
6. What advice would you give to companies trying to participate in CSR?
It’s important for companies to adopt a CSR philosophy that has clearly defined objectives. For instance, we have focused our giving on two areas–victims of tragic loss, and STEM education. Over time those focus areas might shift, which is fine, but by giving ourselves clear objectives, we’re helping to better align our employees and our customers with our CSR mission.